Jay bounces back

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LIVERMORE FALLS – The Jay girls’ basketball team had a sizable chip on their shoulders Thursday night.

Still reeling from the news of three games lost to forfeit, the Tigers were playing their rivals from Livermore Falls, a team that beat Jay twice last year. The Tigers were also hearing plenty of talk about them being a one-player team. So Jay had something to prove against the Andies and did just that in a convincing 74-50 win.

“It’s such a good feeling,” said junior guard Liz LeBlanc. “Everybody pulled their weight. We all just wanted it so bad.”

The Tigers (4-4) were near the top of the Western C Heals before forfeiting three games because of an ineligible player. Jay, which will appeal the forfeits January 31, still remained in the top eight in unofficial standings and appeared back on track after the disappointment earlier in the week.

“I’d never beaten them in my high school career,” said LeBlanc of the Andies. “I think we all really wanted it, and with everything going on, it makes it that much better.”

Kaylie DeMillo led the Tigers with 27 points, but LeBlanc added 16 and Mallory Bonnevie had 12. Brianna Beisaw and Hillary Deane chipped in eight and six points respectively.

“We played like a team,” said Jay coach Chris Bessey. “Kaylie was our leading scorer, but it was a team win.”

The Andies (4-3) got 19 from Caryn Howell and 12 from Marjorie DeBrosky. The Andies were already short-handed with starter Missi O’Connor out with an illness. With even less depth than usual, Livermore had trouble keeping pace with the Tigers, who blew open the game with a 20-7 second quarter.

“We played hard,” said Livermore coach Frank Donald. “We played much better than we played at Mt. Abram. We just didn’t play with intensity up there. We played with intensity, but we just ran out of gas.”

After a frantic 19-18 first quarter, the Andies discovered the fast pace was too much for them to handle. Jay kept up the pressure and could sense the Andies wilting.

“I liked the way we were going,” said Bessey. “I think their kids were getting tired.”

Jay burst ahead with 11 straight points to start the second quarter, turning the 19-18 lead into a 30-18 advantage. The Andies struggled to keep pace. Livermore missed its first six shots, turned the ball over regularly and watched starters DeBrosky, Rachel Ventrella and Kendra Lyman get into foul trouble. The Andies didn’t get its first field goal of the quarter until 3:10 remained in the half.

“We kept pushing it,” said LeBlanc. “We’re good at playing that pace. I think we just wanted it so bad that we’d give anything we had.”

Jay was up by as many as 16 in the second quarter, but Livermore managed to trim the deficit after the intermission. The Andies had six straight points to start the second half and had a chance to cut the lead to six but missed the shot. Jay came down and drew the fourth foul on DeBrosky. DeMillo hit two free throws to bump the lead back to eight. Livermore never got any closer.

“They competed,” said Donald. “Next to the Mountain Valley game, that’s the best we’ve played. If we play with that style of ball, we’ll win a lot of games.”

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