Avenging an overtime loss earlier this season and moving into a tie for first place in the KJCCC, the No. 6 Labette Cardinals defeated the previously undefeated No. 3 Johnson County Cavaliers, 59-48, on Wednesday.
“Our team really stuck together,” said Labette forward Jayla Smith, who was one rebound shy of a double-double.
“We went through the gameplan and our mindset was to stay locked in. We wanted to dominate this game.”
Labette’s defense forced the Cavaliers into 15 turnovers and 32.8% shooting from the field. The 48 points Johnson County scored mark the lowest of the season.
“We guarded really, really well and stuck to the scout,” Labette head coach Mitch Rolls said. “We made them take the shots we wanted them to take. Johnson has kids that can make tough shots, but that’s what we wanted them to take. We stayed solid and true to the gameplan.”
Labette led 43-32 early in the fourth quarter before Johnson County roared back to tie the game at 45-45.
A 14-3 run in response by the Cardinal is how the game ended.
“What got us that 11 point lead, we stopped doing it and we gave the lead up,” Rolls said. “After a timeout, we picked right back up. We’ve shown that if we do the right things, we can stretch the lead and beat anybody in the country.”
Smith had 13 points, nine rebounds and was one of four players for Labette to reach double figures.
“It was my teammates helping me,” Smith said. “I’m not trying to force anything. I just let whatever come, come. I tried to do the little things so we could end up on top.”
Alexis Calderon matched Smith with 13 points, Wakiryah Daniels had a dozen and Nisea Burrell scored 11.
“It was a group effort,” Rolls said. “We had four players in double figures. We saw everybody going up to get big rebounds. Having a team win like that feels really good. We didn’t have to rely on one person. Only having 14 turnovers and not taking a lot of threes translates to good things for us.”
Johnson County’s Lisa Thomas led the Cavaliers with 11 points.
Nariyah Simmons and Mackenzie Hart of Johnson County, first and fifth in the conference in scoring respectively, were held to a combined 5-of-23 shooting and 13 points.
“We had good energy defending them and respected them every possession,” Rolls said. “We had good help side defense and good rotations. The few mistakes we made, they made us pay. But we made them take tough shots.”
Labette improved to 20-4 overall and 9-1 in KJCCC play while Johnson County dropped to 24-1 and 9-1 respectively.
Both schools now share the top spot in the conference and will be the on-paper favorites in their remaining four games.
“All we’re doing is moving the goalposts,” Rolls said. “Today, the goalpost was to get ourselves at the top of the conference. Now it’s taking care of business against four more teams. Then we’ll move the goalposts one more time when we need to win the conference tournament.”
Labette heads to Fort Scott on Saturday.
“By tomorrow, I’m done celebrating,” Rolls said. “I’ll be back in grind mode on film to get ready for Fort Scott.”
No. 6 Labette 59, No. 3 Johnson County 48
Labette: Ishuana Hunter 4, Alexis Calderon 13, Wakiryah Daniels 12, Jayla Smith 13, Nisea Burrell 11, Janiya Reed 4, Patricia Sosa Lora 2
Johnson County: Mackenzie Hart 10, Nariyah Simmons 3, LaJahda Boyland 4, Lisa Thomas 11, Aryannah Harrison 4, Janaya Washington 4, Jazzy Klinge 2, Grace Lynch 10
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