CALEDONIA – Heavy collisions left players from the West County and Jefferson girls basketball teams picking themselves up several times during a bruising battle on Thursday.
West County overcame 28 turnovers and withstood a steady comeback bid by the Blue Jays to emerge with a 55-50 victory in the semifinal round of the Valley Tournament.
Dori McRaven totaled 12 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists for the Lady Bulldogs (2-0), who will face top-seeded South Iron on the championship game on Saturday.
West County aggressively pulled down 20 offensive rebounds before halftime, and achieved its largest lead at 24-7 when junior Makenzie Simily converted a 3-point play off an inbounds pass.
A stagnant Jefferson offense received a sudden boost from Heidi Hearst with three 3-pointers before intermission, but she would leave with an injury after crashing to the floor in the third quarter.
Simily netted all 12 of her points off the bench in the first half, and crashed the glass to help the Lady Bulldogs earn second chances on four separate occasions.
Two interior passes to senior Allee Drennen enabled West County to carry a 34-23 advantage into the locker room, and Cheyenne Young opened the third quarter with a field goal from the post.
But ragged shooting and ball-handling mistakes endangered that cushion. Jefferson began the fourth quarter trailing 41-29, but eventually pulled to within one possession.
Laney Smith and Madison Fuller connected from long range, and Smith sank a baseline jumper to make it 49-47 with 1:50 to play after Jenna Courtois provided a pair of steals.
Senior forward Jordan Stevens finished with nine points for the Lady Bulldogs, however, and converted five consecutive free throws down the stretch as her squad held on.
Drennan tallied eight points with seven rebounds, and Ivy Meinershagen added six points for West County. Young gathered 11 rebounds.
Hearst paced the Blue Jays with 11 points despite missing most of the second half. Madison Fuller, Gracie Fish and Smith scored nine apiece.
McRaven opened the contest with a 3-pointer, and dished neatly to a cutting Simily as West County generated an initial 12-4 run.