Jefferson basketball fans will continue to get a double dose of state tournament action -- and won't have to drive out of town to see it.
The top-seeded Dragons (24-5) and Lady Dragons (20-9) both won their first-round pairings with Lovett at home Friday in the Class AA state tournament. The boys prevailed 69-44 and the girls won 48-38.
By virtue of their no. 1 seeds, the Jefferson teams will host their Sweet 16 match ups early next week with both teams facing Manchester. The girls will play Monday (at a time to be determined later) and the boys will play either Monday or Tuesday (at a time to be determined).
As for Friday's action, both Jefferson squads used third-quarter runs to distance themselves from their Lovett opponents.
The Lady Dragons clung to an 18-15 lead coming out halftime but stymied Lovett in the third quarter, holding the Lady Lions scoreless for nearly the entire period. Lovett managed its first basket of the quarter with just 13 seconds left.
"I thought we did a really good job of just limiting them to one chance," Jefferson girls' coach Jason Gibson said. "Our first-shot defense was really good. Once we kind of got on a roll, it snowballed."
With the Lady Lion offense held in check, Gibson's squad built a double-digit lead. Abbie Franklin gave Jefferson a 32-17 edge when she knifed through the Lovett defense for a lay-up with just six seconds left in the period.
Franklin finished with 12 points to lead Jefferson, and Maddie Dills added nine.
The Lady Dragons led by as much as 23 points in the fourth quarter before Lovett used a 15-2 run to cut Jefferson's lead to 44-34. But that's as close as Lovett got.
"I was proud of our kids," Gibson said of the win. "They did a great job. Defense, without a doubt, and rebounding won the game for us tonight."
This is marks the Lady Dragons' first trip to the Sweet 16 since 2007, the year Gibson took over the program.
"It feels great to get back," Gibson said. "These kids have worked so hard. I'm very proud of them … It's been a fun group to coach. I really like this group of kids."
In the boys' game, Jefferson led 26-19 at intermission but ended up routing the Lions in the second half.
Satchel Turpin and Roc Young had a lot to do with that as Turpin poured in 24 points and Young added 21.
Turpin scored 10 points in the third quarter alone, and the Dragons closed that period with a 21-8 run to take a 54-35 lead.
"He had a really good second half," DuBose said of Turpin. "And I did think he attacked the rim better and didn't settle for jump shots."
Jefferson didn't let up in the fourth quarter. Young drilled a three-pointer with 3:22 left giving the Dragons a 64-39 edge. Young scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half.
"I did not feel like Lovett knew how good he was on offense," DuBose said. "He's so quick with the ball, I didn't feel like they had anybody who could stop him from going to the basket."
With the win, Jefferson has advanced to at least the second round of the state tournament 13 times under DuBose. The Dragons, however, have a tough second-round draw with Manchester, a 23-win team.
"There won't be an easy game from here on out, but we've just got to worry about Manchester now," DuBose said. "But I'm really proud of them."
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