JACKSON — For the style of basketball it plays, a number of things went Jackson’s way on Friday.
However, the one thing that didn’t exactly go to plan was how it shot from the floor, which was its ultimate downfall.
The Ironladies shot less than 20 percent from the field and run out of gas down the stretch, ending in a 40-23 season opening loss to River Valley.
“We played really hard until the last buzzer, but we struggled to put the ball in the basket despite getting some good looks,” Jackson coach Matt Wilburn said. “River Valley has two really good players and I thought we did a nice job keying on them. We executed our gameplan, but when baskets don’t fall, it’s tough to win.”
Maybe it was the nerves of opening night for both teams, but neither could buy a single bucket in the beginning.
It took until the 4:37 mark for the first shot to fall, which was an and-1 by Jackson’s Katelyn Webb to put the Ironladies ahead 3-0.
However, River Valley’s Payton Crabtree led the Raiders back by scoring five points on a 7-0 run to end the quarter as they led 7-3.
The shooting struggles continued for both teams in the second, but River Valley maintained a 13-8 lead at halftime.
“We shot just 18 percent in the first half and were only trailing by five points, so we felt pretty good overall,” Wilburn said. “Defensively we didn’t make any adjustments because there wasn’t a need to. Down just 13-8, we were doing our job, and now it’s on us to keep shooting and hope a few more shots begin to fall.”
Both teams shook off a less than ideal first half, and connected on a pair of shots to open the third quarter.
But River Valley’s Hannah Jacks and Crabtree each buried a pair of 3-pointers to put the Raiders ahead 20-12.
With the quarter coming to a close, and Jackson trailing just 20-14, the Raiders came up with five points in the final 20 seconds. That put the lead up to double digits at 25-14 and changed all momentum.
“We started to get tired at that point and that five point swing changed everything,” Wilburn said. “We were running just six or seven kids at that point and a couple kids never left the floor. Our goal was to keep River Valley under 10 points a quarter, but once the lead got to double digits, it put us even further behind the eight ball.”
While the game wasn’t necessarily out of reach at that point, Crabtree put the final dagger in as she drilled back-to-back 3’s, putting the Raiders ahead 33-16 and ultimately sealing the deal on the evening.
“Everything boils down to one thing, we didn’t shoot the ball well,” Wilburn said. “Overall, I was happy with our defense and I thought we did some good things like boxing out. Our effort was there, the shots just weren’t. We’re capable of scoring, it just didn’t happen in this one. We’ll get back at it and keep plugging away.”
Jackson is back in action on Saturday at Miami Trace and Monday on the road at Crooksville before returning home on Wednesday against McClain.