With a sudden burst of speed, Southeast senior Jamillah Bonner spun around the left side of a Junction City player, tipped the ball away for the steal and raced up the basketball court.
It was a move Bonner has made countless times in four seasons at Southeast. Yet it was no less impressive Thursday night, especially because it came late in the fourth quarter of host Southeast's 56-43 victory over visiting Junction City.
The Class 6A sub-state semifinal win was Southeast's first in 10 seasons. The Buffaloes play at Washburn Rural on Saturday with a chance to advance to the 6A tournament for the first time since 1988.
"Our defense just clicked," said Bonner of the Buffaloes' fourth quarter. "We knew we needed to win. This is our goal, it's been our goal, we needed to step up."
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Southeast has the pieces of a successful team. There's Bonner, with her quick hands and ability to score seemingly at will as she blows past defenses to the basket.
She finished with 13 points, four rebounds, five steals and a blocked shot.
Then there's junior Joyea Marshall, who had a team-high 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting, seven rebounds and four steals. Kerisha Broadus added four steals, while Brittany Maxwell, a presence inside, added 12 points and seven rebounds.
Southeast rarely has been able to get all those athletes playing well at the same time. Lapses have hurt the Buffaloes.
"A lot of times we get complacent and we relax," Southeast coach LaToya Randle said. "Not at any point in the postseason can you relax in a game.
"That's been our issue all year. All seven losses, we've had quarters where we've had letdowns, where we've let teams back in the game or even let them go up by double digits because we were being complacent."
It happened against Junction City. One minute, 30 seconds into the game, Southeast committed two fouls, had a shot blocked and missed a fastbreak basket.
With Southeast leading 18-9 after the first quarter, Junction City held Southeast to five second-quarter points and held a 24-23 lead at the half.
"I think, at the beginning, we was getting them, and then it got into our heads, 'We've got this game,' " Bonner said. "We had to recuperate and get our heads together. Defense was our goal."
Southeast was superior defensively, forcing 13 first-half turnovers and 29 on the game.
"We were applying ball pressure like we were talking about in practice," Randle said. "Arm length away from your man, make sure we're jumping to the middle of the floor so we have the opportunity to help on the weak side of the floor and not let them penetrate."
Too often the Buffaloes made poor offensive decisions. In the third quarter, they forced 11 turnovers but only led by six.
Finally, in the fourth period, Southeast combined all its strengths and pulled away.
Jamisha Bonner drove inside, Marshall got a steal off the Buffaloes' press and scored on the fastbreak. Then, after a Junction City miss, Marshall hit a jumper.
That turned into an 11-0 Southeast run as the Buffaloes' forced four turnovers during a three-minute span.
"We were supposed to bring it (defensively) in the third quarter, but we didn't come out strong," Jamillah Bonner said. "After the third quarter, we came together as a group and said, 'That's it, no more. D-up, slide your feet, no more fouls.' "
Junction City (4-17) 9 15 9 10—43 Southeast (14-7) 18 5 16 17—56
JUNCTION CITY: Gjerstad 0 1-4 1, Kamm 0 2-2 2, Pender 1 2-4 4, Johnson 2 1-2 5, Witt 3 0-0 6, Wilkerson 2 0-0 5, Satterlee 5 8-8 20. Totals 13 (3) 14-21 43.
SOUTHEAST: Marshall 7 1-6 15, Thompson 1 0-0 2, Maxwell 4 4-4 12, Broadus 1 3-5 5, Jamillah Bonner 5 3-7 13, Jamisha Bonner 4 1-4 9. Totals 22 12-26 56.