It took just 10 seconds for Jefferson High School to draw first blood in the opening round of the Walnut Grove Christmas Tournament but the rest of the game belonged to Athens Christian Academy.
Tay Taylor’s hot hand delivered and a shot fell from the behind the arc in Jefferson’s fast-paced start but it was a short-lived moment to savor as the Dragons would fall 77-57.
The foul bug struck Jefferson which allowed the Eagles to vacation at the charity stripe for most of the game. The Dragons fell behind 16-10 and its foul drama continued to be the catalyst for the Eagles’ success.
Jefferson’s inability to earn time at the foul line limited the chances to climb back. Dangerous passes, turnovers and a long scoring drought sent JHS into the locker room at the half, down 41-22. Jefferson’s downward spiral continued coming out of the half and knocked them out of contention for a first-place finish in the tourney.
The dark clouds passed on day two as Jefferson faced fewer challenges in a win that really showed their versatility on the roster. Just when it looked like the Dragons’ flame had been put out, they turned things around with a statement with over Monroe Area High School.
Tyler Patrick and Jake Franklin set the tone for Jefferson for an early 5-0 lead. The Hurricanes made their presence felt as they held on to a 2-point lead at the bottom of the first quarter. From there, both squads saw a scoring slump.
Taylor showed up to pull the Dragons within one and Satchel Turpin followed with a 2-pointer but the Dragons’ lead quickly diminished as a trip to the foul line by Monroe tied the game at 19 each. A 3-pointer by Evan Shirreffs sealed a 12-point lead and was the turning point for Jefferson that had to fend off a hungry Monroe team down to the final seconds.
In the finale, the Dragons were looking to go 2-1, but fell 52-39 to Heritage High School. Nearly five minutes passed before Jefferson sunk its first shot, courtesy of Jeshua Kidd.
The Patriots didn’t have much to brag about either as both teams combined for just nine points in the first quarter. Down 26-13 at the break, Jefferson continued its plunge and struggled heavily at the free throw line where Jefferson could have taken the Patriots out of the game.
Patrick was awarded for his performance and named to the All-Tournament Team for the Dragons. Jefferson will return to action Jan. 4 as they travel to face Oglethorpe County High School. Showtime is set for 8:30 p.m.