Tigers shake off Andies

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JAY – The momenum did not last long. Liz LeBlanc made sure of that.

After Livermore Falls tied the game in overtime Monday night, Jay’s sophomore guard wasted little time putting her Tigers back in the driver’s seat. Before the Andies even had time to relish the tying basket with 1:39 left, LeBlanc was already on the move at the other end of the court. She blew past a defender for the go-ahead layup.

“I just pushed the ball because there was only one girl down there, and I had a one-on-one,” said LeBlanc. “I went around her and went in for a layup.”

Moments later, LeBlanc hit a free throw to put Jay ahead by three, and the Tigers held off an Andies rally in a 57-53 win.

“We knew it was going to be tough,” said LeBlanc. “We really wanted to win.”

The Tigers had beaten Jay just weeks ago with a convincing 74-50 win, but the Andies made a game of this one. Both teams were 8-6 coming in and jockeying for positioning in the Western C standings. Jay (9-6) was fifth while Livermore Falls (8-7) was seventh.

Kaylie DeMillo led the Tigers with 29 points while LeBlanc and Mallory Bonnevie each finished with eight. Livermore Falls got 26 from Marjorie DeBrosky while Caryn Howell and Rachel Ventrella each added eight.

It wasn’t the fast-paced, free-for-all the first meeting featured. This was a battle of the zone defense and offense that struggled to hit shots at times. The largest lead of the first half was just six points, and it wasn’t until the Tigers burst ahead 42-35 to end the third that the game shifted in one team’s favor. Bonnevie and Kristen Adams led the 12-3 Tiger run that opened the lead.

A DeMillo drive early in the fourth had Jay up 44-36.

“I felt comfortable when we had the eight-point lead in the fourth,” said Jay coach Chris Bessey. “We were in that tough spot where you have too much time left to stall, and there’s enough time left where you still want to play.”

Jay still had a 46-40 lead with 3:14 left but missed free throws and turnovers opened the door for the Andies to tie it. Ventrella drilled a 3-pointer with 2:52 left, and DeBrosky put back a rebound with 1:45 remaining to get the Andies within 46-45. After Brianna Beisaw hit one free throw with 1:14 remaining, the Andies tied it with 34 seconds left in regulation. Howell put back a rebound of a DeBrosky miss.

Jay lost the ball out of bounds with 17 seconds left, giving the Andies one last crack at the game-winner. The Tigers defense made the stop and the best Livermore Falls could get was a rushed Missi O’Connor try in the closing seconds that was partially blocked.

“I thought our girls did a tremendous job with 17 seconds to go in a tie game,” said Bessey. “We really forced them to take a bad shot.”

Jay quickly seized control in overtime. DeMillo scored on a drive and hit a pair of free throws. The Andies tied it on two foul shots from Rebecca Leclerc and a nifty pass by Leclerc to DeBrosky behind the defense with 1:39 left. LeBlanc quickly answered that, giving the Tigers command. Jay remained composed down the stretch, and the Andies struggled to force mistakes.

“That’s a tribute to Kaylie,” said Bessey. “It’s nice to have her be able to control the ball for us.”

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