By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Jefferson boys lose in state semifinals
Jefferson's J.J. Damons soars to the basket for two of his team-high 22 points Friday at the Macon Centreplex. The Dragons lost to the Bulldogs 69-43 ending their bid for a state title.
MACON — Jefferson coach Bolling Dubose said it best Friday evening following his team’s 69-43 loss to Thomasville in the Class AA boys semifinals at the Macon Centreplex.

“Obviously you want to win the state championship but as I tell the kids every year, if you look at it as the only way you’re going to have a successful season, there’s only going to be one team each year to have a successful season in the whole state,”
Dubose said. “Anytime you win a region championship and get to the Final Four, it’s a great season. I couldn’t be more proud of the kids.”

Senior J.J. Damons led the Dragons (25-7) with 22 points. Darius Minor, also wearing a Jefferson uniform for the final time, was held to five points in the loss.

“I think we’ve had better teams during my three years,” Damons said. “But this group has played together for so long that we knew what everyone was doing on the court and we were able to be successful this season. It just didn’t work out for us tonight.”

One of the Dragons biggest challenges was how to deal with the Bulldogs (24-4) obvious height advantage. Sophomores Willie
Clayton who stands 6-7, and Robert Carter at 6-8, scored 23 and 10 points respectively, and had their way on the boards as they took advantage of second-chance opportunities around the basket.

“We knew we had to get on the defensive boards and not let them have second and third shots,” Dubose said. “The longer the game went, the more they took advantage on the boards. We kept rotating guys in but they kind of wore us out. Clayton is a
great player and was just relentless around the boards.”

Dubose reiterated that he was pleased with the overall effort his team put forth despite the final result, although it may not have been the Dragons best performance of the season.

“I thought our kids battled today,” Dubose said. “We didn’t play nearly as well as we’ve been playing but they had a lot to do with that. We said before the game that we would have to take care of the ball. That’s something we didn’t do a good job of tonight.”

Damons mixed it up inside with the two Bulldogs giants, but as one of his team’s taller players at 6-2, the Dragons really had no answer inside, yet they refused to back down as they were able to cut the Bulldogs lead to seven at halftime (34-27) thanks to an 11-4 run to close out the period.

“I’m 6-2 and I was just trying to play on the same level as they were,” Damons said. “There’s no need to be scared of anybody but just go play ball and if they block it, just go back at them again.”

With the loss, the Dragons saw their 18-game win streak come to an end as well. Damons said that was just one of many highlights during the Dragons run to the semifinals.

“It was a great ride this year,” Damons said. “Just thinking about the buzzer-beaters and winning the region title. Those were all great moments I won’t forget.”

“I thought early in the game we did a good job where we had a stretch where we let them extend the lead out to 14 points. Then we calmed down and were able to cut it back down before the half.”

Thomasville took control of the game in the third quarter after Carter drained a free-throw to cap off a 4-point play and give the Bulldogs a 43-29 lead at the 4:57 mark. “We talked at halftime about the first five minutes of the second half being huge for us,” Dubose said. “If we could keep it down around five going into the fourth quarter we figured we’d be in good shape. We really got sloppy with the ball and that turned the game around.

Carter’s points were part of a 13-2 Bulldogs run that ended with a layup by Minor (47-31), giving him his only basket of the second half.

“Coming out I felt confident,” Minor said. “There was a little nervousness but it’s that way for me every game. I thought as a team we were a bit intimidated tonight. We still fought as best as we could have. I think the turnovers hurt us more than anything.

"Once we got the lead back down to seven, we had a shot but there’s nothing we can do about it now. We still had a heck of a season.”
Friends to Follow social media