The streak is over.
Bluejacket’s girls broke a 44-game losing streak Thursday afternoon when they defeated the Grove JV 44-43 in a Girls’ Blue game in the 65th annual Northeastern A&M High School Basketball Tournament.
A bucket from inside by Lauren Ayres with 36.3 seconds left provided the margin of difference for the Lady Chieftains.
“They didn’t buckle under the pressure,” Bluejacket coach Michael Schnatz said. “We got some great senior leadership from Cheyenne Hall and Lauren Ayres.”
It was a bad first day for returning champions, though.
Welch, ranked 14th in Class A, ambushed 4A No. 10 Roland 45-43 in a Boys’ Round Robin game that has to go down as one of the biggest upsets in the tournament in the past couple of years.
Roland won the Boys’ Gold bracket last year and has pocketed five NEO crowns in the decade of the 2000s.
Afton’s girls suffered a 65-57 loss to the Roland JV. The Lady Eagles had won the Girls’ Silver crown.
However, Springfield (Mo.) Central’s boys and the Grove girls opened with wins.
Central — which carted off the Boys’ Blue title in 2009 — decked Fayetteville (Ark.) Christian 54-45 in Boys’ Gold play.
Grove, the defending Girls’ Gold champ, beat Guthrie 44-37 in the Girls’ Round Robin bracket.
A free throw by Cheyanne Hall with 25.2 seconds left in regulation created a 39-39 deadlock.
Then in overtime, Bluejacket grabbed a 42-39 lead on a bucket by Ayres and a free throw by Jacque Anderson.
However, two free throws by Katelin Threet pulled the Lady Runners back to within a point, then a short jumper by Alyssa Ortner staked Grove to a 43-42 lead with 61 seconds remaining.
Ayres was fouled by Tiffknee Miller when she scored the go-ahead bucket, leaving Bluejacket with a 44-43 advantage — and Grove with only three players on the floor for the final half-minute of play.
“These kids work their rears off,” Schnatz said. “To get it against a program like Grove’s excites the girls.”
Ironically, Grove JV coach Jeremy Collins is a Bluejacket grad and his first job in the profession was at his alma mater.