The John Milledge Academy girls basketball team earned a big win over the visiting Westfield Lady Hornets in a Tuesday night battle between the top two teams in the GISA Region 4-AAA standings.
With the 52-38 victory, the Lady Trojans moved to 20-3 on the regular season with a 6-0 mark in region play. JMA head coach Tasha Gainous was pleased with her team’s effort and execution.
“It was a really big win for us,” Gainous said. “In practice, we worked on containing the ball and being patient on offense. They did both of those things perfectly tonight.”
The Lady Trojans are currently ranked second in the state, while Westfield sits at third. The region rivals lived up to their billing early on, treating the Trojan Center crowd to a highly competitive first quarter.
The home team started off hot from behind the arc as three different players hit three-pointers. JMA senior Olivia Rhodes got off to a solid start, adding five quick points in the first few minutes. However, Westfield held their own with several baskets in the paint. The visiting team lead 14-11 at the end of the opening period.
In the second quarter, Rhodes turned it up a notch. The senior combo guard went off for 10 points, hitting a series of contested jumpers and free throws. Rhodes finished the contest with a whopping 25 points, continuing her stellar senior season. She also showed off her range with three three-pointers on the night.
JMA began the second half up 27-19, and the crowd favorites continued to put on a show. A pair of flashy passes from Rhodes gave her squad some more momentum to start the third quarter.
Nevertheless, Westfield would not go down without a fight. As time expired in the third, the Lady Hornets converted a huge three-point play to keep themselves within striking distance. JMA led by a score of 38-30 heading into the fourth.
The Lady Trojans started the final period slowly, going scoreless for the first two minutes as their opponents slowly cut into the lead. Then, a single shot completely shifted the momentum of the game.
On the most important play of the night, JMA freshman point guard Maggie Prestwood stole a pass before firing a contested three-pointer. She hit the shot and was fouled on the play, electrifying the crowd with one of the most exciting sequences of the season. Prestwood completed the four-point play to put her team ahead by a score of 42-32.
There was no looking back for the Lady Trojans as they ended the game on a dominant 14-6 run. Prestwood iced the game with a pair of free throws, going three-for-three on the night. Coach Gainous was very proud of the freshman’s composure.
“Maggie is a great player,” Gainous said. “That play was huge for her confidence, and it was a big shift in momentum for the team. It got us going, and we didn’t look back after that.”
Like Rhodes, Prestwood made three three-pointers on the night. Senior teammate Cadence Bandows also added two of her own. In a dominant display from distance, JMA shot 50% as a team from beyond the arc.
The Lady Trojans play their last regular season game Friday at home against region opponent Bethlehem Christian Academy (4-8).