Grace-d by her presence: Jackson’s basket with 3.8 seconds left lifts Rochester over Goshen
Holloway leads Lady Zs with 14, who win without Burkett, Thomas
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
WINONA LAKE — The Rochester girls basketball team traveled the extra mile, or at least the extra 10 feet, to beat Goshen Thursday.
Running an inbounds play they have run all season, the result trumped the execution and led to the first game-winning basket in junior Kennedy Jackson’s career.
Jackson’s 13 points came in support of Rily Holloway’s team-high 14 as the Lady Zs edged the Lady RedHawks 42-40 at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center on the campus of Grace College.
Tori Eldridge scored a game-high 15 for Goshen (8-12), all in the first half. Kyra Hill added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
But it was Brooklynn Collins, who did not score in Goshen’s win over Jimtown on Tuesday and who didn’t score in the first 31 minutes Thursday, who tied the game 40-40 with 42.8 seconds left.
Goshen called timeout.
Rochester (14-7) ran the clock down to 11.0 seconds and called timeout.
College courts are 94 feet long while an IHSAA regulation court is 84 feet, so there was a little more ground to cover when Sydney Haughs made the inbounds pass to Kallie Watson.
Watson took the inbounds pass and dribbled to the right wing at a 45-degree angle from Jackson who dove to the post. Holloway started in the left corner on the weak side and cut along the baseline to the right corner, but Watson threaded a bounce pass in between Eldridge and teammate Sarah Harmelink to Jackson.
Hill, a 6-2 senior post, was playing behind the 5-8 Jackson. Hill swatted Jackson’s first shot with her left hand. She tried to tip it up but could not corral it. Jackson grabbed it and quickly laid it off the glass and in with 3.8 seconds left.
“That play is the same play we run every time with every out-of-bounds play,” Rochester coach Brian Jennings said. “One, we look for Millie first. We look for Holloway in the corner. And then we go opposite side and look for Kennedy. We have been trying to get that, trying to get that, trying to get that all year long, and we finally got it to where we wanted the ball. I’ve always been (that) under circumstances like that, try not to do anything new. Do what we always do. And we just emphasize this is what we do. And the girls went out and got it done.”
Jackson said Jennings had predicted a moment like that would happen to her three weeks ago.
“I don’t like getting blocked, so whenever I’m getting blocked, I don’t go up,” Jackson said. “But I knew it was going to come right down to me, and if I caught it and went back up, it was going to go in. I knew it. … That was weird. All year, Jennings has been telling me, ‘Don’t be scared, Jackson. If she blocks you, it’s going to come right back down to you, so you can put up a layup.’ He told me at the Twin Lakes tournament (Dec. 28-29). … I did it up there, and I knew tonight that if she blocked me, don’t get mad, just go right back up.”
Goshen called timeout and advanced the ball to halfcourt and called another timeout with 2.2 seconds left before Harmelink missed a contested right corner 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Rochester won without their two seniors. Point guard Kami Burkett suffered a torn left ACL against Tippecanoe Valley Saturday and will miss the remainder of the regular season. Jennings said Burkett will be fitted for a brace and will attempt to play at the sectional, which starts Feb. 1 at Lewis Cass.
Also, all-TRC forward Lexy Thomas missed the game with a left hip injury. Thomas suffered the injury during volleyball season and will likely need surgery after the season.
Jennings said the longer floor at Grace was a factor in deciding to sit Thomas. He said Thomas will play against Manchester at home on Saturday.
“The hip really flared up after the Tippy Valley game,” Jennings said. “So we rested her on Monday. She was still a little sore on Tuesday. So we said, ‘Hey, going to play on the college-length court, let’s just shut you down. We’ll bring you back Friday.’ And she’ll be back on the court on Saturday. We just didn’t want her taking that pounding on this court this week.”
The injury to Thomas meant that freshman forward Audrey Bolinger made her first career varsity start. Holloway, who led the team in scoring off the bench against Valley, started this time.
Holloway scored 11 points in the first half, including three treys, and Lillith Eaton also knocked down a triple in the second quarter to cap a 10-0 run and give Rochester their biggest lead at 23-16.
But a Hill 3-point play, two Eldridge free throws and a sweet feed from Hill to a cutting Eldridge tied the game.
It was 25-25 at halftime.
Jackson’s 3-point play off a post drop-step move gave the Lady Zs a 32-30 lead with 3:24 left in the third quarter.
As it turned out, they would never trail again.
Harmelink did tie the game with 12 seconds left in the quarter with a 10-footer from the right baseline, but Holloway and Haughs each hit 3-pointers to start the fourth quarter and put Rochester back up by six.
Hill hit two free throws, but Scorsone found Jackson on an inside-out pass for a 15-footer and a 40-34 lead. But four missed free throws were glaring as Goshen came back to tie it.
Hill started the rally with two free throws, and Breyana Cline popped open for a layup on an inbounds play to cut the deficit to two.
However, Goshen had only two field goals as compared to seven turnovers in the fourth quarter.
“That was huge,” Goshen coach Shaun Hill said of the turnovers. “We climbed out of it, but we shouldn’t be in that position in the fourth quarter.
The JV game was a 10-minute exhibition held at halftime of the varsity game.
Shaun Hill was the girls basketball coach at Bremen from 2014-16. One of his players was Alexis Waldron, who is Jennings’ daughter and a 2017 Bremen grad.
“I’ve known coach Jennings since I coached his daughter over at Bremen,” coach Hill said. “I had her for two years over there. Great family there. I loved seeing them again as always. Great guy there.”
Karlee Feldman, a 2019 Bremen grad who now plays at Grace College, was in attendance. She was a high school teammate of Waldron’s.
The Rochester boys basketball team lost to Jimtown 73-58 at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center on Jan. 24, 2015. No Rochester team, girls or boys, had played an in-season game at the MOCC since then.
Watson recited a pregame prayer.
Rochester 42, Goshen 40
GOSHEN (40) (8-12)
Sarah Harmelink 1 0-0 2, Brooklyn Collins 1 0-0 2, Breyana Cline 3 0-0 8, Tori Eldridge 5 5-7 15, Kyra Hill 3 7-7 13, Briana Valderrama 0 0-0 0, Maddie Garber 0 0-0 0, Trinity Nemeth 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 13 12-14 40
ROCHESTER (42) (14-7)
Rily Holloway 5 0-0 14, Kallie Watson 1 0-3 3, Audrey Bolinger 0 0-0 0, Sydney Haughs 1 0-0 3, Millie Scorsone 2 2-2 6, Ella McCarter 0 0-0 0, Lilith Eaton 1 0-0 3, Kennedy Jackson 5 3-5 13
TEAM: 15 5-10 42
Three-point field goals:
Goshen 2 (Cline 2),
Rochester 7 (Holloway 4, Watson, Eaton, Haughs)
Total fouls: Goshen 13, Rochester 12
Turnovers: Goshen 20, Rochester 16
Score by quarters
Goshen 11 14 7 8 – 40
Rochester 10 15 7 10 – 42
Watch Full Game Here: