JEFFERSON DRAGONS SPORTS UPDATE ~ 2010
Jefferson High School Basketball 2010
Throughout the Region and into the Final Four, the Jefferson Dragons had built a reputation on coming back to win. Thursday night found the Dragons again needing to rally after falling behind 34 - 27 at the end of the first half.
Instead of stepping on the gas in the second half, the Dragons hit a wall Thursday as Thomasville sped past Jefferson for a 69-43 win in the Macon Coliseum. The Bulldogs will play Greater Atlanta Christian on Saturday for the state title.
"When you get down by that much against a great basketball team, your chances aren't very good," Jefferson coach Bolling DuBose said. "Obviously, you want to win the state championship. If you look at it as the only way to have a successful season is to win a state championship, then there will only be one team a year that has a successful season."
Thursday marked the third trip to the state semifinals in Jefferson history. The first two came in 1970 and 1983. No Dragons team has ever played for a state title.
Jefferson's 18-game winning streak also ended in Macon. The Dragons finished their season with the Region 8-AA title and a 25-7 record.
"I'm disappointed. I hate to lose," senior point guard Darius Minor said. "Really, there was nothing we could do. They were better than us. ... We had a heck of a season. I had fun this season. This isn't anything I expected."
DuBose's biggest concern coming into the game against Thomasville was the Bulldogs' height. Thomasville's roster has eight players at 6-foot-3 or taller and two exceeding 6-7.
The Jefferson coach sent senior guard Rayshad Borders (5-10) to take the opening tip against Thomasville's Willie Clayton (6-7), practically conceding the first possession.
The Bulldogs' height caused problems for Jefferson right away as the Dragons gave up several second and third tries under the basket.
Intimidation also played a factor.
"I think we came out and guys, including myself, were terrified of how big they were," senior J.J. Damons said. "After halftime, I guess we had the mentality that we had already lost."
Despite the vertical advantage, Jefferson trailed by just seven points at the half. The Dragons won both of their first two playoff games by a combined three points, coming from behind in both.
The Bulldogs made any comeback nearly impossible in the third quarter by outscoring Jefferson 24-8. Six different Thomasville players scored in the third quarter, compared to just three for Jefferson.
"We talked at halftime that the first four or five minutes of the third quarter are going to be huge," DuBose said. "I thought in the third quarter, we really got sloppy with the ball. That really turned the game around."
Thomasville (24-4) managed to kill most of the clock in the fourth quarter while holding Jefferson to just eight points in the final eight minutes. Jefferson's 43 points is the team's lowest offensive output of the season.
Damons led Jefferson with 22 points, but no other Dragon scored more than six points. Minor, who scored 27 points in Jefferson's quarterfinal win over Callaway, managed just five points and was 0-for-3 from the free-throw line.
"It is just about what every team does," Minor said. "They say, 'If you stop No. 14, you stop them.' I think that is what they did."
Jefferson trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half after giving up an 8-0 run in which Thomasville's Clayton scored six of his 21 points.
Minor struggled to find the scoreboard in the first half, missing his first six shots. He didn't score until there were 53 seconds left in the half, when he hit a 3-pointer to pull the Dragons within seven of the Bulldogs.
While Minor had his challenges, Damons flourished, scoring 10 points in the second quarter alone and finishing the half with a team-high seven rebounds.
"I knew we were down and I wanted to keep us close before halftime," Damons said. "Usually we come out after halftime ready to do what we do. I guess everyone wasn't on the same page."
Both Minor and Damons were disappointed in the season-ending loss, but neither were overly emotional afterwards.
The two seniors knew that there are more levels of success than just a state title.
"It was a great season," DuBose said. "Anytime you win a region championship and get to the final four, it is a great season. I couldn't be more proud."
NO. 1 JEFFERSON VS. NO. 1 THOMASVILLE
► What: Class AA state semifinals
► When / Where: 5:30 p.m. today/Macon Centreplex
► Records: Jefferson (25-6), Thomasville (23-4)
► Coaches: Jefferson — Bolling Dubose; Thomasville — Ben Tillman
► Key players: Jefferson — PG Darius Minor (Sr., 6-foot-1), PF J.J. Damons (Sr., 6-2), C Andrew Bartek (Soph., 6-0). Thomasville — PG Trey Gosier (Soph., 5-7), PF Willie Clayton (Soph., 6-7), PF Robert Carter (Soph., 6-8).
