Jackson-Milton faces Dalton in regional

The Jackson-Milton Blue Jays girls basketball team will make a return trip to regional tournament play, after defeating McDonald in the Division IV Mineral Ridge District final, 48-22. The Blue Jays will take on Norwayne District champion Dalton, tonight at Massillon Perry High School, 8 p.m.

“Last year was the first time in school history for us to make it to regionals,” Blue Jays coach Pat Keney said. “I think they (the players) had first-time jitters, because they’ve never been in that environment. (But) I think it’ll be a good experience for them this year.”

Jackson-Milton (22-3) face a Dalton team (20-6) that Keney says is a lot like his Blue Jays. Dalton is said to play hard and play good defense, and has similar-sized players to Jackson-Milton.

For Dalton to have success, however, it will have to overcome the Blue Jays’ stingy defense. Jackson-Milton has allowed 21, 38 and 22 points in three tournament games thus far.

“Defense wins championships,” Keney said. “We just went out (against McDonald) and played great. We took McDonald out of their rhythm, so it was a great win for us.”

Keney says that his teams have some ideas as far as scheming against Dalton’s offense, and for Dalton, it must find a way to put the ball in the hoop. Since it’s sectional semifinal win over No. 11-seed Lake Center Christian, 68-35, Dalton has scored just 51, 48 and 48 points in three games since.

Keney hopes that one unsung hero will step up like she did against McDonald. That player, junior Michaelina Terranova, led all scorers with 17 points against a Blue Devils defense that held Kennedy star Antonella LaMonica to 16 points in the district semifinal.

“Michaelina’s a great defensive player and she’s very unselfish on offense,” Keney explained. “This kid is unreal. She’s a great player and a go-getter. She’ll come to practice the next day after a great game and you’d never know it with her demeanor.”