One spark can start a fire.
That’s how players on the Jefferson High School boys’ basketball team look at the court in front of them. That’s how they handle being down — by a lot.
“Be the spark,” junior Tay Taylor said. “If one person can come in and spark it for us, then everyone comes together as a team.”
On Saturday, that’s precisely what happened. The Dragons stunned Greene County High School at its home gym, overcoming an 18-point deficit to win the region 8-AA championship, 53-51.
The win was singed Wednesday, with the team's 63-56 loss to Kendrick High School at home. But that won't likely keep the Dragons from remembering their most remarkable comeback of the season.
It started with less than two minutes to go in the first half.
Taylor sparked the team first. He scored eight unanswered points, including two three-pointers to fire up JHS and move the team within nine points at the break, 31-22.
This time it was Willie Taylor whose surprise three-pointer kept the momentum going in what would be a back-andforth final period.
“I’m not sure he ever got over his nerves,” DuBose said, with a laugh. “I told him just don’t take any threes. What does he do? He jacks up a three-pointer and makes it!”
He credited Willie Taylor’s conversion with getting the Dragons through what could’ve been a vulnerable transition after the incredible comeback.
“We knew we could come back,” Tay Taylor said. “We just had to work hard, keep our heads in it and come together.”
The final four minutes went back-andforth, with the Dragons taking their first lead of the game with 3:38 to play.
Tyler Patrick scored six points in the last period, including all of his four free throws, to move ahead and keep pace with the Tigers. Satchel Turpin scored another key basket during that stretch.
Together, Patrick and Turpin combined for more than 20 rebounds, a key statistic.
“I just kept on pushing for them,” Patrick said.
Taylor’s two free throws moved the Dragons ahead for good with 32 seconds left to play, as the Tigers failed to convert its final shot.
Patrick led the team with 15 points. Tay Taylor finished with 13 points. Turpin added eight, with Willie Taylor, Jeshua Kidd, Isaiah Blake and Roc Young all contributing points.
“We thought Greene County might panic,” DuBose said. “They weren’t the same team they were early in the game.”
It was the second comeback in as many nights, as the Dragons beat Rabun County in a close match, 60-56 in the semifinal on Friday.
Three Dragons scored in double figures (Kidd, 14, Tay Taylor, 11, and Willie Taylor, 10).
He views the comebacks as lessons learned over the long season.
“One thing they’ve done all year is play hard,” said DuBose, who mentioned the strength of schedule. “That is one thing we’ve learned over and over this season is to keep playing hard and keep playing hard…We did not know how to finish out close games around Christmas.”
Now there are players ready and waiting to be on the free-throw line with nine seconds left to play and a chance to win the game.
“I’ve coached for 37 years, there has not been a lot of games like that,” DuBose said. “The significance of that one being in a region championship, being down like that, I could not be prouder. That was a huge win, one of the best we have ever have.”
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