Jay girls just short of hoops win

That elusive first victory managed to escape from the clutches of the Merrill girls hoops team yet again on Friday. The host Bluejays led nearly the entire game, but Medford pulled out a 44-39 victory with a strong last-minute finish.
“We led the whole game and we kind of let it slip away with less than a minute left in the game,” MHS coach Melissa Yuska said. “We just couldn’t hang on. It’s a tough loss because it’s a game we should have won.
“It’s disappointing especially when we need to get a win under our belt to start the season.”
Late turnovers turned the tide for the team that topped Merrill for last year’s GNC title. The Raiders had been 11-1 and suffered their only conference loss to the 8-4 runner-up Jays.
“We were up by one with less than a minute to go and they made a steal and a basket to go up by one,” Yuska said. “Then we had another turnover and missed a couple of free throws down the stretch. They made some free throws down the stretch to seal the deal.
“Realistically, when I watched the tape, we really got beat in transition quite a bit. When we missed a shot they just kept pushing the ball, and us getting beat in transition caught up to us in the end.”
The Jays finally found a way to put some points on the board, after struggling in their first three outings. They built 13-4 and 23-18 leads through the first two quarters, then played the third to an 8-8 tie before getting out-scored 18-8 in the fourth. Medford’s Taylor Kuhn scored 8 of her game-high 15 points in the fourth.
Andi English and Jourdyn Mootz each scored a team-high 10 points for the Jays, and English grabbed 6 rebounds. Aly Brandvold also pulled down 6 rebounds, and Mootz and Renee Sladek had 5 apiece. Brandvold, Sladek, Emma Sowieja and Liz Smith all added 4 points. Sowieja tacked on 3 rebounds.
“The positive side for us was our offense did some really nice things,” Yuska said. “Scoring 13 points in the first quarter was nice to see and we scored 10 more in the second quarter.
“If we keep coming to practice and working hard, we can put four quarters of offense together and improve our defense.”
Merrill-FG: 18-59 (31%); FT: 3-8 (38%). Medford-FG: 16; FT: 10-13 (77%).

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