John Essex girls hold off Linden rally

Published 11:04 pm Monday, December 15, 2008

The Patriot girls made their run late, but it proved to no avail as John Essex (3-3) held off Linden for a 45-35 win to move to 2-0 in area play Saturday evening.

In a game characterized by periods of strong defense and both teams’ inability to take care of the basketball, John Essex got enough from its usual balanced attack to to pick up the victory less than 24 hours after suffering a 40-point road loss to Marengo High.

“I told them that when the game was over, I wanted us to be 2-0 in the area,” Means said of the direction he gave his team following a loss that could have proven to have negative lingering effects on his young team. “If they can stay focused, they have a chance to be very successful.”

The Lady Hornets exhibited little lag out of the gate as they carried a 21-14 lead to the locker room at halftime.

“Amelia Hackworth and Meghan Wright stepped up for us. It was a tremendous effort on their part,” Means said. “Some people are starting to step up that weren’t performing the first few games.”

Down the stretch, Linden relied heavily upon the efforts of Kileema Rogers to claw its way back into the game and close the gap before the JEHS got enough of a handle on its free throw shooting to put the contest away.

“It was a huge crowd out,” Means said. “I thought that may have played a factor. A few of (the John Essex players) were nervous.”

Means said his team exhibited a newly-forming resiliency in order to hang on to the game.

“We committed a few turnovers in the fourth quarter. I wasn’t pleased with that,” Means said. “But we played sound defense there at the end. The thing about it was they didn’t quit.”

Wright and Brittney Gray each finished with a game-high 12 points for John Essex. Jamie Johnson added nine for the Lady Hornets, who will travel to Sunshine Thursday evening before hosting Sweet Water Friday night.

Rogers scored 10 points to lead Linden while Megin Hinton added seven. Linden (0-3) visits Sweet Water tonight before traveling to A.L. Johnson Saturday.