Coming into Saturday’s WIAA Division 2 regional final game with Edgerton, Jefferson’s Ayianna Johnson had made one 3-point basket all season.
She picked the perfect spot to hit No. 2.
Johnson banked in a 3-pointer with 3:01 to play that broke a 30-30 tie and lifted the host Eagles to a 36-32 win.
Top-seeded Jefferson (19-2) will learn its sectional assignment when teams are reseeded. Also in the Eagles’ pod are fellow regional champs Wilmot, McFarland and Reedsburg.
Ainsley Howard had 14 points and made three free throws over the final 42 seconds for Jefferson.
The Eagles played all but the first 10 seconds of the first half without Johnson—who sprained her ankle before returning to start the second half. Howard said Johnson’s return was pivotal.
“She definitely has a huge impact out there,” Howard said of the 6-foot-2 Johnson. “She can do so many things for us, and we rely on her as much as she relies on us.”
Edgerton (17-5) led 15-10 at halftime and seemed to be in control with Johnson sitting on the bench with ice on her ankle. Jefferson’s offense was non-existent in the first half.
Unfortunately for the Crimson Tide, Johnson got taped up at half, put an ankle wrap on and was able to start the second half, where she scored nine points. She finished with 11.
Edgerton pushed its lead to seven at 25-18 on Abby Blum’s 3-pointer with 12:40 left, but Jefferson answered with a 12-0 run to take the lead for good. Howard’s basket tied the game at 27-27 with 4:28 to play, and Johnson followed with her 3 from the right corner to make it 30-27.
“I told the girls that AJ had never sprained her ankle before, that she’d be fine, and that we had to keep fighting,” Jefferson coach Mark Peterson said. “We’ve played without her before when she’s got in foul trouble, so it was a matter of regrouping and continuing to battle.
“We found a way at the end. We hit some shots and made some big stops defensively. We’ve had to battle all year long, and Edgerton is one hell of a team, so I don’t care what the score was. All I know is that we found a way.”
Leading 35-32, Aidyn Messmann made one free throw with seven seconds left for the final margin.
Carly Rebman had 11 points to lead Edgerton.
“I give them a lot of credit,” Edgerton coach Chris Jenny said of Jefferson. “They’re long and experienced with a lot of seniors on that roster that have been through the grind.
“I thought we got some good looks, we just didn’t knock them down. Usually, we’re a little bit more on the attack, but tonight we had to settle a little bit more.
“Playoff basketball is all about having that one moment during the game, and they happened to have that moment tonight when Johnson made that 3.”
JEFFERSON 36, EDGERTON 32
Edgerton (32)—Rebman 5-1-11; Blum 3-0-8; Gunderson 2-1-6; Fox 1-2-4; Rusch 1-0-3. Totals: 12-4-32
Jefferson (36)—Messmann 3-1-7; Howard 4-4-14; Johnson 5-0-11; Peterson 1-0-2; Dearborn 0-1-1. Totals: 13-6-36
Edgerton 15 17—32
Jefferson 10 26—36
3-point goals—Edgerton 4 (Blum 2, Gunderson, Rusch), Jefferson 4 (Howard 3, Johnson). Free throws missed—Edgerton 2, Jefferson 5. Total fouls—Edgerton 14, Jefferson 10