By Tom Robinson
OXON HILL, Md. – Freedom 17 Red scored the first 12 points of the second half and made that streak stand up for a 56-53 victory over JB Hoops Bucci Monday afternoon to decide Pool G at the USJN 17U Girls Nationals.
Both teams were 4-0 going into the last game of round-robin play in the pool in the event at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center.
Freedom, a New Jersey team featuring three Division I committed players and another expected to commit, used the win to reach Tuesday’s Platinum Championship bracket.
Only one-third of the teams entered get to participate in the bracket competition.
JB Hoops Bucci made it to bracket play for the third straight year and will be part of the Platinum Consolation bracket, made up of second-place finishers from four pools.
After JB Hoops rallied from five down to lead 30-24 at halftime, Freedom took a pair of eight-point leads.
“I thought the first four minutes of each half kind of hurt us,” said coach John Bucci, whose team fell behind, 9-3, to begin the game. “Usually, we have one bad four-minute stretch. Today, we had two.
“I thought our kids competed right to the end, which is our number-one thing.”
The last of the eight-point deficits was at 45-37 with 5 ½ minutes left.
Moriah Murray and Rachael Rose then hit consecutive 3-pointers to get JB Hoops back in the game.
JB Hoops had one last comeback left.
Trailing by seven in the final two minutes, it got within 54-53 on Lauren Charlton’s 3-pointer from the top of the key with 15 seconds left.
Down three on the final possession, JB Hoops could not get the ball to the rim, struggling to get off the game’s final shot.
Rose finished with 19 points, including 15 in the last 9:16. She was 7-for-10 from the floor, including 2-for-3 on 3-pointers.
It was a Rose 3-pointer that began the JB Hoops second-half scoring after the team had missed its first eight shots.
Charlton had 14 points in the first 9:18 – she opened the game 4-for-4 with three 3-pointers and a three-point play – and finished with 17.
Murray made a pair of 3-pointers.
Lindsey Welsh dished out five assists and Nya Johnson grabbed five rebounds.
JB Hoops played both Monday games without Taylor Huyck because of an ankle injury and went without Welsh for a long stretch of the loss when an injury made her temporarily unavailable.
“We’ll find a way to get it done,” Bucci said.
MORE TO COME: Return to the JB Hoops Blog for more details from this game and additional reporting on both JB Hoops teams at USJN Nationals.