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Blue Jays edge Ridge

MINERAL RIDGE — The inexperienced Mineral Ridge Rams are improving every day. Without a senior on the roster, the Rams took Jackson-Milton to the limit on Thursday night in Weathersfield.

The Blue Jays walloped Ridge by 40 points earlier in the season. But, after Tiki Maglis popped outside and drilled a 3-pointer, the Rams trailed by just 5 points with 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

The veteran roster of Jackson-Milton, along with a leader returning from injury, was able to hang on for a 46-39 victory.

“I’m excited about the progression that we’ve made as a team,” Rams coach Amy Harrison said. “We’re super young. They’re starting to be able to read each other. We want to get better every game.”

The Blue Jays looked like they might run away with the lead but senior Kylie Wilson, who scored a game-high 15 points, went down hard after taking it strong to the hoop. Wilson had to leave the game early in the second quarter.

“I made the lay-up, but then I went falling back,” Wilson said. “I tried to save myself with my hand, but my wrist bent backwards. It still hurts. But, I iced it, and wrapped it up, and I was able to get back in there.”

The Rams took advantage of Wilson’s departure. Brooklyn Gelardi made a textbook jumper from long range. Ava Carkido had a couple of big blocked shots. Isabella Carkido nailed a jump shot and Jackson-Milton’s lead was cut to 21-13 at halftime.

With Wilson being tended to on the bench, the Blue Jays looked to Ava Darney to pick up the scoring slack. Darney (12 points) delivered with a bucket in the paint and by getting out ahead of the defense for another score.

“We beat them by 40 last time,” Darney said. “But, they didn’t take that to heart. They came back. They came out with a fight. They wanted to win. We were trying some new things and they threw a different defense at us. We have some stuff to work on, but I’m glad we were able to come away with the win.”

Olivia Booth (12 points) had a steal, a rebound, and a lay-in as the Rams edged closer. Freshman Ava Hulett (team-high 13 points) pulled down a board, and took it coast-to-coast for the score, but the Blue Jays had a couple more weapons.

Makayleigh Aliff swiped the ball away for the Jays. Senior Chelsea Williams (11 points) had a nice take and she made one from downtown. Carla Blancafort cut through the defense for a finger-roll and Jackson-Milton led 34-23 heading to the fourth.

Lilly Merolillo swished one, from behind the arc for the Rams, right before Wilson returned for the Jays. Wilson stole the ball, but was back on the floor again. This time, she got back up and completed an and-one.

“I knew they needed me to help,” Wilson said. “Ridge was pushing back. I was leading the scoring. I felt like we needed another senior leader on the floor to finish it.”

Darney had a put back, and Blancafort laid it in, before the Blue Jays (7-5) played keep away in the final seconds.

“It was a little sloppy tonight,” Jackson-Milton coach Pat Keney said. ” We were lucky to win the game. Mineral Ridge was doing the things they needed to do and we weren’t. Ava Darney stepped up big time for us. It was nice to have Kylie Wilson back for the end of the game because we would have been in trouble.”

sports@vindy.com

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