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Davis: Dragons too good to be ignored
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The word virtual derives from the Latin word virtus, meaning strength and virtue.

It’s rather strange that when used in our context, however, virtual has little to do with strength or virtue. Virtual is simulation, dream-like states and being something in essence rather than recognized or admitted.

Here’s an example: In my virtual reality, I played basketball for Tennessee.

Virtual can also be seeing, but not paying attention to.

Let me give you an example: “The Jefferson boys basketball team goes virtually unnoticed.”

We know they’re there, we read their scores, we’re familiar with the names J.J. Damons and Darius Minor; but we don’t pay attention.

Under coach Bolling DuBose, Jefferson has had 20-plus wins in seven of the last nine years while winning six region championships.

“We’ve been good for a while,” said DuBose with a laugh — he isn’t unaware of his team going unnoticed.

This year alone, Jefferson is 17-6, 8-0 in Region 8B-AA and on a 10-game winning streak.

The Dragons are motivated and hungry, both because of the distant and closer past.

Jefferson was the No. 1 seed out of Region 8-AA heading into last year’s state tournament, and was upset in the first round. It was the first time in DuBose’s tenure that had happened.

Then, on Jan. 9, for the first time in 21 meetings and 10 years, Jefferson lost to Commerce. That statement need not go virtually unnoticed, and here’s why: What were you doing 10 years ago and what are you doing now?

Or did you just pay attention to the part about them losing?

Having a 10-year winning streak against a team doesn’t happen these days because of parity, because of instability in the coaching ranks and the constantly changing rosters (i.e. transfers). It also doesn’t happen because it’s improbable and virtually impossible.

“We want to make amends for last year, DuBose said. “Losing (in the first round) has really motivated the kids.

“But losing to Commerce, that woke our kids up,” DuBose said. “We’ve continued to get better and better, and haven’t lost since.”

In DuBose’s opinion — and by his track record it’s clear he’d know — two things are needed to make a winning team: solid point guard play and senior leadership.

This season he has both.

Minor, a senior and quintessential leader — he’s the football team’s quarterback and the basketball team’s point guard — is averaging 18 points per game.

Fellow senior Damons is averaging 15 points and 13 rebounds.

“Darius is as good as there is,” DuBose said, “and our senior leadership has been great.

“All of our seniors have a role, understand their role and play their role, and you can’t beat that.”

Aside from DuBose’s glowing remarks, Jefferson’s senior leadership is evident in the fact that the team started the season 1-4, but has since lost only two games.

“Our kids are getting better and that’s because of our leadership and the way things ended last year and the loss to Commerce,” DuBose said. “Here’s the thing, if you aren’t better at the end then you were at the beginning, you not only aren’t going to do well, but you aren’t doing something right.”

Katie B. Davis is a sports writer for The Times. Contact her at
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