Jellico has proven it can play basketball with the big boys.
In two of their first six games this season, the Class A Blue Devils have gone toe-to-toe with Class AAA teams Knox Halls and Clinton before falling short down the stretch.
During Monday night’s home game against a talented and athletic Clinton squad, Jellico had a 32-31 halftime lead but couldn’t hold it. The Dragons ended up winning by 18 points, 75-57, but the Blue Devils showed what they’re capable of when they outscored Clinton 24-6 during a second quarter blitz.
“For a single A school playing a triple A school, that second quarter is as good as it gets,” said Blue Devils coach Mike Reynolds.
“We got in foul trouble in the second half, but our kids played hard. We played well tonight.”
Clinton guard C.J. Alred won a scoring duel with Jellico forward Jesse Chambers. Alred led all scorers with 26 points. He scored 22 points and hit a trio of 3-pointers during a spectacular second-half performance that clinched the game for the Dragons (2-0 district, 4-0 overall).
All-state quarterback Darian Stone added 14 points and a pair of treys for Clinton.
The Blue Devils (2-0 district, 3-3 overall) fell behind 15-8 in the opening quarter but caught up in a hurry during the second period.
Jellico forward Brent Ayers scored his only two points of the game when he put back a teammate’s missed free throw to force a 28-28 tie with 1:52 left in the first half. Senior point guard Darius Marlow made a layup on the next trip downcourt to give the Blue Devils a 30-28 edge.
Alred, who is being recruited by several D-I colleges, took over in the second half. By the beginning of the fourth quarter, Clinton had a five-point lead, 49-43.
“Obviously, we had a chance to beat Halls (3 pt. loss) and led Clinton at halftime,” said Reynolds.
“But it’s a great building experience to get to the postseason.”
Also scoring for Jellico was Thomas Ridenour with eight points, Marlow and Dustin Smiddy with seven each; Michael Smith three; Jeremiah Thompson, Brent Ayers and Gabe Mitchell two each; and Tyler Bolton one.
The Blue Devils came into Monday’s game on a three-game winning streak after having beaten Coalfield, 76-38; and the Knoxville Ambassadors, 82-58.
Jellico had four players score in double figures each game. Ayers led with 13 points against Coalfield, while Marlow had 12, Chambers 11 and Thompson 10. Chambers scored 20 points against the Ambassadors, followed by Smith with 14, Ayers and Thompson 11 each.