Junior guard Finley Blackmore has helped the sixth-ranked Ankeny Centennial girls’ basketball team to a 4-5 record. She scored six points in the Jaguars’ 50-49 victory over visiting Ankeny on Tuesday.
Blackmore is averaging 5.4 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. She has made 11-of-34 attempts from 3-point range (32.4 percent).
Here is some inside info on Blackmore:
Congratulations on the win over Ankeny. How did it feel to finally end your team’s losing skid?
It felt good to be back on track to where we know we can be.
Your team had obviously played some great opponents in the previous five games. Did you have confidence that your squad could eventually turn things around?
We played some top-five teams and have grown stronger as a team each game. Our coaches have worked really hard as well, and it paid off on Tuesday.
You hit two big 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to put your team ahead. Was it a relief to see some shots finally fall after the recent shooting struggles that your team has had?
Yes, hitting those shots was huge for us! Tillie (Smith), Ava (Martin) and I see those shots fall all the time in practice, so to see them fall during those key parts of the game was a boost for sure.
Your squad lost one of its leaders, Jaeden Pratt, when she fouled out with 3 minutes 51 seconds left. What was the key to holding onto your lead with Jaeden on the bench?
Jaeden is a huge factor when she is in, so when she fouled out with that much time left it was key for us all to step up. But, we all knew what to do to not let the pressure get to us. Lizzie (Beam) came off the bench and brought huge energy. I was so proud of her with everything she has brought to this team, especially that night.
Your team held Ankeny’s leading scorer, Jayla Williams, to nine points–about half her average. Was she the primary focus of your defensive game plan, and what did you do to contain her?
Not only is Jayla a skilled player but a great overall athlete, yet Tillie did a great job guarding her. Ankeny has several other key players that we also made sure to focus on.
Do you think the Jag-Hawk games have become more intense since Ankeny has now split the two meetings with your team in the previous two seasons, making it more of a rivalry?
Yes, for sure. Ankeny is a great team, and they have proven that to us before. It’s a battle whenever you step on the court. We had girls flying all over the floor, which shows how important this game was to us.
Your team has already played most of the top squads in Class 5A, including No. 1 Johnston. Do you think there’s a pretty big gap between the Dragons and the other top teams?
Johnston is an elite team. They have a bunch of skilled and athletic kids who just know how to play together.
What will it take to knock off Johnston?
They’re looking to be an unbeatable team. But, we play in the CIML, so anything can happen.
Goals for the rest of the season?
We want to keep growing as a team. Every single player works extremely hard at practice, and we know that it will start to consistently translate to the game.
Do you think your team can get back to Wells Fargo Arena?
Absolutely! The key for us will be to confidently play together as a team.
Are you planning to play basketball in college, and have you looked at any schools?
Yes, I will be playing basketball in college. I am blessed to have two offers from Division ll schools: Western Colorado and Wayne State College. I’ve had the opportunity to get to know some great coaches throughout the recruiting process.
What are you going to study?
I want to major in either Pre-Med or Nursing.