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Jefferson finds way back to state tourney

February 27, 2002|BY DAN SPEARS

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Jefferson forward Genelle Botje couldn't remember much about her team's first matchup with Keyser this season. For the teams' game over the Christmas break, she was so sick she barely did much of anything.

The rest of her teammates, however, did. And whatever the mindset of the Cougars' players, Keyser never had a chance Tuesday night in the Class AAA Region II final.

Jefferson started strong and got better as the game wore on, dominating the pivotal interior matchups and playing outstanding half-court defense for a 60-44 victory and the team's third-ever trip to the state tournament.

"This is such a big change from the last game," Botje said of the difference between Tuesday night and Keyser's controversial 45-44 victory on Dec. 27. "Tonight, everything was clicking."

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Jefferson (20-4) led 18-8 just 4 1/2 minutes into the game behind Botje and Lindsay Edwards. After Megan Bloomer's 3 opened the scoring, the two combined for the next 15 Jefferson points on Edwards' drives into the lane and Botje's dominance on the glass.

"We talked about that," Jefferson coach Cheryl Roberts said. "How we have got to be ready and not be afraid to shoot the ball because our big girls are in there."

Botje and Sheron Yates owned the paint in this one, pushing around Keyser's duo of Megan and Autumn Boehmes. Autumn Boehmes scored 24 points, but nine were in the final quarter when the game was far out of hand.

Meanwhile, Botje (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Yates (eight points, eight rebounds) spread their damage throughout the game.

"We knew we had to do our best tonight and play above the normal levels," Yates said. "And I think more competition makes you work harder, too."

It was clearly evident in the third quarter. Jefferson led 31-20 at halftime, then finished putting the clamps on what was left of Keyser's offense. The Cougars got four offensive rebound buckets in the quarter and limited the Golden Tornado to 2-for-16 shooting.

"Coach said that defense wins games like this," Yates said. "That's all we worked on at practice last night. And it worked again tonight."

By then, it was a 52-26 Jefferson lead and the reserves were in. To that point, Keyser had shot just 11-for-51 (21.6 percent) from the floor.

The party had officially started.

"All year we've been focused on this," Botje said. "I don't know what we would have done if we lost.

"We worked as a team tonight. And when we do that, we're pretty hard to beat."

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