It might have been a strange start for the Jefferson boys’ basketball team, which relinquished the opening lead to Union Star, but the Eagles found their stroke in a big way, leading to a 66-32 win Tuesday night.
After Union Star grabbed the first momentum swing of the night on a three-pointer from Christian Johnson, Jefferson caught fire for the remainder of the first half. Following Johnson’s triple, the Eagles used an 8-0 run to take a 10-5 lead, which was ended by another Johnson field goal.
Part of the burst was a layup from senior guard Jed Galbraith that gave head coach Tim Jermain and the Eagles a 6-5 lead, their first of the contest.
With the Trojan zone defense collapsing hard on paint touches, Jefferson shooters were left to heave open looks from deep, which sparked a 9-0 run to go up, 19-7. Sophomore center Caden Farnan led the charge with an and-one immediately succeeded by a steal at midcourt and a fastbreak layup.
“It probably started with our defense,” Jermain said. “We were able to get a couple turnovers off our press that led to some layups. That kind of got us going. Early, we had some good looks, they just didn’t go down. I thought the difference was getting some offense with our defense.”
A fadeaway three-pointer from the right wing near the sideline hit nothing but nylon for junior guard Jason Sullivan, putting the Eagles up at the end of the first, 28-14.
That momentum continued in the second period, as Jefferson began the quarter on a 7-0 spurt. Immediately after the run ended, another 6-0 run pushed the Eagle lead to 41-15. At the 5:09 mark, Johnson buried Union Star’s first field goal of the second frame from the middle of the lane.
Jefferson’s hot shooting in the opening half propelled Jermain’s team to a 54-23 advantage at intermission.
“Our homecoming, we shot the ball well, but that’s one of the better offensive halves we’ve had,” Jermain said.
The third period saw things cool off for Jefferson, which rotated inexperienced varsity players into the action to garner valuable playing time. However, the Eagles still outscored the Trojans, 11-5, to carry a 65-28 advantage into the final quarter.
Jermain believed the stellar shooting performance for Jefferson will give the team confidence as it heads into the most important part of the season with the district tournament beginning next week.
“I sure hope so,” Jermain said. “ … We still have a big conference game in front of us, so hopefully it gives us some confidence going into Thursday night.”
In the fourth, with a running clock putting the contest to a close quickly, the Eagles capped off an impressive offensive display to take their 16th win of the year.
Junior forward Bryce Deen led Jefferson with 18 points, followed by Sullivan with 14. Galbraith, Jefferson’s lone senior, tallied three points in his final home game. Johnson poured in 20 points to lead all scorers.
The Eagles (16-8) will finish the regular season at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at DeKalb.