Trail Blazers go on attack in second half, earn home postseason game by beating Cougars


John Wood Community College's Alexis Pohlman goes up for a shot during the second half of Saturday's victory over Illinois Central College at the Student Activity Center. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — A forgettable first half was forgotten quickly.

It had to happen for the John Wood Community College women’s basketball team to play at home again.

Trailing by eight points at halftime Saturday after shooting just 22.6 percent from the field, the Trail Blazers went on a 17-2 run over the final 6 minutes, 30 seconds of the third quarter and rode the momentum to a 61-52 Mid-West Athletic Conference victory over Illinois Central College at the Student Activity Center.

“We had to keep our confidence, keep holding our heads up and keep shooting it,” JWCC sophomore guard Jada Dupree said.

More importantly, the Trail Blazers didn’t dwell on their early struggles.

“That first half was kind of rough, but that didn’t defeat us,” JWCC sophomore forward Alexis Pohlman said.

Neither did the Cougars, who have to return to Quincy on Wednesday for a quarterfinal matchup in the Region 24 postseason tournament. JWCC (16-12, 9-5 MWAC) earned the No. 4 seed and will face No. 5 ICC at 5:30 p.m. at the Student Activity Center.

“I’m holding back tears because I’m so proud,” second-year JWCC coach Lauren Bogle said.

It goes beyond the success the Trail Blazers have generated. Bogle is proud of the way they have accepted coaching and willingly make adjustments when things go awry, such as they did in the first half Saturday.

The Trail Blazers went 7 of 31 from the field in the first and 4 of 18 from 3-point range. In the second half, they went 12 of 37 from the field, but eight of those field goals came going to the rim and attacking led to fouls.

JWCC went 13 of 19 from the free-throw line in the second half after going 2 of 4 in the first half.

“We had to continue to attack and make them get out of that zone,” Bogle said. “Slow it down, calm ourselves down and stop living by the three. We realized that we had to get to the rim, which creates other opportunities.”

Dupree took charge. The speedy point guard scored 17 of her 19 points in the second half and created mismatches for her teammates by drawing defensive interest off dribble penetration. It allowed Pohlman to score 17 points, going 7 of 10 from the line, to go with 10 rebounds.

“I always tell Jada, ‘No one can stop you,’” Bogle said. “And no one can when she’s attacking.”

The chance to earn a home postseason game helped inspire that as well.

“It was motivation,” Dupree said. “We don’t have our best games at home sometimes, but this one was a good fight. We stayed together and we stayed strong.”

JWCC outscored ICC 21-9 in the third quarter and 41-24 overall in the second half.

“Our momentum took over,” Pohlman said. “Once we got those first couple of buckets, then we had the confidence back and kept attacking.”

Now they have a blueprint for how to win in the postseason, especially against a team they beat twice in the regular season.

“We have the home court advantage,” Dupree said. “I think we’re going to be locked in and know what to do.”

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