TJ girls drop final seeding game

The Jefferson girls basketball team struggled through its final two games of the West Central District tournament but still earned a berth in the state tournament, which starts today.

Jefferson (18-7) plays at 5 p.m. today against Richland (20-5) in the Tacoma Dome.

The Raiders took the fourth seed out of districts after losing to Port Angeles 61-53 Saturday at the University of Puget Sound.

Jefferson was without the services of senior wing Shannon Morse, a starter who scored a season-high14 points in the previous game against Enumclaw.

Morse was permanently dismissed from the team after breaking the school’s athletic code. Earlier in the season, Morse had been ineligible for one game after an athletic code violation.

“When it happens right after school, how do you prepare?” Grady said. “No question it caused a disruption.”

Against Port Angeles — a team Jefferson beat 66-58 back in November — the Raiders were down only four at halftime thanks to the 3-point shooting of Jessiye Clark. She hit five 3-pointers in the game and scored 16 points

But Port Angeles outscored Jefferson 18-7 in the third quarter as it went up 51-36.

“Clark came up big in the first half,” said Jefferson senior Michelle Morse, who finished with 19 points. “We wanted to win, but we were complacent. It won’t bother us, this was just for seeding. At state, we’ll come out and play our game, start off getting steals and not be lazy. We’ve been in every game this year. We know we can play with everyone. We have to pick up our intensity and rebounding.”

Jefferson showed how dangerous it is by making a 9-0 run to start the fourth quarter, thanks to four consecutive Port Angeles turnovers.

After Mitzi Moore drove for two points, Jefferson was within six points at 51-45 with six minutes left, but it wasn’t enough.

“We got ourselves in a hole,” Grady said. “The effort was valiant, but we didn’t get it done.”

Jefferson made just five of 11 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter while Port Angeles was 6-8.

Despite Jefferson’s recent struggles, a win today would more than make up for the trouble.

“The first game is the most important,” Grady said. “We’ve played a lot of the teams in the state tournament. We’re not intimidated by anybody. We won’t be in awe of them. The way we press, I like our chances.”

Jefferson needs to win its next three games to advance to the state finals at 9 p.m. on Saturday.

“We’ve never been here, so we want to come out and have fun and do well,” Moore said. “Losing gives us more motivation. We’ve been going through some tough things, and this makes us want it more. We watched a 3A state game and we were excited about the atmosphere. It’ll be loud and really energetic. It will get us pumped up.”

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