BY MIKE RILEY
They appeared donning their pink uniforms in recognition of cancer awareness, but the effort was definitely of the hard hat and lunch bucket variety as the Jeffersonville Red Devils got down and dirty Saturday, ending a five-game losing streak with a 45-39 victory over Jasper at Johnson Arena.
Jeffersonville (6-10) trailed only once in the game, that coming with 4:50 left in the game as the Wildcats Tori Sermersheim scored to make it 30-29.
Taylor Sykes answered right back for the Red Devils, who built the lead back to three on a steal and layup by Taylor Hines, but the game was far from over.
After a 3-pointer by Emily Jones cut the Jeffersonville lead to 38-35, Hines scored to put the advantage back at five. But Hines then missed the front end of the bonus, Jones hit 2-of-2 at the line to make it 40-37 with 53 seconds left.
Sykes and Sermersheim then traded baskets and Jasper called a timeout with 34 seconds left.
Both teams then traded turnovers before Nicolette Eckert was called for an intentional foul on the Red Devils’ Taylor Davis. Davis hit 1-of-2 at the line, Jeff got possession of the ball. Aurreeshae Hines was then fouled.
She hit both free throws for the final margin.
Free throws were hard to come by for the Red Devils. Through three quarters they were 1-of-2.
“To say we needed this win ... that’s an understatement,” Jeffersonville coach Matt Pait said. “These girls have worked their butts off and have deserved to win some of the close losses we’ve had recently.
“To beat a team like Jasper, to give up the lead and then work the way we did. They’re a veteran club and we’ve got a lot of youth. This was a great win for us.”
Haley Vogen led the Red Devils with a game high 22 points, scoring 11 in each half and scoring twice what any Jasper player had. She also grabbed a team high eight rebounds.
Sermersheim led Jasper with 11 points.
But the big story of the night may be the defensive job the Red Devils’ did on the Wildcats’ Shelby Merder. The 6-foot-2 senior and Ball State commit finished with only five points. She did grab a team-high eight rebounds. Despite that, Jeff held a slight edge on the boards, 28-27.
“We wanted to keep her under control,” Pait said. “She hit a 3-pointer early and she got a few open looks but wasn’t able to knock them down. Our three big girls did a good job on her. This was a great win, and it goes to our team effort on defense.”
Entering the game looking for their first win after five straight losses, Jeff seemed to have things in control as they led 29-21 after three quarters.
But after going the entire third quarter without a turnover, Jeff coughed it up four times early in the final quarter, allowing a Jasper comeback as they scored nine straight points to take the lead.
It was the Jeff defense that then started to force turnovers and turned it to a win.
Jeff will return to action Tuesday with a visit to Seymour.
“The girls have been playing hard,” Pait said. “We’ve lost a lot of close ones where we haven’t executed at the end. Hopefully this will get us going and we’ll be ready for the sectional.”