Girls Basketball: Joliet Central motors past Plainfield SouthJoliet Central's #45 LaSoji Ward drives to the basket in front of Plainfield South's #55 Amanda Neal held at home and Joliet won 52-26 on Thursday, December 01, 2011. | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 1, 2011 9:34PM
Joliet Central took its foot off the gas a little in the second half after the Steelmen overmatched turnover-plagued Plainfield South 37-5 in the opening half.
With 17 first-half turnovers to get its offense rolling behind spark plug Nijea Dixon, host Joliet Central rolled Thursday night to a 52-26 girls basketball victory.
Dixon, a senior point guard who transferred this year from Jackson, Miss., scored 10 of her game-high 23 points in the first quarter when Central raced to a 21-3 advantage.
“I just wanted to come here and become a team leader and help the team,’’ said Dixon, who averaged 12 points per game last season in Mississippi.
“She’s a quick guard,’’ Central coach Brian Reed said. “She gets a little out of control, a little helter-skelter, but she’s a good player. She’s got real good athletic ability.’’
Dixon’s three-point play from a steal and fullcourt drive put Central ahead 10-3 midway through the first quarter. Another steal and drive by Dixon increased the lead to 12-3 before her final basket of the opening quarter came on a putback to give Central an 18-3 cushion.
“We’re all going to do good this year,’’ Dixon said. “We’re just going to continue playing hard.’’
Central (2-4) also got key contributions from center LaSoji Ward (8 points, 9 rebounds) and guard Bernasia Fox (8 points).
“Last season was rough for the girls,’’ said Reed, who was Central’s freshman boys coach last season. “We’re trying to change the attitude around. We have some talent and they decided to play tonight.
“We’ve got to learn to work hard and play four quarters every time we step on the court. I liked what I saw tonight. It will come during the season.’’
“We’re going to accomplish a lot this year,’’ Dixon said. “We’re just going to grow and grow.’’
Jordan Miller had a team-high seven points for South (1-4), all in the second half. Aliyah Ferrell chipped in five points and seven rebounds.
“They’re pretty much all going to be tough,’’ first-year South coach Lea Carter said of the 26-point loss. “But they’re learning a lot and they don’t give up.’’