Jefferson coach Kevin Morris ended up feeling better about his basketball team after a loss than he did in its most recent win.
The Dragons (2-2) fell to Winder-Barrow 72-69 Monday (Nov. 25) in the second round of the Tabo’s Tip-Off Tournament at Jefferson after what Morris deemed a lackluster 60-44 win over Flowery Branch Saturday (Nov. 23).
“I told them, ‘Is it crazy that I feel better tonight about you after losing by three than I did the night before after you won by 16?’” Morris said. “They kind of looked at me like I was crazy. But that team right there (Winder-Barrow) is going to win a lot of basketball games ...
“I thought they did a ton of really good things tonight.”
Jacob Radaker scored a game-high 33 points in a losing effort. He tied the game at 69-69 with a 3-pointer with 1:29 left, but Winder-Barrow’s Tyreek Perkins answered with a 3-pointer with 1:15 remaining that ended up being the game-winning shot.
Radaker was fouled on a 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds remaining but went to the free-throw line with a chance to tie the game and was unable to convert his three attempts. The Navy signee had been 7-of-9 at the free-throw line to that point.
The 6-foot-9 Radaker registered a big night in the scorebook despite being guarded by 6-foot-10 Winder-Barrow post player Isaiah Nelson-Ododa.
“Jacob did a good job of finishing, and we did a good job of finding him,” Morris said. “Jacob’s success is a lot of times dependent on us finding him.”
Radaker scored 11 points through the first 10:49 of the contest to stake the Dragons to a 23-11 lead before Perkins rallied the Bulldoggs with 11 points in the quarter. Perkins converted a traditional 3-point play to cut Jefferson’s lead to 29-24 at the 2:05 mark.
Morris said his team generally played solid defense on Perkins, who still managed to hit big shots. He said the exception was the second quarter.
“If we had done a better job (then), he may not have gone off in the third and fourth quarter,” Morris said.
Winder-Barrow’s Tim Loud owned the final 1:09 of the first half, scoring eight points in that stretch, including an NBA-range 3-pointer from the top of the key with two seconds left before halftime to narrow Jefferson’s lead to 35-34.
The lead changed four times in the third quarter, ending with a basket from Radaker with seven seconds left to put the Dragons back ahead 57-56.
Winder-Barrow surged ahead in the fourth quarter with a 13-4 run to take a 69-61 lead — its biggest of the night. Jefferson clawed its way back with a 3-pointer from Spencer Darby, a basket from Radaker and then a 3-pointer from Radaker to square the game at 69-69 with 1:29 left.
But Perkins later responded with his biggest basket of the night as his 3-point attempt settled into the bottom of the net with 1:15 remaining.
Morris said his team lost to a good Winder-Barrow squad.
“That team is going to compete,” he said. “That’s a six-A school that’s going to compete right there and possibly win their region. They’ll be a state-tournament team in six-A.”
Jefferson will take on Dacula Tuesday (Nov. 26) at 4:30 p.m. in the third-place game of the Tabo’s Tip-Off Tournament.