WATKINSVILLE – The Jefferson Lady Dragons saw their season come to an end Wednesday night in the first round of the Region 8-AA tournament with a 46-38 loss to Union County at North Oconee High School.
Senior Emily Jacobs led the Lady Dragons with 14 points in her final game. Skylar Evanson scored 11 points and Erin Knight added eight points for coach Jason Gibson’s squad.
Union County’s Candace Williams, who was named region player of the year, scored 16 points, while teammates Hollie Abernathy and Rebecka Merritt each scored 10 points in the win.
The Lady Dragons trailed at the half (24-17) despite hitting only 5-of-28 from the field in the first two quarters.
“I’m proud of the kids,” Gibson said following the game. “They came out and played hard. It was just one of those nights where we couldn’t seem to find the range.”
Jacobs found the range in the second half when she hit back-to-back jumpers, cutting Union County’s lead to five points (26-21).
The Lady Dragons tried to keep constant pressure on Williams, but the senior standout continued to find ways to score.
With five minutes, four seconds remaining in the third quarter she nailed a 3-pointer while being fouled, then converted the free throw to extend Union County’s lead to 32-23.
“No. 30 (Williams) is the player of the year in our region and she’s a very talented player,” Gibson said. “We chased her around all night and made her earn every point she got.”
Stephanie Fincher answered when she hit a 3-pointer for the Lady Dragons, the team’s first of the game, after starting 0-for-6 from beyond the arc.
Evanson added another 3-pointer at the 2:14 mark of the third quarter, capping off an 8-1 run by the Lady Dragons to close out the period.
Abernathy hit a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter as the Lady Dragons watched the lead grow back to five points (33-31).
Consecutive 3-pointers by the Lady Dragons pulled them to within one point with 2:09 remaining in the game, but Union County scored eight of the game’s final nine points to hold on for the win and dash the Lady Dragons hopes of making it to the state tournament.
“Basketball is a game of bounces and I thought they got a lot of those tonight,” Gibson said.