Jefferson didn’t start fast or close out particularly strong, but its second and third-quarter performance was more than enough to deliver a lopsided region win.
The Dragons, playing their third game in five days, routed Madison County 64-43 Saturday (Jan. 9) on the road. Jefferson (8-3, 3-1 Region 8-AAAA play) led 16-14 after a quarter but blew the game open by the end of the third quarter, leading 57-31.
“The second and third quarter, we played really good,” coach Kevin Morris said. “We’re still trying to put together a whole game.”
The coach added, “We didn’t finish well in the fourth quarter.”
Dalen Gales scored 19 points off the bench and Spencer Darby added 17 points. Jefferson forced Madison County into 26 turnovers, scoring 23 points off those takeaways. The Dragons also benefitted from nine 3-pointers.
“Good defense leads to easy offense for us,” Morris said. “The big thing for us is making 3-point shots … We’ve got a bunch of people who can shoot them and make them, and I that obviously helped us there in the second and third (quarter).”
With the win, Jefferson improved to 7-1 over its last eight games. The Dragons, who graduated three key seniors from last year’s team, are on a hot streak despite having been without its football-playing members for most of the season, leaving it shorthanded.
“It’s been great,” Morris said of his team’s play during this stretch. “I would have never thought at this point in time — and not necessarily because of who were playing with, but just the lack of depth that we had — I just never would have thought we’d be a this point.”
“This group has really done a good job,” Morris continued. “We’ve relied on the 3-point shot a great deal, and they’ve shot it at a very high clip. As long as we can continue to do that, we’re going to be OK.”
Morris said the team must continue to work on shot selection and setting up players for those shots, but added, “I’m very proud and very happy with the progress that this group has made.”
Jefferson stands to benefit from the return of Kam Robinson and Kadin Bailey from football. Bailey’s presence in the post — where Jefferson is thin — is much-needed, while Robinson’s athleticism, experience and defensive prowess at guard should provide a major boost moving forward.
The Dragons host Rabun County Tuesday (Jan. 12, 7:30 p.m.) in non-region play.