The Jefferson and Commerce high school basketball teams will meet Saturday for the first time this season.
The girls will tip-off at 6 p.m. in Commerce, with the boys’ game following at 7:30 p.m.
The teams were to play earlier this year, but the schools postponed the games because of a scheduling conflict with JHS’ extended football season, which culminated in a state championship.
The outcomes of the basketball games mean nothing more than bragging rights. But that’s motivation enough to make the simmering court rivalry between the boys’ squads especially interesting.
Last year, the teams split wins, with each one securing victories at opposing gymnasiums. The previous two seasons, the Dragons and Tigers also split wins.
Entering this week, the boys’ records were similar overall — 5-5 for Commerce and 5-6 for Jefferson — with several players having emerged on each side as key to their teams’ success.
Jefferson’s Tay Taylor and Jake Franklin have provided grit and stability in recent weeks as the five varsity football players on the Dragons’ team began working their way back into basketball shape and playing rotation, coach Bolling DuBose said.
For Commerce, the players to watch are Thomas McMillan, who is averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds a game, Robert Hayes and Tyree Treadwell.
Commerce and Jefferson have faced one common opponent this season, Oglethorpe County.
The Dragons lost to the team by four points, and the Tigers beat the Patriots by 30 points.
The Jefferson-Oglethorpe game took place before the Dragons’ football players — including Kendrick Robinson, Evan Shirreffs, Tyler Patrick, Donnie Hatfield and Rufus Whitfield — returned to the court.
“It’s always a big rivalry. This year will be no different,” said Commerce coach Rob Brown, who took over the Tigers this year. “I’m sure with their state championship in football they will be even more excited. We are just going to take it just like any other game. They are just another team on our schedule.”
The girls’ matchup is expected to lean in JHS’ favor, with the young Lady Tigers (2-8) team expected to be outmatched the veteran Lady Dragons (8-5).