► Average offense: Jefferson — 69.1 points per game; Thomasville — 65.1 points per game.
► Average defense: Jefferson — 55.4 points per game; Thomasville — 46.8 points per game.
► Last year: Jefferson did not reach the state Playoffs, falling in the first round of the Region
8-AA tournament. Thomsville lost in the second round of the Class AA playoffs to Greene County.
► Need to know: These two teams have not played recently and had no shared opponents this season. Jefferson and Thomasville represent Region 8 and Region 1, respectively. The drive from Jefferson to Thomasville would take roughly five hours. … Both teams have about a 21⁄2-hour drive to Macon. … Jefferson has been in the state semifinals twice before this season — 1970 and 1983. The last time, DuBose was the Dragons coach in his seventh season. … Jefferson has won 18 straight games, last losing to rival and Region 8-A champ Commerce 63-56 on Jan. 9. … DuBose said Thomasville is the best team Jefferson has seen since losing to Dalton during a Christmas tournament on Dec. 30. The coach said that Dalton and Thomasville are very similar, but that the Bulldogs are bigger. … The Bulldogs only lost back-to-back games once this season, in the Kingdom of the Sun Tournament in Ocala, Fla. … Thomasville scored more than 80 points twice this season but neither came in the year 2010. The Bulldogs have not scored less than 50 points in any game this season. … Jefferson lost four of its first five games, all of which came against teams in larger classifications. … The Dragons have scored more than 80 points five times this season, including an 88-62 win over Commerce three weeks after losing to the Tigers.
… Thomasville is led by three sophomores - Gosier, Clayton and Carter. Jefferson is led by a pair of seniors - Minor and Damons. Minor is the team's leading scorer and Damons is the team's leading rebounder. … The winner of today's game will play either Greater Atlanta Christian or Laney for the Class AA championship on Saturday in Macon.
Dragons advance to State AA Final Four - defeat Callaway 65 - 58 at The Northwest Center in Dalton.
Dalton. The Jefferson Dragons have made coming back to win the game a habit as they rallied for a thrilling win over a strong callaway team in the State AA Quarter-Finals on Friday night.
Trailing by six points at the half and by three at the end of the third quarter to Callaway in the quarterfinals of the Class AA state tournament on Friday, the Dragons limited the Cavaliers to but 21 second-half points to take a dramatic 65-58 victory.
"We just had a hard time scoring," said Jefferson coach Bo DuBose, whose team advances to the Class AA final four. "They were so athletic and it was a really physical game, like so many we've had lately. But these kids just keep finding a way to win in the fourth quarter."
The Dragons (25-6) have come from behind to defeat Manchester (68-67) and Westminster (58-56) in the first two rounds of the state playoffs. Friday marked Jefferson's 18th consecutive victory - the Dragons have been undefeated in February and March.
Darius Minor led the way with 26 points, 11 of which came in the fourth quarter.
"That's probably the best he's ever played in his life," said DuBose. "He handled the ball well and just did a great job for us."
J.J. Damons added 13 points, 13 of which came in the fourth quarter. Damons was clutch at the free-throw line late, connecting on 5 of 6 attempts in the game's last two minutes.
Tate Chesser contributed eight points for the Dragons.
Jefferson will face the winner of tonight's game between Thomasville and Henry County in the Class AA semifinals at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Macon Coliseum.
Dragons Survive: Move on to Elite EightJEFFERSON 58, WESTMINSTER 56: At Jefferson, the Dragons won their 17th consecutive game by defeating visiting Westminster in the second round of the Class AA state tournament.
Jefferson (24-6) advances to the elite eight, where the Dragons will face Callaway at 8:30 p.m. on Friday at the Northwest Georgia Trade Center in Dalton.
It was the Dragons' third consecutive tight game, but this one was a bit different as they led for most of the night, building a 13-point lead at the end of the third quarter.
"In our last two games, we never really had the lead but tonight we got out ahead early and we had a chance to pull away but we missed too many easy shots," said Jefferson coach Bo Dubose. "The third quarter won the game for us as we outscored them 16-6 and led 43-30 at the end of the third quarter."
Westminster scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to cut Jefferson's lead to five points, but the Dragons made enough free throws down the stretch to keep the Wildcats at bay.
"We were up five with two-and-a-half minutes left, so we pulled up and let them start fouling us," said Dubose. "We're not a great foul shooting team but we made enough to keep the lead."
