Raider girls down 4th-ranked Bethel

"The Jefferson girls basketball team accomplished a feat Friday that only one other South Puget Sound League team has done in the past two years: beat Bethel. It was overwhelming, said Jefferson junior Jessiye Clark, who scored 14 points, including three 3-pointers. It gives us all hope for the playoffs. If we can beat them, we can pretty much run with anyone.The Raiders used strangling defense and Michelle Morse's 15 points and nine assists to drop the South Puget Sound League leaders and the No. 4 ranked team in the state, Bethel, 60-53. We knew we could beat them, said Jefferson senior Mandy Carter. Finally beating them was just proving it to ourselves.The win capped an amazing week for Jefferson that started on Tuesday when the Raiders rallied in the fourth quarter after trailing by as many as 17 points to beat Rogers. Morse took that game over at the end, Jefferson coach Mike Grady said. We just scrambled them on defense and pressed them into submission. Jefferson carried the momentum from the Rogers game to the featured matchup against Bethel. When Bethel and Jefferson met for the first time this season on Dec. 19, Jefferson needed a 34-point fourth quarter to keep it close in a 74-63 loss.We knew we could play with them, Grady said. But we had to keep their good shooters from going off. This time Bethel had to play in the Jefferson gym. A full crowd and a playoff-game atmosphere helped lift the intensity and the Jefferson defense. Our student body was amazing, Grady said. They helped us. It was great support and we love being there. While the Jefferson guards controlled the tempo of the game, it was the Raider's players down low that helped seal the win. They clogged up the middle of the lane on defense and battled for rebounds on the boards. Carter scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds, Mitzi Moore had eight points and five rebounds, Shannon Morse had six points and five rebounds and Chelsea Hunt grabbed eight rebounds. Kristin Woller had five points and two reboundsOur big girls had 25 points - we usually don't get that kind of production, Grady said. They just didn't let Bethel get rebounds for second or third shots, and that's what Bethel is notorious for.We lack height, but we can score with anybody. Jefferson was down by six points at halftime before Grady made two key offensive and defensive changes for the Raiders.We weren't taking very good shots, Grady said. We had to be patient and attack them. Jefferson abandoned its trapping 2-3 defense, which Bethel has seen for the past four years, and focused instead on Bethel's top two shooters, gambling that Bethel's less accurate shooters wouldn't make open shots. It worked. Bethel made just one field goal in the third quarter and scored six points total, with four points coming from free throws. While Bethel was slowing down on offense, Jefferson was warming up in the third quarter. Clark hit two of her three 3-pointers and Shannon Morse also hit a 3-pointer. Michelle Morse controlled the ball with accurate passesMorse was on fire passing, Grady said. Her passing was something to see that night. When we get close to the end, we are in control, Grady said. We had composure and discipline for extremely high percentage shots. MIchelle Morse made 11 free throws in the fourth quarter to cap the victory.We're hoping to build off that with three games to go, Grady said. The girls are pumped.While the win is satisfying, the Raiders said they still have work to do. Anyone on this team can score, we want to step up our defense, Carter said. After a bye last night, Jefferson's next game is at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 2 at Federal Way High School. "

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