When Jefferson plays sound defensively and Tara Scales gets touches on offense, the Lady Elks can play “pretty good basketball” according to their coach.
While it wasn’t a thing of beauty, Stacey Morgan will take a conference road victory any day.
That’s exactly what he got as Jefferson Middle outlasted Lincoln Heights 26-22 in Monday’s game at Lincoln Heights Middle School.
Scales amassed 10 points in the first half alone, but a box and-one strategy by Lincoln Heights (0-1 Middle Eight Conference) slowed her down in the second half.
But with the Lady Patriots inching closer and trailing by just one, Scales delivered as she buried a midrange jumper for a 23-20 lead with 1:15 on the clock — snapping a nearly seven-minute field goal drought for the Lady Elks (1-0).
“She really did take over,” Morgan said. “It’s the best offensive game she’s played all year. She’s got a lot of talent.”
Scales pulled down seven rebounds and accumulated four steals in addition to her 12 points.
Still, LHMS battled with Zakira Shepard sinking a pair of free throws for a 23-22 deficit with 40 seconds left.
Jefferson held firm after that, though, with SaMaura Shannon and Abby Mullins — who buried a 3-pointer for a 20-14 lead in the third quarter — both icing the game at the charity stripe. Shannon totaled two points and a team-high 12 rebounds.
“Some of the defensive plays at the end, all the girls really got with it,” Morgan said.
One of those girls was Kelsie Whited who scored seven points, pulled down 10 boards and was responsible for all of Jefferson’s first quarter scoring as she put back a pair of misses — the first of which came through contact for a three-point play.
Evelyn Lopez pulled the Lady Patriots even at 5 midway through the second quarter, but Scales then took over and scored 10 points in a spurt of 3:05. She sparked an 8-0 run with an and-one before converting a steal into a score and then driving to the basket for a 12-5 lead.
Shepard followed a Mia Dinkins runner with a transition layup to pull LHMS within four, but Scales answered with a 3 from the wing for a 16-9 lead, which Shepard helped cut to 16-12 at the break with a layup off an inbounds pass.
“Zakira is probably the best shooter on the team. If she can get going, I think we’ll be hard to stop,” Lincoln…