By FRANK CASH
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Briana Hawthorne has a nose for the basketball.
The John Wood Community College sophomore saved her best rebounding for the final minute of a 49-43 victory over Black Hawk East in the Town & Country Inn and Suites Classic Friday night at the Student Activity Center.
Hawthorne grabbed three offensive boards during that time to keep possessions alive. She followed that with two defensive rebounds to help the Lady Blazers climb above the .500 mark for the first time this season.
"I found the ball," said Hawthorne, who finished with eight rebounds to go with nine points. "It was teamwork too. It was knowing where everyone on my team was."
JWCC coach Norm Rodriguez wishes he'd see more consistent production from Hawthorne on the boards.
"We told Briana after the game that if she had played the entire game like she did the last couple of minutes, we would've won by a lot," Rodriguez said. "She goes through stretches when she gets a lot of rebounds and then doesn't get as many. It happened some last year and it's happened some this year."
The important thing was earning a win. It's the fourth victory in the last five games for JWCC, which will take a 5-4 win into today's game against eighth-ranked Southeastern (Iowa) at 3 p.m. Southeastern dropped to 10-2 with a 60-55 loss to Lincoln Friday night.
The Lady Blazers took its biggest lead when Cheyenne Hedrington's basket made the score 42-34 with 6:47 left in the game.
The Warriors (2-5) answered with a 9-2 run, cutting the lead to 44-43 when Lexis Lozano-Blanks score with 3:23 left.
Then came the momentum swinger for the Lady Blazers -- Hedrington's 3-pointer from the top of the key.
"That was huge," said JWCC sophomore Dakota Flesner, who scored a team-high 10 points. "That gave us confidence. We knew after that we could pull this out."
The Lady Blazers realized the win wasn't pretty. But after the growing pains they've been through this season, they'll take it.
"We're getting used to each other," Hawthorne said. "It's all about communication and knowing our roles. We're getting there. It's just taking a little longer than we would like."
Rodriguez was pleased with his team's character.
"We could've quit a couple of times but we didn't," Rodriguez said. "It's getting to the point where we're starting to get confidence in ourselves and in each other. We just need to continue to come out and play with the same intensity we played with on the defensive end tonight."