Late comeback bid falls short as Lafayette falls to West Jones in semifinals
Published 10:37 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Lafayette’s miraculous run to Jackson came to an end in the semifinals Tuesday as the Lady Commodores fell to Region 5-5A champion West Jones as their second-half comeback attempt fell short in the closing minutes.
The Lady ‘Dores (23-7, 8-0 Region 2-5A) fell behind by double-digits in the first half as they struggled to make any inroads against the Mustangs’ swarming defense.
West Jones sent multiple defenders to the ball on every possession, trapping nearly every pick and roll and putting plenty of pressure on the ball each time down the floor.
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“I thought we handled the press fine… we were just making some of the same old mistakes and West Jones is a team where — they’re gonna make you pay for it and they did,” said head coach Shayne Linzy. “I thought we did a lot of good things and we did some bad things. Unfortunately, the bad outweighed the good and the outcome is the outcome.”
Lafayette managed to get some easy buckets in the second as they took advantage of the Mustangs’ over-aggression on defense by lofting long passes over the top of the press to get runouts in transition.
The strategy helped them cut the deficit back to single-digits just before the half, giving them momentum heading into the break despite a poor first half.
They capitalized on that newfound momentum in the third, opening the quarter on an 11-3 run to tie the game at 29-29 midway through the third.
“I felt like we were a little more aggressive [in the third],” Linzy said. “I thought we were better defensively and our offense kind of fed off of that. All game I was wanting the girls to attack the paint and we didn’t really do that except for that third quarter.”
They were unable to sustain the run however as West Jones answered back with a burst of their own to regain a two-possession lead in the closing minutes of the third.
Lafayette kept it within two possession for the first few minutes of the fourth, but was ultimately unable to stave off the onslaught as West Jones poured in bucket after bucket to keep the Lady ‘Dores at bay and escape with the victory.
“I could not be prouder of this team. It’s the first time we’ve made it back to Jackson in five years and for three quarters we got after and played well against a team that’s probably picked to win it,” Linzy said. “I could not be prouder of this group. We’re gonna lose two really great seniors but we’ve got a good nucleus coming back so we’re gonna take some time off and then get back to work and see if we can’t get back down here.”