By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
Lafayette sophomore Jazlyn King was feeling confident early in Wednesday's game against Excelsior Springs.
She scored eight points in the first quarter and played tight on-ball defense from the first whistle.
But King's tenacity got her three personal fouls by the early second quarter.
"Jaz is a gamer," Lafayette girls' coach Brad Spinner said. "She's gonna give it her all, and sometimes, that gets her in (foul) trouble. And it did get her into foul trouble in the first half. She got over-aggressive with her boxout.
"I told her to stay away from the fourth (foul), and you're going to be in there for a long time."
Coach Spinner was right.
King didn't commit a single foul in the second half and scored a team-high 12 points as Lafayette (6-5) took down Excelsior Springs, 46-27, on Wednesday night at Lafayette High School.
After 21 first-quarter points, Lafayette mustered only four with King on the bench.
"(Jazlyn) is kind of a floor general," Spinner said. "We need her. She kind of gets us set up. When she goes out, we get a little hectic. The speed of the game gets a little hectic. She does a great job of being kind of a calming influence. She was able to stay away from a fourth foul, and that was huge for us to extend that lead going into the fourth."
King says she was cognizant of getting fouled again, but she didn't want to let off the gas all that much.
"You have to play a little scared (in foul trouble)," she said, "but much. I mean, you can't give up, because if you do, they're going to come back and roll. It was hard, but I've been in that situation before and it helped me understand what I need to do to calm down and control myself."
The Irish certainly controlled themselves on defense, forcing 14 turnovers and four charge calls. They also limited the Tigers (6-7) to just 12 second-half points and just 16 points over the final three quarters combined.
That, and Excelsior Spring's free throw struggles (10-of-27) helped Lafayette maintain a lead throughout.
Defense, Spinner says, has been the key in Lafayette's three-game winning streak, as the Irish came off of wins over Raytown South and Southeast KC last week at the Kearney Invitational.
"We're buying into the defensive side a little more," Spinner pointed out. "These last three games, we've done a great job of buying into the defensive game plan and executing it pretty well.
"For example, Katie Koelzer. We ask her to stay and help on drives and wall up. She got into foul trouble in the first half, but was able to turn around and do a fantastic job in the second half of staying straight up, affecting shots, getting rebounds and blocks."
Offensively in the second half, freshman Talicia Byrd had some strong baseline drives and scored four of her 10 points in the final quarter to help the Irish put on the finishing touches.
"One thing I don't have to teach Talicia is scoring," Spinner said. "She knows how to score the basketball. Taking the ball to the basket and pulling up and shooting those little floaters in the middle of the lane, she's a natural scorer."
Lafayette now has perhaps its toughest test of the season thus far with a Thursday night trip to Lawson (10-4).
"They have size and they're a winning program," Spinner said. "(Coach Lisa Glenn) does a great job with that group of girls. That program has a history of winning. It's always going to be a difficult task. But, if we can stay within ourselves and not get rushed and not get sped up, I think we have a chance and maybe coming out on the winning side."
Lafayette 46 - 21, 4, 10, 11
Excelsior Springs 27 - 11, 4, 7, 5
Lafayette scorers - Jazlyn King - 12, Talicia Byrd - 10, Ellie Wattenbarger - 8, Harlea Tarr - 5, Katie Koezler - 4, Darcy Bowlin - 2, Kendyal Bennett - 2.
Excelsior Springs scorers - Mallory Millsap - 12, Rylie Stottlemyre - 6, Lillian Mawby - 3, Mayce Barber - 3, Kyli Crowley - 2, Baylee O'Dell - 1
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