Jefferson boys 59, Riverside Military 41
Minor 13, Beck 8, H. Damons 8, J. Damons 8, Martin 6, Robinson 4, Milsap 4, Sexton 3, Smith 3, Woods 2.
Riverside Military 41
Davis 12, McKinney 12, Tribble 9, Frady 4, Ogunniya 4.
Jefferson 12 15 12 20—59
Riverside 8 9 12 12—41
With their tallest player listed at 6-foot-3, the Jefferson Dragons knew they would have to find a way to combat the pair of 6-6 post players from Riverside Military Academy. The answer? Speed and intense pressure on the ball handlers.
The Dragons (9-2) executed that game plan to perfection, forcing 31 turnovers and limiting the Eagles’ (2-4) big men Brandon McKinney and Joun Ogunniya to 16 points in their 59-41 win Friday night at Curtis Hall.
“We felt like we were a little quicker,” Jefferson coach Bolling DuBose said. “We felt we had a big advantage out front because their guards weren’t as quick as ours.”
Those guards, specifically Darius Minor and Tab Martin played an integral role in harassing Riverside’s ball handlers. Martin recorded six of the team’s 17 steals, while Minor had three steals to go along with his game-high 13 points.
“We didn’t handle their press at all,” Riverside coach Matt Bohon said. “They’re athletic, well-coached and they played well tonight and we didn’t. And if we play bad at home then we’re not going to beat a good team in this region.
“Their speed outmatched our height.”
After a rough start in which both teams struggled to get things going offensively, Jefferson picked up the defensive pressure in the second quarter, forcing 11 turnovers and starting the period on a 12-0 run.
But Jefferson’s shooting woes — it shot 32-percent for the game — allowed the Eagles to keep the score close as the two teams headed to the half separated by just 10 points. But that’s as close as Riverside would get.
A Chris Beck 3-pointer capped a 6-0 run to start the third quarter and increased the Dragons’ lead to 16. Sophomore Josh Davis (12 points) answered with four straight points, and combined with the inside play of McKinney (12 points, 10 rebounds), the Eagles remained down by 10 entering the fourth quarter. From then on, it was all Dragons.
Jefferson, which has now won five straight, outscored Riverside 10-2 in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, and a Minor steal and score two minutes later increased the lead to 20.
“I think a lot of those turnovers in the fourth quarter were due to fatigue,” said DuBose of his team’s nine forced turnovers in the final quarter. “If you press people and they don’t have a lot of ball handlers, then they can get tired, and I think that’s what happened tonight.”
While he wasn’t surprised that his team was able to wear down the opposing point guards, DuBose was happy to know that despite being at an obvious size disadvantage, his team was able to outrebound Riverside 37-27.
“We preach all the time to force more turnovers than we have and outrebound (the opponent),” DuBose said. “If we do those two things, we feel like we can win a lot of games.”
Jefferson will have a chance to increase its win streak to six games when it visits Franklin County at 7:30 tonight. Riverside will look to bounce back from the loss when it hosts former GISA rival North Cobb Christian at 3:30 p.m. today.