Darius Minor led the Dragons with 20 points and he was paced by J.J. Damons, who added 18 points. Westminster (15-14) was led by Malik Reynolds, who scored 19 points, and Malcolm Chester, who scored 13 points. Reynolds and Chester scored eight points each in the fourth quarter.
NO. 3 WESTMINSTER AT
NO. 1 JEFFERSON
► When and where: 7 p.m. tonight at
► Records: Westminster (15-13), Jefferson (23-6)
► This time last year: Westminster lost in the first round of the Class AA playoffs to Callaway, 51-49. Jefferson did not reach the state playoffs, losing in the first round of the Region 8-AA tournament.
► Need to know: These two teams have not played each other in recent history and had no common opponents this season. … Westminster reached the second round by upsetting No. 2 seed Dade County 83-81 on Friday. The game marked the second-highest offensive output of the season. The Wildcats finished third in Region 6-AA, losing to eventual champion Greater Atlanta Christian in the region tournament. … Jefferson advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-2007 season via a comeback win over fourth-seeded Manchester at home on Friday, 68-67. The Dragons received 21 points off the bench from junior David Watson, who also had the game-winning tip-in. Jefferson won the Region 8-AA title in similar fashion, coming from behind to beat Riverside Military 58-57 in the closing seconds. … Jefferson is on a 16-game winning streak, the program's longest streak since a 17-game winning streak in the 2006-2007 season. … Despite scoring more than 60 points in its last two games, Westminster is still averaging 52.9 points per game while giving up an average of 51.4 points per game. … The Wildcats have won five games while scoring less than 50 points this season. The Dragons have scored less than 50 points once this season, a 51-44 loss to Franklin County on Nov. 28. … The winner of tonight’s game will play the winner of Callaway/Decatur at the Northwest Georgia Trade Center in Dalton.
NO. 2 ST. FRANCIS AT NO. 1 COMMERCE
► When and where: 7 p.m. tonight at Commerce
► Records: St. Francis (13-15), Commerce (22-7)
► This time last year: St. Francis did not reach the state playoffs, losing in the Region 7-A tournament to Eagle’s Landing Christian. Commerce lost in the first round of the Class A playoffs, falling to Paideia 49-30.
n Need to know: These two teams have not played each other in recent history and had no common opponents this season. … St. Francis cruised past third-seeded Mt. Zion-Carroll in the first round 61-34 for its first playoff win since the 2004-2005 season. The Knights finished second in Region 7-A via two close wins (48-45 over Eagle's Landing Christian, 45-44 over Wesleyan) in the region tournament. … Commerce edged out Our Lady of Mercy in the first round 54-52 to advance to the second round for the first time in years. The Tigers won the Region 8-A title by beating defending champion Athens Christian 67-56 in the finals. … Commerce has won five straight since losing to Lakeview Academy 60-48 on Feb. 11. … St. Francis is one of the few teams still left in the playoffs with a losing record. The Knights are scoring 55 points per game, but have scored more than 50 only once in their past five games. … Commerce averages 63 points per game (giving up 53 points per game), but scored more than 70 points 11 times this year. The Tigers have won just two games in which they scored less than 50 points this season. … Both teams have a rotation of leading scorers. St. Francis is generally led by Mike Turner, Nick Grant, Sam Hawkins or Sam Kim. Commerce is generally led by Tyler Gamble, Bubba Bonds and Channing Anderson. … The winner of tonight's game will play the winner of Whitefield Academy/Paideia in the quarterfinals at Marietta High
Originally published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Dragon's advance with one-point win . . .
JEFFERSON - In the middle of a sea of jubilant fans and players Friday, Jefferson coach Boling DuBose told an assistant coach that he wasn't sure his team deserved the win because it only led for 6 seconds.
"He told me that we led the only time that it mattered and that is what counts," DuBose said.
The top-seeded Dragons pulled off their second consecutive comeback and remained alive in the Class AA state tournament by beating Manchester 68-67. The win was Jefferson's 16th straight this season but its first win in the playoffs since the 2006-2007 season.
Jefferson (23-6) will host No. 3 seed Westminster from Region 6-AA on Tuesday in the second round. Westminster upset No. 2 seed Dade County on the road on Friday to stay alive.
The Region 8-AA champions were also nearly upset on their home court, but a second-half surge and skinny junior guard gave the team new playoff life.
