TJ girls lose 68-55 in first round of state tournament

Name the shot, and the Jefferson girls basketball team found a way to miss it in a 68-55 loss to Richland Wednesday in the opening round of the state tournament at the Tacoma Dome.

“We shot crappy,” Jefferson coach Mike Grady said. “When we miss four uncontested layins, what else do you want? You gotta make those. We’re struggling. You can’t give up 68 points and expect to win.”

The Raiders made just 22 of 76 shot attempts while Richland was 22-46 from the field and made 24 of 34 free-throw attempts. Jefferson made 14 of 15 attempts from the line

Jefferson plays at noon Thursday against Oak Harbor at the Tacoma Dome in the consolation bracket of the state tournament. The Raiders can still take fifth place if they win their next three games.

Against Richland, senior Michelle Morse was the only Jefferson player who showed up to play. She scored 30 points, making 50 percent of her shots. The rest of the team was 11 for 51 from the floor.

“She’s a gamer,” Grady said about Morse. “She always seems to find a way. She’s not scared of anything. She’s going to go after it.” Morse was also Jefferson’s leading rebounder with seven boards and she had no turnovers. The rest of the Jefferson team turned the ball over 21 times.

“We played a little scared,” Morse said. “A couple players weren’t used to the atmosphere.”

One weakness for Jefferson all season is the lack of a dominant post player. Jefferson has four players 5-foot-10 or taller, but in a combined 28 minutes of play, those players accounted for just three rebounds, zero points and four turnovers.

“I knew they didn’t play real good inside defense and that was an area where we could exploit them,” said Richland coach Cindy McCoy. “They don’t have a whole lot of height and we could take advantage of that.”

The Raiders started the game strong and trailed 16-14 after the first quarter. Jefferson took a 24-20 lead with five minutes to go in the first half. The game was tied at 33 with one minute left, but that’s when the Raiders fell apart and lost their chance at playing for a state title.

Due to three costly Jefferson turnovers and four Jefferson fouls, Richland scored eight points in the final minute of the first half, and took a 41-33 lead into halftime.

Jefferson opened the second half with another turnover, and Richland soon led 47-35, capping a 14-2 run in a span of two minutes. The Raiders never recovered.

Jefferson junior guard Chelsea Hunt hit a 3-pointer to bring the Raiders within eight points at 56-48 with five minutes left in the game. Richland missed two free throws and Jefferson had a chance to cut into the lead even more, but the Raiders turned the ball over after a travelling penalty and disrupted their own comeback effort.

“It’s obviously disappointing,” Hunt said. “We didn’t play all that well. We’re going to have to play a lot better. Hopefully our shots will fall and we’ll hustle after every rebound.”

Hunt had 14 points and seven steals and senior Jessiye Clark scored seven points for Jefferson.

Brandi McCoy led Richland with 20 points.

“We have to play better and not airball every shot,” Clark said. “I don’t want to just come here and lose. Hopefully we can pick it up.”

Jefferson’s game against Oak Harbor Thursday is a loser-out contest.

“Playing back to back to back games is tough,” Grady said. “But that’s what we are going to have to do.”

Richland 68, Jefferson 55Jefferson: Michelle Morse 30, Chelsea Hunt 14, Jessiye Clark 7, Jessica Allen 2, Vashti Tate 2.

Richland: Brandi McCoy 20, Lindsay Selle 18, Stephanie Sax 14, Jessica Miller 7, Alece McCoy 5, Tara Schwartz 4.

Scouting Oak Harbor

Oak Harbor, with a 19-15 record, lost to Prairie 51-41 on Wednesday. The Wildcats are led by 5-foot-2 senior guard Marcella Manibusan, who scored 14 points against Prairie, and 6-foot-2 center Heidi McNeill, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds against Prairie. The Raiders will have to play tight defense against Manibusan, who made four of eight 3-point attempts, and try to block out McNeill or get her in foul trouble.

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