By SETH BUCKNER
The Friday night before Christmas turned into a Bulldog block party led by Chrishon Hicks. Hicks finished with six blocks and he could tell about every one of them after the game. Defense was key on a night that Jefferson struggled mightily at the free throw line, and Haden Crowley of Tatum couldn’t miss from anywhere. Crowley finished with 27 point and five three pointers, making several shots with Jefferson defenders right on him. In spite of those obstacles Jefferson prevailed 61-57 in a key district match-up. The Bulldogs are now 9-4, while The Eagles fall to 6-7.
Tatum started sharp but after a time-out by Jefferson the game evened out. Neither team led by more than six and the game had six ties and thirteen lead changes. The Eagles pressed the entire game, and it caused some problems for the Bulldogs. Hot three point shooting carried Jefferson in the first, with Lyrik Rawls hitting one, and Josh Thomas hitting two, including a three at the end of the quarter, putting the Dawgs ahead 19-18.
Both teams were in the bonus quickly in the second quarter, but neither squad fared especially well on free throws, especially the Bulldogs. “Free throw shooting has been our achilleas heel so far this season.” Coach Treston Dowell said after the game. Several times Jefferson players missed both free throws, so the Dawgs could not pull away, and the half ended deadlocked at 33-33.
Jefferson started the second half with a 6-0 run, leading to a Tatum timeout. The Eagles answered with a 7-0 run, taking a 40-39 lead. The full-court press by both teams caused trouble for both offenses. Christian Shepard picked up his fourth foul with 5:12 to go in the quarter, causing him to sit much of the quarter. With Jefferson trailing 43-41, Hicks had a huge block which led to a lay-up for the Bulldogs to tie the score. The Dawgs led 48-47 going into the final period.
Foul trouble played a part in the final quarter causing Jefferson to switch to a zone defense. Tatum also had plenty of foul trouble, with the Eagles Fuller fouling out with 6:23 to go, and Allison followed him to the bench with 3:10 left. Jefferson had several chances to put the game away, but charity strip misses kept the game close to the end. Jefferson finished 10-31 from the line, including missing four straight in the closing seconds. A big basket by Lyrik Rawls with under 30 seconds left sealed the game. The final horn sounded fittingly after a block shot of the Eagles Haden Crowley. Josh Thomas scored 15 points for the Bulldogs, Lyrik Rawls 13, Chrishon Hicks 9, Jakardan Davidson 6, Kevin Pinson 6, Kylan Thomas 4, and Dee Black 3.
Next up for the Dawgs is the Houston County Tournament starting December 27.
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