After trailing 39-26 at halftime and never having a lead, Jefferson inched its way back to within four points of the Blue Devils with less than 30 seconds to play.
Junior David Watson hit his second 3-pointer of the game with 16 seconds left to make the score 67-66 in favor of Manchester. After Manchester's Jaleel White missed the front-end of a one-and-one, Watson fought through a group of leaping players to tip his own shot in with six second left at the other end of the court.
"It was in slow motion," Watson said. "I just jumped up and tipped it in. I wasn't even looking at the clock. It felt really good."
Manchester, trailing for the first time in the game at 68-67, had four second left to devastate the home crowd, but Tremaine Kelley's half-court shot bounced harmlessly off the rim.
"I'm still shaking," senior point guard Darius Minor said. "I'm still nervous and the game is over. ... (Watson) was huge tonight. He won us the game."
Watson, a bench player, led the team with 21 points. J.J. Damons added 18 points and led the team in rebounding with 14. Despite not scoring a field goal until the 1:51 mark of the third quarter, Minor added nine points, six of which came in the fourth quarter.
DuBose knew that the No. 4 seed next to Manchester's name was misleading. The Blue Devils finished second in Region 5-AA in the regular season but were upset in the region tournament. They won a Class AA state title in 2006-2007 season.
The Dragons had to outscore Manchester 42-18 in the second half to complete the comeback.
"That is a good basketball team we just played," DuBose said. "All the coaches I talked to said they are as good as any team in the region. They could have won the region."
Jefferson trailed just 12-11 after the first quarter but the Blue Devils did most of their damage in the second quarter, creating a lot of distance between themselves and the Dragons.
Manchester out-scored Jefferson 27-15 in the second quarter, going on separate unanswered runs of six and seven points. Meanwhile, the Dragons had just one unanswered basket.
"In that second quarter, they just blitzed us," DuBose said. "We panicked with the ball and ended up turning it over a lot."
When they weren't turning the ball over, the Dragons were shooting 11-for-39 in the first half. The Dragons shot just five free throws to Manchester's 12 in the first half.
"You can't let your team get nervous," Minor said. "They weren't doing anything we hadn't seen, we just couldn't jump to it on the court."
The Dragons coach told his team that if it cut Manchester's lead in half during the third quarter, they would have a chance. Jefferson got as close as five points in the third quarter.
When Watson made his game-winning tip-in, DuBose was surprised for a very different reason than the rest of the Jefferson faithful.
"We stress that the weak-side wingman has to go to the basket," the coach said. "They are usually too lazy to get to the basket. It is amazing to me that he was there."
Originally published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Saturday, February 27, 2010
STATE BASKETBALL TOURNEY SCHEDULE
No. 4 Our Lady of Mercy at No. 1 Commerce
No. 3 Southwest Atlanta Christian at No. 2 Athens Christian
No. 4 Manchester at No. 1 Jefferson * * *
No. 3 Lithia Springs at No. 2 Winder-Barrow
No. 3 Madison County at No. 2 Banneker
No. 4 Clarke Central at No. 1 Mays
No. 4 Whitefield Academy at No. 1 Prince Avenue Christian
No. 3 Athens Academy at No. 2 Pace Academy
No. 3 Macon County at No. 2 North Oconee
No. 4 Douglas County at No. 1 Madison County
No. 3 Clarke Central at No. 2 Fayette County
Follow the Dragons as they batte for the State AA cage crown.
Dragon's win Region ~ Head for State play.
February 24 @ East Jackson High school in Commerce
COMMERCE -- Jefferson's J.J. Damons scored a layup with 6 seconds remaining to tie the score, made the ensuing foul shot to give his team the lead and recorded a steal with 3 seconds left to seal the deal as the Dragons defeated Riverside Military Academy 58-57 for the Region 8-AA championship.
It was Jefferson's 15th consecutive victory and seventh region championship in the last decade. The Dragons (22-6) will host Manchester at a time to be determined on Friday in the first round of the Class AA state tournament.
The Dragons, who were down 27-20 at halftime but scored 20 points in the third quarter to stay in the game, got 19 points from Darius Minor (who scored 17 points in the second half), 14 points from David Watson, 12 points from Tate Chesser and 11 points from Damons.
"All night long we kept getting in a hole and couldn't dig ourselves out," Jefferson coach Bo DuBose said. "Riverside did a great job of slowing the tempo down and did a good job of keeping J.J. out of the game. But his last three points were pretty big.".