By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
Jefferson seniors LeeAnn Farr, Sarah Busch and Ariann Barile played about as well they have all season. It wasn’t enough, however, to overcome Champion’s Mackenzie Kiser.
The 6-foot tall Kiser netted 33 points as she led the Golden Flashes past the Falcons, 54-49, Thursday night at Falcon Gymnasium.
“Their big girl was just tough to stop,” Jefferson coach Rod Holmes said. “We had some tough matchups with her.”
Kiser also tallied 12 rebounds and four steals. Many times early in the contest, it was her own passing that freed her up to score.
“Here’s the thing we said in the locker room,” Champion coach Jeff Thompson said. “We know the offense has to run through her. But she doesn’t get those points without good passes from her teammates. The rest of the kids take pride in making those passes to her.
“One thing people don’t realize with her is she is a really good passer. She’s a good distributor.”
Farr netted 19 points and eight boards, Busch scored 14 points to go with six rebounds and three assists and Barile added eight points and a team-high nine rebounds.
“I thought they played well,” Holmes said. “I thought everyone played a good game. I thought everyone on both teams played well.”
Champion (12-9, 7-2 in All-American Conference) took advantage of eight Jefferson turnovers and used a 14-3 spurt to take a 47-38 lead after three quarters.
“The third quarter hurt us,” Holmes said. “That’s where we went down. We were down 12 and had to fight back. We were down three with the ball, we come down the floor with 20-some seconds left and turned it over.”
Over the first 5:44 of the fourth quarter, Jefferson (7-13, 2-7) outscored the Golden Flashes, 11-3. Two buckets from Farr had Jefferson within three, 52-49, with 2:16 play. The Falcons didn’t score again.
Barile scored consecutive buckets, one on a putback and another on a feed from Colleen O’Connor following a steal, to put the Falcons ahead, 29-25, with 1:25 left in the first half.
The Golden Flashes used a bit of good fortune to forge a 31-31 tie at the break.
Kiser made the front end of a one-and-one, but missed the second. The ball took a fortuitous bounce out to the 3-point line, where Gabby Lamont picked it up and drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“We didn’t get the rebound off the foul shot, it ricochets out to one of their shooters, she catches it and gets a 3,” Holmes said. “We’ve got to box out and we’ve got to get that rebound. If we do, we go in up three.”
“We were happy at the half to have scored 31 points,” Thompson said. “We weren’t too happy about having given up 31 points. We needed to focus on defense in the second half. We needed to make defensive stops.”
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.