FARMINGTON – In contrast to recurring ball-handling miscues throughout its first game, the Farmington girls basketball team executed three consecutive fast breaks to near perfection on Tuesday night.
The Knights put together an 8-0 scoring run before halftime against Jackson, showing plenty of promise for a resurgence after notching just seven wins last season.
Jackson regrouped from early foul trouble after the intermission to prevent open lanes to the basket, and limited Farmington to just nine second-half points.
Junior forward Kayla Keith registered 18 points with seven rebounds, and the visiting Indians forced 24 turnovers to claim a 56-41 victory after pulling away.
Cassidi Tomsu finished with 13 points and Mckinzie Scott added nine for Jackson (1-0), which benefited from a 14-0 run that carried deep into the third quarter.
Senior Kaitlyn Gilliam paced all players with 19 points for Farmington (0-1), including 10 during a strong first quarter. Briley Brackett chipped in 10 points off the bench.
The Knights made 10-of-12 free throws prior to halftime. The second quarter was tied six separate times before Ellaina Davis completed her second perfect trip to the line.
Freshman Alyson Tucker found Brackett breaking ahead for two subsequent layups. Gilliam pushed the tempo again with a long diagonal pass to Brittany Redmond, who saw Brackett cutting for a 32-24 lead.
Keith drained a jumper as time expired, however, and the Indians charged back by holding Farmington without a made field goal for nearly five minutes.
Scott drew a foul while finishing a drive along the left side. Jackson rebounded the ensuing missed free throw, and Scott buried a 3-pointer to create a 38-32 lead.
Gilliam broke the Farmington slump with a basket in the post and assisted Tucker on a give-and-go play to bring the Knights within one possession.
Jackson sophomore Randa Norman converted a transition layup near the close of the third for a 42-36 margin, but suffered an apparent right knee injury in the process and did not return.
Keith used an effective ball fake and strong attack to extend a 44-40 lead with a conventional 3-point play with 5:37 remaining.
That sequence sparked a closing 12-1 spurt. Jackson frequented the charity stripe down the stretch, and went 16-of-23 for the game.
Farmington suffered five turnovers within the opening 3:09 of action, but began to settle in following a technical foul against Jackson for an incorrect jersey number in the scorebook.
Gilliam drove the baseline for a layup, then turned at the right elbow to sink a jumper late in the first quarter. Keith answered with a step-back triple to give Jackson a 14-10 edge.
The Knights will travel to Rolla on Saturday for a boys and girls doubleheader before tipping off the Farmington Invitational against top seed Saxony Lutheran on Monday.
Jackson 14 12 16 14 – 56
Farmington 14 18 4 5 – 41
Jackson – Kayla Keith 18, Cassidi Tomsu 13, Mckinzie Scott 9, Autumn Reid 4, Randa Norman 4, Mallorie Maintz 4, Rachel Crites 2, Rylee Stafford 2. 3-point FG – Keith 3, Scott. (FT: 16-23)
Farmington – Kaitlyn Gilliam 19, Briley Brackett 10, Ellaina Davis 4, Alyson Tucker 4, Brittany Redmond 4. 3-point FG – None. (FT: 11-14)