Basketball girls seek revenge against Jefferson City

Emily Wright

Infographic by Joanne Lee.

It has been one year since the Lady Bruins basketball team met its devastating end in the district championships against Jefferson City Jays. It was a narrow loss with a final score of 34-33, shocking the favored RBHS team.

At 6 p.m. tomorrow at Smith Cotton High School they will have a shot at revenge. After beating Smith Cotton in the district semi-finals Tuesday night 54-14, the Lady Bruins will play Jefferson City for the 2012 district title. This time, RBHS plans to take home the trophy to move on to the state championships.

“Our number one goal is to win districts,” coach Jill Nagel said. “We realize this year that didn’t happen last year. You can’t do step B until you do step A, so we are really just trying to stay focused on districts.”

However, they realize this will not be an easy task. The unranked Jays have proven they will not go down without a fight. During their game against the Bruins Feb. 9, they led by 11 points through the first quarter. Though the first ranked Bruins made a comeback and won 72-51, the Jays showed they have the ability to compete.

“We know a lot of [Jefferson City’s] players,” junior Makenzie Skrabal said. “A lot of our girls play with one of their best players, [freshman Napheesa Collier]. She is really good, and Jeff City is pretty good this year. I don’t just think of it as a bump along the road. I think of it as a pretty big game.”

Another obstacle the girls face is the absence of second leading scorer, sophomore Bri Porter. Last year, Porter tore her ACL and was out for the post-season. This year during the game against HHS on Jan. 25, Porter tore her ACL for the second time, forcing her into surgery that required disappointing months of recovery. Her sister, freshman Cierra Porter, is now part of the starting line-up to take Bri’s place.

“Those are big shoes to fill,” Cierra said. “When we found out she tore her ACL again, I felt so sad for her. We will have to get it done somehow without her.”

Nagel is confident her team can pick up the slack from Porter’s absence with their record. Since Porter’s injury, the girls have won every game, including those against third ranked St. Joseph’s Academy and fifth ranked Fort Zumwalt West. And with nine girls on the roster over six feet tall and the addition of Cierra to the starting line-up, Nagel thinks they have the depth to play well without Bri.

“We are very consistent in the way that we approach practice and our preparation for games,” Nagel said. “It helps the kids focus on what we are trying to do. Bri has great teammates around her that are there to pick her up, and we have people that can fill those roles in terms of scoring and rebounding.”

Tomorrow, the Lady Bruins plan to enact the approach Nagel has emphasized all season long. Skrabal said they will treat the district championships like any other game, going through their usual pre-game ritual of dancing in the locker room and keeping a level head on the court. Through this they hope to stay calm and focused and ultimately attain a district title.

“Of course there is going to be more pressure at districts because you lose and you are done. In the regular season you lose, you keep going and you keep getting better,” Skrabal said. “So there’s going to be a lot more intensity, but we try not to think about how good we are because we don’t want to lose to a team that we know we are better than.”

By Emily Wright