By RJ Walters / Daily News Sports Editor
As published in the Hillsdale Daily News on Jan. 28, 2009
It was the paramount of joy and frustration shaking hands at midcourt after 40 minutes of action at The Hive Tuesday night.
Jonesville head coach Tom Dunn had a smile on his face that expressed how it felt to finally end a six-game losing streak, while Hillsdale head coach Nick Langston was wearing a smile that said ‘What are you going to do? I guess this one just wasn’t in the cards’.
In a double-overtime contest that saw neither team take more than a six-point lead Dunn’s Comets capitalized off one last missed layup in a series of many by the Hornets (4-7) to escape with a 50-47 win in the newest chapter of the rivalry.
“Any time you play Hillsdale it’s like Michigan-Ohio State. You throw everything out and just go at it,” Dunn said.
Going at it inside all night long were Jonesville sophomore Shaila Rossman who scored 12 points and pulled down 17 rebounds and Hillsdale junior Jackie Anderson who scored a game-high 20 points to go with 10 rebounds and six steals.
But it was the Comets ability to limit Hillsdale guard Julie Shaffer to just three points, fresh off a 27-point outburst Friday, and a game-changing 3-pointer from junior Ashlende Teller in overtime that made the difference.
After two Amelia Games free throws and an Anderson layup gave Hillsdale a 43-40 lead with :50 left in overtime, the Hornets failed to take advantage of missed free throws on the other end and turned the ball over.
On the ensuing possession Jonesville tried to penetrate the lane, but ended up kicking the ball outside and swinging it to Teller who buried a triple from the left corner to tie things up with just 12 seconds left.
Teller scored 11 points and pulled down eight rebounds, but it was one of just two long-range shots Jonesville hit Tuesday.
“To come back here when we were behind there at the end and Ashlende hit that shot — our girls are hoping to turn this thing around and I hope this is a step in the right direction,” Dunn said. “The kids just battle. They know that they have got the talent, they just have to keep fighting every night. It’s been hard on them losing, but I just hope we’ve got this thing turned around.”
Langston said Teller should have never been in that position in the first place.
“It was a good play and she had an open shot, but we should have never turned the ball over to begin with. But that’s our lack of experience in those types of situations,” he said.
Another reason Langston believed his girls could have easily been on the other side of the outcome was because they lost by just three points despite shooting a paltry 19-of-70 on the night, just 27 percent as a team.
“That’s just one of those games where if you make the shots you win,” he said. “And they weren’t hard shots, Jackie missed three layups at the end of the game. But she’s the one who put us on her back and tried to take us home and she almost did.”
Shaffer was shut down with two Comets in her face every time she had an open look but as Dunn admitted, Anderson and several others nearly made up for Shaffer’s lack of scoring.
Anderson scored 14 points in the second half and overtimes, but missed five straight shots to begin the second half and had several close shots rattle out late. In Langston’s eyes it’s all part of the maturation process.
“She’s got to know her shot and she’s got to control herself, because when she does that she plays well,” he said. “She is a good player, but she can be a great player if we’re patient with her and she’s patient and listens to us and works at it.”
Dunn said he knows the final result may have been different if Anderson’s shots had been going down, but added he’d gladly take her on his team.
Anderson was also key in helping limit Comet senior Kelsey Aemisegger to just two points all night in the post.
But Brooke Nichols put in seven points and four assists and Megan Rowe scored 12 points and the Comets hung tough.
And despite the fact the game was ugly at times, it was a memorable one, a new wrinkle in the rivalry between the connecting towns.
“Five miles apart, we could play this game in a parking lot, it wouldn’t matter. Both (teams) played hard and it was just a fantastic atmosphere for high school basketball,” Dunn said