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John Essex girls sting A.L. Johnson

The John Essex girls dropped A.L. Johnson 55-21 for their second win in less than a week over the squad.

“We’ve been practicing and dedicating and going all out,” JEHS head coach Fentress Means said of his girls’ marked improvement since their season-opening loss.

The Lady Hornets came out strong in the first quarter, rushing out to a 19-4 lead before carrying a 27-10 advantage into the half.

Means said repitition has been the key to his team’s progress.

“Everything we do, we di it numerous times,” Means said.

The biggest difference in the team, according to Means, is its defensive play.

“That’s the biggest thing with me,” Means said. “I’ve always stress that in anything I coach. Defense is the key.”

That defense was called upon Tuesday night to slow A.L. Johnson’s leading scorer, Charlester Wims, who dropped 13 on the JEHS in the teams’ first meeting.

“I give her a lot of credit. She played with a lot of heart,” Means said of Wims, who scored 17 points despite nursing a sore hip. “If all my girls play that hard, we’ll win the state championship.”

Means was pleased with the intensity his team showed on the defensive end Tuesday.

“I’m very proud of the defensive effort Dondrea Johnson, Keaundra Bennett and Megan Wright put forth,” Means said. “The defensive intensity was good. I’m really proud of the defensive intensity.”

Means’ team also put together a balanced offensive attack that saw two players score in double figures and two others come within a single shot of reaching the milestone.

“Knowing that you have several options is good,” Means said. “That’s good from an offensive standpoint, being able to move and share and get everyone involved.”

Jamie Johnson led John Essex with 15 points. Wright added 10 while Dondrea Johnson finished with nine. Nayesha Daniels added eight points in the win.

Still, Means said the most remarkable part of the girls’ early-season success has been the involvement of community members.

“I appreciate the fan support. We had a lot of people out to support these kids and that’s what we need in this Jefferson community,” Means said.

He also expressed his appreciation for assistant coaches Ronald Smith and Ada Phillips. Means said both have played considerable roles in the girls’ early development.

“They’re doing a tremendous job with keeping the girls’ confidence up,” Means said. “It’s going to take dedication and teamwork on everybody’s part.”