Jefferson’s Courtney Kidd had a quiet game in Round 1 of the Tabo’s Tip-Off Tournament but made up for lost time late in Round 2.
Kidd scored 10 fourth-quarter points, finishing with 14, to lift the host Dragons past Druid Hills, 43-39, Monday (Nov. 25). Jefferson (6-0), which remained undefeated on the year, will play for the tournament championship Tuesday (Nov. 26) at 6 p.m. against Cedar Shoals.
“She didn’t play very good Saturday; I think she’d be the first to tell you that,” Jefferson girls’ basketball coach Greg Brown said. “I was just really proud of how she came back today and just bounced back and played really, really well. Just forgot about that game and just moved on. She played big when we need her to.”
Deshona Gaither had a big night as well, leading Jefferson with 17 points, most of which came in the second and third quarters.
The Dragons trailed most of the night, but back-to-back layups from Livi Blackstock late in the third quarter pulled Jefferson to within a point, 32-31.
Kidd then hit a short jumper in the paint at the 6:55 mark in the fourth quarter to give Jefferson the lead at 33-32.
Kidd followed with two 3-pointers, the second of which put Jefferson ahead 39-35. With the game tied 39-39 with 50 seconds left, Kidd sank another short jumper in the lane to put the Dragons up for good.
The team made a point of getting the ball to Kidd in the middle of Druid Hill’s zone, according to Brown.
“We just told her, catch it, square up and score … We were able to create some better looks I thought against that zone in the second half by getting it to her in the middle,” he said.
Blackstock sank a pair of free throws with 26.9 seconds left for the final margin of victory.
“I thought we did a great job down the stretch taking care of it, getting it to Livi right there so she could get to the free-throw line,” Brown said. “I’m just proud of how we fought and kept our composure the whole time.”
Jefferson has had to rally in four of its six victories this season. Brown said that speaks to the team’s maturity, especially with injuries on the team and players taking on new duties.
“I’m just proud of them,” he said. “I told them at halftime that we were going to win the game, and they fully believed that.”
The victory came over a Druid Hills team that was off to a 4-0 start and ranked No. 4 in the Class AAAA top 10. Brown called this a big victory.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” he said. “They’re very athletic. They’ve got a very good point guard, and they gave us fits defensively. I’ll be the first to tell you that. But I think it’s a great win for our program.”
Jefferson now looks forward to the tournament championship against Cedar Shoals.
“The awesome part about it is we get to play for a championship (Tuesday) night,” Brown said. “That’s what’s fun. That’s always fun when you get to play for a championship. You can’t substitute those reps in a championship-type environment, and we’re excited about that opportunity.”