FRANKLIN SPRINGS — On the strength of an NBA-like scoring total in the first quarter, Jefferson eased its way into the region finals.
The Dragons (17-7) posted 31 first-quarter points in an 86-59 rout of Monroe Area Friday (Feb. 7) in the Region 8-AAA boys' basketball semifinals at Emmanuel College.
“I thought we were going to score 120 (points),” Jefferson coach Kevin Morris joked. “But, yeah, we came out and played really, really good to start with and just shot it good.”
Jefferson, winners of eight games in a row, will play Franklin County in the 8-AAA finals Monday (Feb. 10) at 8:30 p.m. at Emmanuel College (games were moved from Saturday due to winter weather).
Jacob Radaker led Jefferson with 23 points against Monroe Area, while Malaki Starks added 19 points. Owen Parker and Spencer Darby each finished with 10 points.
Jefferson came out hitting 13-of-20 from the floor in a fast-paced first quarter in jumping out to a 31-14 lead.
“We had 31, but we only gave up 14,” Morris said. “That’s still pretty good when you had to shoot it as quick as we had and there’s as many possessions as there were. To give up that many was pretty dang good.”
Starks had 11 first-quarter points.
The Dragons led by 20 points twice in the second quarter before taking a 49-30 lead into halftime. Jefferson got a basket from Starks and a 3-pointer from Parker in the first 30 seconds after halftime to open up a 20-point third quarter to take a 69-43 lead into the fourth quarter.
Jefferson’s subs pushed the lead to over 30 at one point in the final period. Ten different Dragons got into the scorebook as Jefferson recorded its sixth-straight win by 18 points or more.
The Dragons will now play for a region title for a third year in a row. Jefferson hasn’t won a region championship since 2014, while Morris has never won a region title in his 18-year head-coaching career.
“We want to ‘change the banner,’” Morris said of his team’s slogan. “That would change the banner. That would be a banner-changer. That ain’t the ultimate goal, but that would be the first changing of the banner. There’s a few more that we can change on down, but that would be a great one to change first.”