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Bluejays clip ‘Cards, Falcons

Bluejays clip ‘Cards, Falcons Bluejays clip ‘Cards, Falcons

Athens stays at .500 after going 2-3 in last five

There’s nothing like a rivalry game to bring out the best in a team.

Athens head coach Kyncaide Keefe definitely used that angle as motivation during the Athens girls game with Abbotsford on Thursday.

“That was something we said at halftime,” Keefe said. “This is Abbotsford, they’re just 15 minutes away. We see them twice this year, they’re conference rivals, let’s be 2-0.”

The Bluejays started the game with the lead, but with a year under Ally Meserole’s system, Abbotsford is playing better and with more confidence. The Falcons knocked down several triples, and used backdoor cuts and pick and rolls to get a 16-7 lead with 10:25 to play, and things looked bleak for the ‘Jays.

That’s when Keefe called a time-out and reminded Athens that they had a height advantage over their rivals.

“That was the game plan coming in. We didn’t really see it until the second half, but once we started doing that the girls were like ‘Oh shoot, this is actually working! We should keep trying it!’ After that, it ws a simple matter to crash the glass, get second chance points, and when that failed, draw the foul.

None did that better than McKennzie Schug, who was a one woman wrecking crew in the paint on Thursday night. Schug pulled down eight rebounds, and Jazelle Hartwig was even more impressive on the glass, reellng in 11 rebounds and scoring 13 points for a double-double.

“Offensive rebounds were key tonight,” Schug said. “Our coach said it in the locker room that she wanted us to focus very hard on those.”

But it was Schug’s scoring that was the star, as she led all players with 25 points, the majority coming from down low.

Athens needed every basket too. The Falcons speed and shooting kept them in front 30-27 at the break. Coach Keefe put that break to good use, giving her team a little pep talk.

“When we went into the locker room at halftime we said ‘This isn’t us. We’re better than this,’” Schug said. “Our coach boosted up our confidence and as soon as we started crashing more, started getting inside, we got back into the game.”

The Falcons continued their hot shooting in the second half to open on an 8-2 run that made it 38-29 with 12:50 to play.

But with the rivalry as motivation, Schug went back to work in the second half, hammering away at Abby in the

I’LL TAKE THIS- Sophia Coker races past Abbotsford’s Sydney Falteisek for a loose ball on Thursday as the Bluejays overcame a slow start to defeat the Falcons. Athens topped the Falcons and Newman Catholic, and are 3-3 on the year.STAFF PHOTO/ROSS PATTERMANN