Monterey Splits District Road Affair With Jackson County

by Rusty Ellis

The Monterey Lady Wildcats moved to 12-12 on the season and 3-2 in district play with their 54-45 win over the Jackson County Lady Devils.

The Lady Wildcats jumped out to a 14-5 lead early, thanks to a pair of threes from Kelsi Flanigan, but Jackson County battled back to trim the deficit to just 16-11 at the end of the first quarter.

Jackson County put together their best quarter of the night in the second, outscoring Monterey 14-7 to take a 25-24 lead into halftime.

The third quarter was where the game was decided, as Monterey outscored JCHS 15-8 to take a 39-32 lead into the fourth, and it was all she wrote from there as the Lady Wildcats kept the Lady Devils at arm’s length for the remainder of the game.

Lydia Phillips scored a game-high 15 points for Monterey, nine of which came in the fourth quarter, while Flanigan added 13. Erin Davidson led Jackson County with 13 points.

While it wasn’t a perfect game for Monterey where the second quarter left a little more to be desired, head coach Michelle Farley says she was pleased with the overall energy and effort from her team on Tuesday.

“The biggest thing for me was I felt like our entire team was here today,” Farley said. “I think everybody was behind each other tonight and that’s what pushed us through at the very end.”

While the offense seemingly took over in the third, Farley was quick to credit the defense for creating easy chances for the offense.

“We tried a different approach this game, we needed to close out better on shooters,” Farley said. “We put them in some tough situations and pressured them, and even though they handled it well sometimes, the team did a good job of fighting through and closing this one out.”

Phillips led the way with a big fourth-quarter, something Farley was happy to see.

“She played really well tonight,” Farley said. “She looked like she was in the zone, she handled the ball well for us, and she helped us push to the end in the fourth quarter…she got some good easy shots that we needed, so I think she played really well tonight.”

The Blue Devils jumped out to a big lead of their own in the boys game, as they routed Monterey 57-35 to win their third straight game and their 12th game in their last 13.

Jackson County caught fire from three early on, as four first-quarter threes led to a 20-7 lead heading into the second quarter. Monterey’s offensive woes continued there, as they managed just four points against the Blue Devil defense.

It didn’t help that Jackson County continued their success on offense as well, and it all added up to a 33-11 lead at the half for the home team.

Monterey battled back early in the third with the first seven points of the quarter to cut the deficit to just 33-18, but that was as close as they would get. Jackson County pushed the lead back to 43-23 at the end of the third and cruised to the finish-line for a 57-35 win over the Wildcats.

Kendrick Brown scored a game-high 18 points for the Blue Devils, while Jordan Arroyo added 11 of his own. Weston Clough scored a team-high 11 points for Monterey.

Head coach Kevin Thomas said there was plenty of positives for his team in their fourth district win, and it all started with the defense.

“I just thought we had a great start, and that really helped,” Thomas said. “They really locked in defensively in that first half, and played an exceptional first half…they got a little momentum going in the third, but I thought we handled that really well and took control of the ball-game.”

As far as what was going right on defense, Thomas says the biggest thing was his team’s preparation leading into this matchup, as he really felt like they bought into the game-plan.

“It was just great team defense,” Thomas said. “They bought in to what we were trying to do scheme-wise, and they anticipated well…I just thought we rebounded the ball tremendously at both ends, it was just a great all-around effort tonight.”

Jackson County will hit the road to Bledsoe County on Friday, while Monterey will take on Midway.