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High school basketball: Jefferson vs. Callaway preview capsule
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Jefferson vs. Callaway

When: 8:30 tonight

Where: Northwest Georgia Trade Center, Dalton

Records: Jefferson (24-6); Callaway (20-7)

Seeds: Jefferson No. 1 Region 8-AA; Callaway No. 1 Region 5-AA

Coaches: Jefferson, Bolling DuBose. Callaway, Greg Moultrie.

Key players: Jefferson, PG Darius Minor (6-0, Sr.); PF J.J. Damons (6-2, Sr.); C Andrew Bartek (6-1, So.). SF Quantavius Leslie (6-3, Sr.); SG David Rutledge (5-11, Sr.); SG Quan Bray (5-9, Jr.).

Outlook: The Dragons are in the quarterfinals for the first time since 1997, and looking for their first bid to the final four since a Class A semifinal berth in 1983. Entering the quarterfinals, Jefferson is riding a 17-game winning streak during a season it went 18-0 in region play.

Jefferson’s legacy this season is pretty clear: It’s been an able to win the close ones.

The Dragons won their second-round playoff game 58-56, by holding off a 26-point fourth-quarter by Westminster. Entering the fourth quarter, the Dragons held a 13-point lead and looked to be coasting.

Jefferson’s first-round playoff win against Manchester was just as much of a nail-biter with a 68-67 win at Jefferson. The Dragons didn’t take the lead in that game until the final seconds.

The Region 8-AA title game, which gave the Dragons the top seed for the playoffs, was a 58-57 win against Riverside Military. Jefferson also trailed that contest for most of the game.

DuBose credits that ability to stay the course during the tough games to a tough non-region schedule.

“Our kids are so used to the close games,” DuBose said. “They’ve reacted well in pressure situations.”

Minor is leading Jefferson with 17 points, six rebounds and four assists per game. Damons is second in scoring with 16 points and a team-high 14 rebounds. Against Callaway, DuBose said one of the keys is to have another player step up and score 10-12 points.

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