High school basketball season is barely two weeks old, and already the Jellico boys are positioning themselves for a run at the District 2-A title.
The Blue Devils routed their first three opponents by an average margin of 24 points. That includes a 66-55 pre-Thanksgiving victory over defending league champion Hancock County on Nov. 24 at Sneedville.
A win tomorrow (Fri.) night at Washburn would give Jellico a 2-0 district record before Christmas.
“It was a war, of course,” said longtime Jellico coach Alvin Evans.
“Anytime you go to Hancock County or Washburn, it’s a war. We got in foul trouble, but kept our composure down the stretch.”
Sharp shooting guard Ben Mitchell has provided the spark for Jellico’s early season success.
The lone senior on a team dominated by juniors and sophomores, Mitchell averaged 18.7 points and hit 14 three-pointers in the first three games of the season.
Against Hancock County, he scored a team-high 18 points, bombed in four treys and finished the game with an acrobatic slam dunk.
Point guard Darius Marlow and forward Jesse Chambers, both juniors, chipped in 13 points each for the Blue Devils. Matt Ayers, a 6-foot-4 junior center added nine points, followed by junior guard Jeremiah Thompson with seven, and Thomas Ridenour and Dustin Smiddy four each.
Hancock County was led by Hunter Carpenter with 19 points and big Theo Collingsworth with 12.
Chambers, a physical 6-foot-2 player, hung 21 points on Berean Christian two weeks ago during a 78-55 season opening triumph for Jellico. With an average of 16.3 points per game, Chambers is the second leading scorer this season for the Blue Devils.
“Jesse is solid all around. He always gives a good effort,” said Evans.
Eight other Jellico players scored against Berean Christian.
Mitchell duplicated the effort he had against Hancock County with 18 points and four treys. Marlow finished with 11 points, followed by Ayers and Ridenour with nine each, Smiddy and Jeremy Steadman four each, Jerry Walker three and Thompson two.
The night after their impressive win at Sneedville, the Blue Devils trounced visiting Coalfield, 79-41.
Mitchell gunned in 20 points, including half a dozen three-point bombs, and shot 64 percent from the field. He scored 14 points and hit four treys in the first half alone.
Jellico raced out to a 22-4 start and built a 28-point lead, 47-19, by halftime.
Chambers contributed 15 points to the Blue Devils’ attack, followed by Marlow with 11, Ayers nine, Thompson and Steadman seven each, Tyler Bolton four, Ridenour and Walker three each.
Ridenour pulled down 10 rebounds while Ayers and Steadman had seven each. Marlow had a double-double with 10 assists to go with his 11 points. Thompson made four steals.
Jacob Powers paced Coalfield with 14 points and a pair of three-pointers.
“We still need some defensive play out of two or three of (our players),” said Evans.
“We’re shooting the ball decent. But sometimes we get into the excitement of shooting and scoring, and we forget about defense.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum are the Jellico’s girls, who have yet to taste victory this season.
The Lady Blue Devils fell 63-28 to Hancock County and 60-19 to Coalfield.
Kayla Bolton and Noel Tiller combined to score 25 of the Lady Blue Devils’ 28 points against Hancock County. Tiller and Amber Barton led Jellico with five points each against Coalfield, followed by Ashley Gulley and Karli Creekmore three each, Bolton two and Michaela Marlow one.