By Jonathan Stark
1:28 PM EST, December 12, 2012
In 15 seasons of girls’ basketball at East Jessamine, the Lady Jaguars had never begun the season 3-0. Wins over Campbellsville, Berea and Whitefield Academy in the first 10 days of the season paved East’s historic streak.
Although East lost to Nicholas County 71-57 Monday night, the Lady Jags still have only the second 3-1 start in school history — East began the 2006-’07 season 3-1 as well.
The driving force behind East’s fast start has been its defensive effort. In the its first three contests, East held its opponents to an average of 37 points — the Lady Jags held Whitefield to only 29.
Much of East Jessamine’s offense comes out of its defensive pressure. Through three games, East was averaging 60 points — more than 20 more than its opponents.
Some of the things that were going right for the Lady Jags in their first three contests broke down against Nicholas County. East turned the ball over on ill-advised passes, had breakdowns on the defensive end and missed too many free throws.
The difference on the scoreboard ended up being 15 points, while East missed 13 free throws and was 10-for-23 from the line.
“Defense and free throws cost us that game,” East coach Jacqueline Coleman said. “We defended well in spurts but it wasn’t team defense and communication was definitely lacking.”
The Lady Jags were able to play good defense against the Lady Jackets through the first quarter, holding Nicholas County to just 10 points. However, East could not get on the board either and the teams were tied at 10 after the first period.
Nicholas began to pull away in the second quarter with a 5-0 run. A couple of big three-pointers by Nicholas and a string of missed free throws by East gave the Jackets a 28-13 lead with 2:41 remaining until halftime.
“We were shooting terribly,” Coleman said. “When you shoot terribly, you’ve got to step it up everywhere else. We were getting shots; we just weren’t getting great shots. We were settling for what was easy.”
East made a run to close the gap to as few as seven points just before the half, but the Lady Jackets hit a couple of free throws late to take a 32-23 advantage into the break.
Of East’s 23 first-half points, freshman Emma Young accounted for 15.
Nicholas County’s lead ballooned to as large as 17 in the third quarter before East began another run.
Senior Carlie Harrison hit a pair of three-pointers and Maddie Haney added a basket to make it a 41-32 with 5:25 remaining in the third quarter.
East cut the lead down to seven points on a handful of occasions in the quarter, and a basket by Young made it 49-44 with about 45 seconds remaining in the third period.
The Lady Jackets stretched the lead back out to as many as 11 points in the final quarter, but a 6-0 run by the Lady Jaguars brought them as close as 59-54 with 3:32 remaining in the game. Sarah Rainwater had four points during the run.
East’s run was stifled by foul trouble. It picked up its seventh foul of the half not long after and began sending Nicholas County to the line just about every trip downcourt.
The Lady Jackets were just 8-for-17 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, but they hit enough and held East off the board for the final 1:40 of the game.
Young finished with 29 points for East Jessamine; Rainwater added 10. Harrison scored six points; Maddison Stollings, Haney and Heather Welch each had four.
East Jessamine opens district play Friday night at Mercer County (1-2) at 7:30 p.m. The Lady Jags host Williamsburg on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.