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Early turnovers prove costly in district tournament

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By Chris Cannon

ccannon@lafollettepress.com

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Turnovers caused Jacksboro to fall behind quick against Jefferson on Tuesday night.

Playing for a spot in the Area 2 AAA championship game, Jacksboro fell short after four straight turnovers to start the game resulted in a 9-0 Jefferson run.

The Eagles could never recover, as they fell 45-41 in the second round.

“That’s the key, that first quarter,” Jacksboro head coach Cody Parker said. “Ever since Christmas break, that was by far the worst quarter of basketball we’ve played. They came out in a one-three-one, and we weren’t prepared for that.”

The Eagles had never seen Jefferson in that defensive set, and wasn’t ready for that.

While Jacksboro does have a motion set that breaks the one-three-one, it had trouble getting into that set to break the defense.

“It really took our kids that first quarter before we settled down and started playing,” Parker said.

Landon Reese broke the ice for the Eagles, driving the lane for a bucket with 2:36 left in the first quarter. Jacksboro got the bucket, taking advantage of one of only two turnovers by Jefferson in the first quarter.

However, the Eagles did make a comeback, cutting the Jefferson lead to two, 18-16, with 16 seconds left in the first half.

“In the fourth quarter, we got some open looks,” Parker said. “We just couldn’t hit a shot. We got to the rim well, and we finished some. Sometimes, we didn’t.”

With 18 seconds remaining in the game, Jacksboro again cut the Jefferson lead to two after it had managed to extend it to as far as nine at one point.

Jacksboro’s 9-2 run was led by Reese’s three-of-four effort at the three-point line.

However, with 13 seconds remaining, Jefferson used a backdoor screen on an inbounds play to extend their lead to 45-41.

That lead would hold until the final buzzer.

“Really, I think the reason we lost that basketball game tonight was because we couldn’t rebound the basketball as well as we had been,” Parker said. “Jefferson, their athleticism and their size really gave us problems on the boards. Our first shot defense was pretty good, but our rebounding was not as good as it has been.”

Reese and Jacob McGuire led Jacksboro, posting 14 each.

“Those guys will do what they do,” Parker said. “Landon drives to the basket and finishes to get the offense started. When he gets going, it makes good things happen. He opens up other things for everybody else. McGuire, tonight, we were able to get him some shots on the perimeter for open looks. He knocked some of them down.”

Josh Lay added five points, as Jared Ray and Max Farris finished with three. Jacob Walden contributed two points.

For Jefferson, it was Anthony Gibson. Gibson scored 19 of Jefferson’s 45 points on the night.

Jacksboro will now have to scrap their way to Sevierville.

The Eagles face off with Horace Maynard at 5 p.m. tonight, Thursday night, in the consolation game of the tournament.

The winner will take third place, earning a trip to the TMSAA AAA Sectional Tournament. The loser will be going home.

However, for Parker, he couldn’t find an answer for how his guys would react on Thursday night.

“I wish I could give you the perfect answer,” he said. “Until we go out there and prove that we want it, it’s up in the air.”

Last season, the Eagles were in the same position.

According to Parker, the guys didn’t come ready to play in the consolation game. He said the guys didn’t act like they wanted to be there.

“This year’s group has a chance to change that and move on,” Parker said. “In my honest opinion, it just depends on if these eighth graders want to keep on playing.”