The Lady Cats started out strong, going inside to seniors Melissa Partin and Tracy Laws. Laws and senior Katie Dixon added 3-pointers as Bell built a 14-5 lead.
Two things changed in the second period: Jackson switched into a trapping zone press and inserted eighth-grader Jessica Bowling into the lineup.
Bowling and junior forward Amber Whitehead hit two 3-pointers each and both scored eight points in the second quarter. Meanwhile sophomore point guard Kourtney Tyra scored three transition baskets and added a pair of free throws as the Lady Generals took a 30-27 lead into the half.
“They changed defenses and that gave us a little bit of trouble,” Bell County coach Richard Gambrel said. “We didn't execute our offense like we should have and that kept us from scoring on about four straight possessions.”
In the third quarter, Jackson County used their fouls to keep the taller Bell post players from finishing inside, and the Lady Cats couldn't take advantage. They hit just 3-of-10 free throws in the period.
Whitehead hit two more from long range and Tyra continued to find open teammates in the half court and cause trouble in transition.
“That 5 is hard to contain, Tyra, she's a nice player,” Gambrel said. “She hit some shots and got them running. I think she's probably the best guard in the region.”
A basket from Ashley Bingham and a pair of free throws from Tyra pushed Jackson's lead to 50-38 by the end of the third.
Dixon scored 12 of her game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter as Bell got to within five. The Lady Generals missed four free throws late in the game, but twice were able grab offensive rebounds.
“We did a better job on (Tyra) in the fourth quarter, but we just didn't execute down the stretch,” said Gambrel. “We got them to miss some free throws, but couldn't come away with the rebounds . . . we had some opportunities to maybe comeback and steal the game, but we didn't take advantage of them.”
Jackson ended up hitting 7-of-11 from the line in the fourth quarter as they held on for the 69-63 win.
Tyra led the Lady Generals with 21 points, Whitehead added 19 and Bowling 12.
In addition to Dixon's 24, Laws and freshman Jamie Shepherd scored 10 each for the Lady Cats.
Performance from the free throw line was a big key in the game as the Lady Generals hit 18-of-25 overall, while Bell managed just 13-of-30.
“You can't shoot like that and expect to win many games,” Gambrel said.
“I thought our effort was good, they were trying to execute what we asked them to do. That falls back on us making sure that we have them prepared,” he added. “We could make excuses, but we just didn't get the job done, from the coaching staff all the way down.”
Bell County (8-10) returns to action on Friday when they host Knox Central. Jackson County hosts Cawood on Thursday.
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Jackson County 5 25 20 19 - 69
Bell County 14 13 11 25 - 63
JACKSON COUNTY (69): Kourtney Tyra 21, Amber Whitehead 19, Jessica Bowling 12, Ashley Bingham 8, Jamie Martin 7, Chelsea Cunagin 2.
BELL COUNTY (63): Katie Dixon 24, Tracy Laws 10, Jamie Shepherd 10, Melissa Partin 8, Kacy Denny 5, Jenna Lefevers 4, Mikaela Robbins 2.
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Jackson County 7 4 14 9 - 34
Bell County 9 6 8 15 - 38
JACKSON COUNTY (34): Megan Carpenter 8, Chelsea Cunagin 7, Cody Hill 6, Jessica Bowling 5, Jessica Lanigan 3, Tanecia Tillery 3, Jennifer Gray 2.
BELL COUNTY (38): Mikaela Robbins 15, Jamie Shepherd 8, Sonya Brock 4, Brianna Freeman 4, Ashley Robbins 2, Jessica Caldwell 2, Erin Enix 1.