Jefferson girls defeat Edgerton
JEFFERSON — Two five-point bursts in the second half by seniors Rachael Neitzel and Halle Peterson, accompanied by a customary 17-point performance by junior Olivia Ganser, helped the Jefferson Eagles earn a 41-34 victory over Edgerton in a Rock Valley Conference girls basketball game on Friday night.
Peterson made a 3-pointer to give the Eagles a 24-17 lead with 7:49 to play. The bucket snapped a stagnant Jefferson stretch and spark a 12-0 run for the Eagles. Just over a minute later, Peterson forced a turnover and scored again to take a 28-17 lead.
Perhaps her most pivotal play of the run came when she confiscated a rebound from an Edgerton defender after a missed layup by Ganser and made a layup to give Jefferson an unorthodox 3-point possession.
All it took was seeing a 3-pointer go through the basket to inspire confidence in Peterson after first-half foul trouble as a result of guarding Kate Fox Gunderson, Edgerton’s best offensive threat, sidelined Peterson.
“In the second half, my confidence was back up after being down with all of those fouls I knew that we all had to work hard on defense to stop them from getting any easy baskets,” Peterson said.
Earlier in the second half, Neitzel had a similar moment. The senior guard used an up-and-under post move, which brought the Jefferson bench to its feet for the first basket of the half with 17:20 to play. Conversely, Ganser made the first field goal of the first half with 9:32 to play.
Three possessions later, Neitzel made a 3-pointer to take a 18-9 lead, again building confidence in the Eagles.
“I think we realized as captains that we need to step up because we can’t always rely on Liv and (sophomore point guard) Ainsley (Howard),” Neitzel said. “I think that really helped us because we started moving the ball better and we got everyone else open by using what we had and all of our energy to build our momentum.”
Peterson finished with 11 points and Neitzel had five.
“It comes back to seniors get it a little bit more than the other people do at times because they’ve been there, they have a little bit more experience,” said first-year Jefferson head coach Evan Hibbs. “In big moments, they’ve played other sports and all those things, so the seniors can step up in those moments of pressure and hit some big shots and make big plays when they need them to.”
True to form in the games closing minutes, Ganser offered enough offensive firepower to put the Eagles over the edge. The do-it-all junior made nine of her 14 free throws in the second half after scoring nine of the team’s 11 points in the first half.
At various moments in the second half, it was evident Jefferson was making a concerted effort to attack the Edgerton zone in the middle either to Ganser or otherwise.
“There are certain spots in a zone, no matter what defense a team is playing, you’re always going to have a little bit of success,” Hibbs said. “Getting the ball into the middle, just because a team is playing zone, you have to get the ball into the middle and I think that’s part of (the low scoring output) too.”
With that in mind, Hibbs encouraged the Eagles to be more aggressive.
“There’s a difference between being out of control aggressive and having freedom,” Hibbs said. “I kind of wanted the girls to feel like they had freedom. I didn’t feel like they had that in the first half and they started to overthink things.”
Jefferson will try to build on its victory with a home game against Burlington on Monday at 7:15 p.m.
JEFFERSON 41, EDGERTON 34
Edgerton 7 27 — 34
Jefferson 11 30 — 41
Edgerton (fg-ft-tp) — Rebman 1-2-4, Demrow 2-1-5, Fox Gunderson 5-8-19, Danks 0-1-1, Zeimet 1-0-2, Radtke 1-0-3. Totals 10-12-34.
Jefferson (fg-ft-tp) — Ganser 3-11-17, Howard 2-1-6, Neitzel 2-0-5, H. Peterson 3-4-11, J. Peterson 0-1-1, Beck 0-1-1. Totals — 10-18-41.
3-pointers — E , J 3 (Howard, Neitzel, H. Peterson).
Total Fouls — E 16, J 16.