VINCENT - Ask a coach in any sport, and they'll tell you that the perfect season is one of the most difficult achievements in athletics.
Through 21 games the Jackson Ironladies had the perfect season.
And in one fateful evening in Vincent, it came to a screeching halt at the hands of the Warren Lady Warriors, who for the second straight year ruined Jackson's efforts at perfection with a 59-56 win at Warren High School Saturday evening.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Pierson
Warren's Mackenzie Ullman (5) battles Jackson's Madison Ridout (13) for a loose ball during the first quarter of a girls' basketball game in Vincent Saturday evening. Warren beat Jackson 59-56.
"When you're playing for a league title, you have an undefeated team coming on your floor, ranked I think fifth in the state, it's not going to be an easy win," said Warren girls' basketball coach Amy Colgrove.
It may not have come easily as the Lady Warriors saw a 12-point lead with 6:31 to play in the contest dwindle all the way down to just a single point, but when plays had to be made the Warren girls found the way.
"It's pretty huge right now," said an ecstatic Warren senior Emma Ryan, who posted 18 points and 11 rebounds in the contest. "It's a really good turning point in our season."
Warren 59, Jackson 56
Jackson 16 9 9 22 - 56
Warren 17 11 12 19 - 59
Whitney Wills 2-7 2-4 6; Madison Ridout 4-9 14-16 22; Kerrigan Hoover 1-5 0-0 2; Kari Jenkins 2-9 2-4 7; Lydia Poe 7-16 3-5 17; Annie Speakman 0-1 0-0 0; Lexi Humphreys 0-1 0-0 0; Kacee Jenkins 1-4 0-0 2; Jackie Cyrus 0-1 0-0 0. Team 17-53 21-29 56. 3pt goals 1 (Kari Jenkins 1).
Mackenzie Brooks 0-1 0-0 0; Mackenzie Ullman 3-10 0-3 6; Amy Fleming 1-1 0-0 2; Jordanna Rauch 3-9 5-6 11; Emma Ryan 7-11 3-4 18; Kendra Lynch 0-1 0-0 0; Victoria Buzzard 5-8 7-9 17; Josey Riffle 1-3 0-0 2; Adrienne Lang 1-1 1-4 3; Taylor Foy 0-0 0-0 0. Team 21-45 16-26 59. 3pt goals 1 (Rauch 1).
Jackson: Shooting 17-53 (32 percent); 3pt shooting 1-13 (8 percent); Rebounds 21 (Poe 10, kari Jenkins 6); Assists 7 (Ridout 3); Steals 10 (Wills 4, Ridout 3); Turnovers 21; Blocks 1; Total fouls 25
Warren: Shooting 21-45 (47 percent); 3pt shooting 1-6 (17 percent); Rebounds 30 (Ryan 11, Fleming 6, Ullman 5); Assists 8 (Riffle 4, Rauch 2); Steals 8 (Riffle 4); Turnovers 25; Blocks 3; Total fouls 25
JV score: Warren 63, Jackson 18
Jackson: Carey Farley 4; Abby Waugh 4; Lauren Parks 6; Celese Tiltner 2; Kaitlyn Trace 2
Warren: Kaylee Higgins 12; Kayla Bartmess 2; Kelsey Bartmess 3; Autumn Roddy 6; Kaitlyn Coffman 3; Sarah Proctor 6; Taylor Foy 4; Audrey Bowe 9; Kelsey Cheuvront 2; Kylee Lynch 2; Adrienne Lang 4; Kate Ryan 8
Leading by just three points as the clock got under 10 seconds in regulation, the Lady Warriors displayed a determined tenacity to win, as Ryan blocked Jackson standout Madison Ridout's attempt at a three-pointer and then collected the rebound while being fouled.
Going to the stripe with 6.5 seconds to play, Ryan promptly sunk both free throws to clinch the game. All told, Warren was 5-for-6 from the stripe in the final 36 seconds, with the one "miss" a made toss that was cancelled out by a lane violation.
"We had composure. We knew they were going to foul us, so we knew we had to be strong with the ball," Ryan said.
The Lady Warriors needed every free throw they could make down the stretch, because the Ironladies had no intentions of letting their chance at the perfect season slip away.
After being down 12, the Ironladies turned to Ridout and fellow junior Lydia Poe to turn the game around, and that's just what they did.
Over the course of the game's final 6:31 Ridout and Poe combined to account for 20 of Jackson's last 22 points, with the only bucket not scored by one of the two a jumper by Kerrigan Hoover as time expired.
Ridout and Poe combined to score 10 straight points to cut the deficit from 46-34 following a Lady Warrior basket by Victoria Buzzard, who had 17 points off the bench, to just 46-44.
"I told them there's a ton of time left and we're only down 12. The way we can get hot and shoot it, that's only four possessions," said Jackson girls' basketball coach Matt Walburn.
One of the premiere teams in the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League this season, the Ironladies took the lead just four seconds into Saturday's contest on a bucket by Ridout, who had a game high 22 points.
Jackson would hold the lead for the next seven minutes, as it wasn't until Ryan hit a three-pointer off an assist from Jordanna Rauch with 1:05 in the first quarter that the Lady Warriors took the advantage.
Warren relinquished the lead just once more, which came with 3:55 to play in the third quarter when Ridout again hit a bucket to give the Ironladies a 30-28 advantage.
Buzzard answered at the other end for the Lady Warriors, as Warren held a 22-2 advantage in scoring off the bench.
"Quality minutes from our bench," Colgrove praised. "We're getting great minutes from everyone that steps on the floor."
Following Buzzard's bucket, Rauch would connect on a pair of free throws with 3:06 to play in the third and the Lady Warriors never trailed again, pushing the lead to six after three stanzas of play.
Three straight buckets from Buzzard to open the fourth had the Lady Warriors primed to run away with the game, but Jackson had other ideas.
"I'm proud of the kids. We fought and fought. We knew it wouldn't be easy coming in here (Saturday) night," Walburn said.
Running off 10 straight points to make it a one-possession game, the Ironladies saw the Lady Warriors take command.
Ryan's bucket off an assist from Amy Fleming pushed the margin back out to four points, and Rauch's bucket with 2:08 in regulation pushed it to five, 52-47.
Jackson would cut the lead to just one, 54-53, on a pair of free throws from Ridout with 39.9 seconds in regulation only to watch Warren answer shot for shot.
Ridout's 1-of-2 effort at the free throw line made the score 56-54, and after making the first of two free throws at the other end of the court, Ryan saw her second made attempt, which would have iced the game, cancelled by a lane violation with 14.3 seconds to play.
Pushing the ball upcourt, Jackson saw its last hope at perfection vanish into Ryan's outstretched arm.
Jackson ends its season at 21-1, while Warren improved to 12-8 with one game remaining on the schedule.
A game with Athens postponed due to inclement weather will not be made up.