Emotional Ironladies top Blue Angels

By Paul Boggs - pboggs@civitasmedia.com

JACKSON, Ohio — No doubt, against the visiting Blue Angels on Saturday night, the Jackson Ironladies had an angel watching over them.

And, in playing for ‘Coop’, and by outscoring Gallia Academy 19-10 in the middle two quarters, the Ironladies defeated the Blue Angels 36-29 in the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League girls basketball finale.

With the win, the Ironladies sweep the season series against Gallia Academy, as Saturday night’s contest marked the final league meeting between the two charter SEOAL members.

Gallia Academy, already playing a full-time Ohio Valley Conference schedule, will exclusively compete in the OVC — beginning next season and beyond.

The loss ended the Blue Angels’ regular season at 3-19, as they went winless in the SEOAL at 0-6.

The Ironladies improved to 11-10, as they travel to Fairland — which GAHS upset 56-51 last Monday night — for their regular-season finale on Monday (Feb. 8).

On Saturday night, Gallia Academy entered an absolutely emotional atmosphere at Jackson High School, as the Ironlady program is mourning the tragic death of its seventh-grade girls basketball and recently hired head varsity softball coach.

Emileigh Cooper, who was also an assistant coach for the University of Rio Grande volleyball team, passed away Friday night as the result of an automobile accident on U.S. Route 35 Friday afternoon just west of Jackson.

This was Cooper’s first season coaching in the Ironlady girls basketball program — and was to be her first season this spring coaching the Ironladies in softball.

The Ironladies also observed Senior Night Saturday night for their two seniors — Lauren Parks and Abby Waugh.

Gallia Academy led 9-6 after the first quarter, but Jackson took a 12-11 lead when Rebekah Green scored on a layup at the 5:38 mark of the second stanza.

The Blue Angels’ only points of that quarter came on a basket by Adrienne Jenkins at the outset.

That 12-11 score remained at halftime, as Green split two free throws for Jackson — before an Amelia Davis three-pointer prior to Green’s layup.

In the third quarter, Jalea Caldwell scored to give Gallia Academy the lead again (13-12), but another Green goal followed by back-to-back three-pointers by Davis and Parks put the Ironladies ahead 20-13.

Green gave the Ironladies a 22-17 lead with 3:05 to play in the third period, as Parks popped another trey with five seconds left, pushing the advantage to 25-19.

A Jenkins three-pointer trimmed the Blue Angel deficit in half (25-22) at the 5:33 mark, but Jackson came back with a 7-2 run, as Green scored five points on two field goals and a free throw.

Jordan Walker’s rebound basket got Gallia Academy to within five (34-29) with 1:46 left, but that would be as close as the Blue Angels could get.

Waugh rebounded a missed free throw by Green with 64 seconds to play, as Parks split a pair of free throws at the 44-second mark.

On its final possession, Gallia Academy committed an unforced turnover.

Jenkins led the Blue Angels with 13 points on six field goals, as Walker scored seven on three second-half field goals.

Jenkins with a field goal, Caldwell with a field goal, Hunter Copley with a deuce, and Carley Shriver with the team’s only other three-pointer accounted for Gallia Academy’s nine first-quarter points.

Jenkins had two field goals in the third quarter and Walker one, while Jenkins and Walker each scored five points in the final period.

Walker was 1-of-2 at the line in the fourth — for the Blue and White’s only free throws of the entire game.

Gallia Academy did hold a 13-12 total field goals advantage, but Jackson made four threes to the Blue Angels’ two.

The Ironladies shot 13 free throws and made eight, offsetting a 12-of-40 performance from the field.

Green poured in 17 of the Ironladies’ 36 points, accounting for six field goals and 5-of-8 free throws.

She scored four points in the first quarter, three in the second, four in the third, and finally six in the last.

Davis added a pair of fourth-quarter foul shots for eight points, while Parks posted seven and Waugh (first quarter) and Emily Brown (fourth quarter) a field goal apiece.

Green grabbed 11 rebounds for a double-double, while Waugh wound up with seven.

The Blue Angels opened Division II sectional tournament play on Monday night at Logan, as they were the 9th-seeded squad facing the 8th-seeded Athens Bulldogs.

Tipoff time was set for 7 p.m. inside Logan’s Jim Myers Gymnasium, as the winner returns to action on Wednesday night against top-seeded Warren.

Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106

By Paul Boggs