One box left to check: Lady Jays two wins away from state title


    The Jefferson City Lady Jays are two wins away from the program's first state championship. (Rod Smith/KRCG13)

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. --- In December, the Jefferson City Lady Jays won the State Farm Holiday Invitational.

    In January, they won the Union Tournament.

    In February, and spilling into the first day of March, they won the district tournament.

    Now, there's only one tournament left.

    "We had goals coming into the season," Lady Jays coach Brad Conway said. "We wanted to win all the tournaments we were in, win districts, and make it the Final Four.

    "We've met them all but one."

    Two wins to go.

    The state tournament concludes this weekend in Springfield, starting with the Class 5 semifinal battle between the top-ranked Lady Jays (28-1) and unranked Parkway Central (23-6) at noon Friday at the Hammons Center.

    "The girls have done a really good job all year of taking it one game at a time," Conway said. "We never really looked past anybody and looked at any other team on our schedule.

    It's not a surprise the Lady Jays are here, or that they've won every tournament and 28 of 29 games. After all, they were supposed to be good.

    And they are.

    "Going in, and with the experience we had coming back, our expectations were really high," Conway said. "Now, 28-1? I didn't know we would be there, but I thought we could have a really nice run."

    And what a joyous run it's been. Girls just want to have fun? You bet.

    But so do 52 year-old coaches.

    "It's been one of the most enjoyable years I've had in my 29 years of coaching," Conway said. "They have different personalities and they're fun kids, and they have a good time on the court and off the court and in the locker room.

    "They're like sisters, they have each other's back and they're always willing to help each other out, whether it's on the court or off the court."

    Conway continued.

    "This team," he said, "will be one that I'll remember for many, many years. If they're not the best, they're one of the top two or three teams I've ever coached. They're talented, they're disciplined and they're very, very coachable.

    "It's a long season, but when you have a season like this, you never want it to end."

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