Fans came out Tuesday night to see the Jacksonville Maidens basketball team get a win over Whitehouse and earn at least a share of the District 17-4A championship, and the Maidens did not disappoint.

Sarah Brand knocked down back-to-back three-point baskets and made a tough layup under the basket to end the third period, which gave Jacksonville a 31-27 lead over the Whitehouse Lady Wildcats. The momentum created by Brand carried the Maidens (23-8, 13-2) through the fourth quarter of play and helped them take a 40-33 win over the Lady Wildcats (8-6, 16-14) at Jacksonville Gymnasium.

Public address announcer David Buckley put the icing on the cake moments after the game ended with the announcement that the Nacogdoches Lady Dragons defeated the Pine Tree Lady Pirates, giving Jacksonville sole possession of the district championship.

“When you look at our kids, you can tell that that news just made our evening, knowing Nacogdoches beat Pine Tree,” Jacksonville head coach Tony Harris said as he watched his team celebrate at mid-court. “What that does for these kids, I hope, is give them a boost of confidence in who they are.”

The Maidens were confident throughout their game with the Lady Wildcats. Jacksonville and Whitehouse went toe-to-toe for four quarters before Tiandra Smith and Mekyla Tilley made three free-throws late in the fourth quarter to seal the win for the Maidens.

Jacksonville trailed Whitehouse 15-9 with 5:48 to play in the second quarter, but battled back to take a 21-19 lead into halftime. The Maidens found themselves down 27-23 with 2:59 to play in the third quarter, but proved their resiliency once again, taking a 31-27 lead at the end of the period behind the play of Brand.

Brand scored nine points in the game, with eight of those coming in the second half, but she also accounted for multiple assists and provided a spark for her team off the bench.

“She did a great job coming off the bench,” Harris said. “She gave us a spark, she dribble penetrated, made some great dishes and passes for open buckets and those two threes she hit ... were insurmountable.”

Jacksonville took the lead heading into the final quarter and never looked back. The Maidens and Lady Wildcats had swapped leads throughout the contest, but the energy in the gymnasium and Jacksonville’s desire to win carried the Maidens to victory.

Jacksonville entered its game with Whitehouse knowing, win or lose, it would live to play another day in the post-season. The Maidens had at least a share of the district championship with a win and could finish no worse than second in district with a loss. Pine Tree’s loss to Nacogdoches gave them three district losses and Jacksonville’s win over Whitehouse left the Maidens with two loses, which allowed them to claim the district championship.

Jacksonville plays in the Regional Tournament in Huntsville Feb. 24-25 with game opponents and times to be announced.

Jacksonville 44, Whitehouse 41 (JV)

The Jacksonville Maidens junior varsity basketball team closed out its season with a 44-41 overtime win over the Whitehouse Lady Wildcats at Jacksonville Gymnasium Tuesday night.

Jacksonville 40, Whitehouse 33

Whitehouse 10 9 8 6 — 33

Jacksonville 7 13 11 9 — 40

WHITEHOUSE — Kayla Mason 14, Brittany Toole 6, Jessica Wendte 5, Casie Taylor 5, Erika Taylor 2, Princess Verdan 1. Three-point goals: (Mason, Wendte). Free-throws: 9-23.

JACKSONVILLE — Lakesia Johnson 10, Sarah Brand 9, Mekyla Tilley 7, Amber Tilley 4, Romanita Whitaker 4, Whitney Johnson 3, Tiandra Smith 3. Three-point goals: (Brand 2). Free-throws: 9-18.

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