A women's basketball game between the Jamestown Community College Jayhawks and the Genesee CC Lady Cougars is always a battle. That's because they have been a couple of the top teams in NJCAA Region 3 Division II and have met in the championship game numerous times.
Thursday it was no different, even though JCC came into the contest with a record of 14-9 overall and 2-4 in Region 3 Division II while Genesee was surprisingly 1-18 and 0-5. The Jayhawks ended up winning by 20, 72-52, but the final score wasn't an indication of how close the game was.
After leading by 13 at halftime, the Jayhawks saw their lead dwindle to five with 11:35 left to play.
It brought back memories of when the Lady Cougars won six straight Region 3 Division II titles from 1992-97 and then returned to the title game five straight years from 2007-11 and won four with the only loss coming to JCC in 2010.
It also brought back recent memories for first-year JCC coach George Sisson, who recalled getting out of Genesee back on Jan. 24 with a five-point victory.
''The crazy thing is at up at their place when the game was a little tighter, they hit some of those crazy threes,'' he said. ''I was nervous right down to the end (on Thursday) because up there they banked a couple of threes in, they hit the front of the rim and they went up and fell over (into the basket).''
That didn't happen this time.
''I thought our defense was much improved tonight and much more focused,'' Sisson said. ''I don't think we let them catch the ball very easy where they wanted to catch and operate from.''
The game was moving at a snail's pace, at least scoring-wise, for the first 9minutes as JCC held a slim 10-7 lead. The Jayhawks were getting one shot on offense and couldn't grab the rebound. At the other end of the court, Genesee was popping up numerous long-range shots, those ''crazy threes'' Sisson talked about from the first game, but on Thursday were off target.
However, the pace was fine with Sisson.
''I really wanted to cut down our turnovers,'' he said. ''I wanted us to be a little bit more in control. I didn't want them getting crazy turnovers to let them gain any momentum to get into the game.''
After a timeout, JCC turned up the tempo and the scoring.
Lauren Saglimben came off the bench and she usually sparks the team with 3-pointers. This time she sparked the Jayhawks with back-to-back drives to the basket. Those layups were followed with a 3-pointer by Ashley DePane and JCC had an eight-point run for an 18-7 lead.
''The difference for her on the drives was that she used the glass,'' Sisson said about Saglimben. ''Both of them were difficult shots. They weren't easy layups, they were in traffic. But she used the glass and the glass was her best friend.''
He added, ''That was something that we worked on in the game before, trying to attack the rim and not necessarily just settle early for perimeter jump shots.''
The margin was expanded to 16 points on an inside shot by Kristin Biela with 20 seconds left in the half. However, just before the buzzer, the Jayhawks left Dominique Davis wide open and she hit a 3-pointer to cut the JCC lead to 31-18 at halftime.
Genesee pulled within nine early in the second half. Then with most of it points from the foul line, JCC opened up a 15-point advantage. And it could have been larger as the Jayhawks missed two ''bunnies'' in the opening minute.
Then Genesee came to life and went on a 12-2 run to pull within five, 41-36, with 12:15 left to play.
Things looked worse for JCC a minute later when Kelsie Beaver fouled out after getting a personal and a technical, and DePane picked up her fourth foul.
''The game was officiated tonight different than it's been officiated the entire year,'' said Sisson about the three technicals in the game with two on the Jayhawks. ''The problem was we didn't make any adjustments.''
He added, ''That really made me nervous when Beaver went out. I thought Beaver played pretty well in the first half. I'm nervous about how we're going to score points in the last 10 minutes of the game.''
Then Brooke Draggett provided the answer.
After sinking a free throw, the Cassadaga Valley graduate converted a three-point play to put JCC in front by nine.
DePane followed with a 3-pointer and JCC led by 12, 50-38, with nine minutes to play.
''I thought Draggett's back cut for the layup from (Taylor) Storer was a wonderful read and something we didn't do a month ago, even two weeks ago,'' Sisson said.
DePane, with four fouls, went to the bench and Alex Smith came in and scored on a fast break and later hit a 3 to give the Jayhawks a 65-49 lead with 3:40 left and they coasted home from there.
Depane led JCC with 18 points while Storer had 14.
Sisson was pleased with 10 points from Draggett and eight from Biela.
''There's 18 points from my four and five,'' Sisson said. ''We haven't had that in a long time. It's a credit to those two ladies coming out and doing well.''
Davis led Genesee with 15 points.
Next for JCC is a Region 3 Division II home game on Saturday at 1 p.m. against Erie CC, the defending regional champion that defeated the Jayhawks in the title game last season. The Lady Kats are 16-4 overall and 7-0 in Region 3 Division II.
''We're looking forward to Saturday,'' Sisson said. ''Erie is going to want to run, they're going to want to press us. We played a wonderful game up there against them. We lost by 12 at their place and Taylor fouled out with four or five minutes to play.''
Davis 5 3-7 15, Janes 4 0-0 8, Jenifer 1 6-12 8, Scarborough 1 0-0 2, Hennings 2 1-2 5, Akagami 1 3-5 5, Moultrie 1 0-0 2, James 3 1-1 7, Totals 18 14-27 52.
Storer 5 3-4 14, Beaver 3 2-2 9, Sheldon 0 0-0 0, Biela 3 2-2 8, Saglimben 2 1-2 5, Draggett 4 2-3 10, DePane 5 2-8 18, Kickbush 0 0-0 0, Smith 3 0-0 8, Totals 25 16-21 72.
Halftime-JCC 31, Genesee 18. 3-point goals-Davis 2, Beaver, DePane 2, Smith 2. Total fouls-Genesee 17, JCC 16. Fouled out -Beaver, Akagami. Technical-Beaver, James, DePane.