Despite Gritty Playoff Performance, Lady Jags Fall to Wootton
The Lady Jaguars of Northwest went to the gym at Wootton to play the Lady Patriots with a plan. They were going to disrupt the Wootton offense.
The Lady Jags entered the playoffs with a 6-15 record, while Wootton came into Friday night’s game even with an 11-11 record. The last time the two teams played each other on December 6, in the first game of the season, the Lady Pats ran away with an easy 81-46 victory. Northwest was determined not to let that happen a second time.
Northwest Head Coach Lawrence Leonard had his girls pressing and playing aggressive defense for almost the entire game.
The strategy worked for most of Friday night’s first-round playoff game. The Lady Jags clung to a slight lead on three different times Northwest lead by six points, but Wootton would reel in the Jags and take the lead by a point or two. However, the Wootton leads were all short lived, as the Lady Jags led by seniors Mariah Ellis and Alexis Mack would find ways to regain the lead. Ellis led the Jags with 16 points, while Mack finished with 13 points.
However, there two major drawbacks to playing full-court press and aggressive defense for an extended period of time. The first is fatigue, which Coach Lawrence addressed by resting players on a consistent rotation. The second is foul trouble, Ellis was called for her fifth foul in the final two minutes of the game and was unable to be on the court down the stretch. Ellis’ on-court presence, ball handling skills, staggering defense, and ability to find the hoop kept the Jags in the game. She seemed to be everywhere and the other players fed off her ability to make plays.
The Patriots found themselves down by six points early and set to work at chipping away at the Northwest lead. The Jags managed some mini-runs of six points but were never able to get the extra bucket or two that would have put the Lady Pats away. Wootton hung around and waited for the chance to take the lead late.