SELLERSBURG — Two years ago Jaclyn Emly and Savannah Kirchgessner were freshmen on a Silver Creek team that lost by 51 points to Jeffersonville.
“They really beat us bad, it was really embarrassing,” Emly said.
Friday night, Emly, Kirchgessner & Co. got their revenge as the Class 3A No. 7 Dragons knocked off the 4A No. 8 Red Devils 65-60 in an early-season battle of unbeatens.
Junior transfer Alana Striverson, who wasn’t on the team two years ago, tallied a team-high 19 points while Emly added 15. Sophomore Kynidi Striverson totaled 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists while Kirchgessner contributed 11 points for Silver Creek (5-0), which rallied from a 12-point first-half deficit to end a seven-game losing streak to Jeff.
“They believed,” Silver Creek coach Scott Schoen, who last beat the Red Devils 56-41 on Nov. 18, 2011, said of his team. “We said before, big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games. And I thought we had big-time players stepping up, and not just one kid … each person kind of did their little spell. And we just chipped away, chipped away, chipped away.”
The Red Devils (5-1) had won the previous seven meetings by an average of 20.1 points per game. That number was ballooned by Jeff’s 61-10 win in Sellersburg in 2017.
“They were freshmen then,” Schoen said. “They didn’t play like that tonight, they played like juniors, and they played like kids that wanted to win.”
Early on, though, it looked like Jeff was on the way to its eighth consecutive victory in the series.
The Red Devils led 15-7 at the end of the first quarter thanks to seven points, four rebounds and three assists from senior Kiersten Poor and a pair of 3’s from junior Alexis Gibson, who scored a game-high 24 points on the strength of 6 of 8 shooting from 3-point range.
Those two stayed hot early in the second — Gibson with her shooting and Poor with her passing — as Jeff’s lead grew to 12 twice. The final time was after Gibson drilled a corner 3 off a cross-court pass from Poor. But then Creek started rising, and hitting.
The Dragons, who shot 1-for-12 in the first quarter, cut it to three twice before trailing by five, 35-30, at halftime.
Jeff jumped out early in the third quarter, too. Gibson’s fourth 3 put the Devils up 42-32 with 6:46 to play in the period.
Down, but not out, Silver Creek outscored Jeff 15-3 over the remainder of the quarter. Kirchgessner started the surge with a pair of free throws before Alana Striverson drilled a 3 then Emly hit a jumper. Gibson interrupted the run with her fifth 3, but that did little to slow down the Dragons.
“We started hitting a little more and then everybody believed,” Emly said. “I felt like in the beginning we were a little iffy like, ‘I don’t know if we’re going to win.’ But once we started hitting shots and we believed in ourselves we were like, 'We can win, we have the chance, and we will win.' And that’s what happened.”
Alana Striverson scored on a scoop in the lane, then reserve Sydney Sierota hit her only shot of the game — a 3-pointer — with 59 seconds left to get Creek within one. That set the stage for Kynidi Striverson’s buzzer-beating 3 at the end of the quarter that gave the Dragons their first lead, 47-45.
Kirchgessner continued the surge with a basket 18 seconds into the fourth before Jeff senior standout Nan Garcia scored inside. But Emly drilled a 3 on the other end to push the Creek lead to five.
Garcia’s old-fashioned three-point play pulled the Devils within 54-52 with 5:35 to play before Alana Striverson hit 1 of 2 free throws on the other end. Then, after a more than 2-minute scoreless stretch, Kirchgessner buried a 3. Gibson answered on the other end with her sixth 3, but Emme Roney responded with a putback to put Creek up 60-55 with 1:58 to play.
“I think that was the biggest part of the game,” Jeff coach Mike Warren said. “We gave up three or four second-chance points in the fourth quarter and we just had kids standing around, waiting for something to happen and Silver Creek made the plays to win the game.”
After Gibson missed two free throws Alana Striverson's driving layup with 1:20 left all but clinched it for Creek.
"This is what it’s about, getting a big-time win over a blue-chip program. It’s great for our program," Schoen said. "We want to go 1-0 every time we play, but we knew Jeff, they’re a great team. And we talked about it. If we really want to be a team — our aspirations are to compete at the highest level — then we have to compete with teams like this. And we’ve not always done that, and tonight we did."
Poor added 14 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for the Red Devils while Garcia finished with 13 points on 6 of 11 shooting and 12 rebounds.
“The better team won,” Warren said. “They just took us to the woodshed in the second half and they just beat us.
"This was their Super Bowl. For us, we want to win every game, but this is not going to define who we are, or our season in any way, shape or form. But they had some kids step up and make shots and hit big shots and be willing to take big shots and make’em."
The Red Devils will try to get back on track at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night, when they play at Hoosier Hills Conference-rival Bedford North Lawrence.
The Dragons, meanwhile, next play at Mid-Southern Conference-rival North Harrison at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night.