By SETH BUCKNER
Jefferson High gave the favorite Atlanta High a mighty battle on Friday night in Longview. In the end, second half shots just wouldn’t fall, and the Rabbits prevailed 49-44.
Atlanta jumped out to an early lead with a three, but Lyrik Rawls made a shot to cut the lead to one. The Rabbits then scored five straight to lead 8-2.
After a JHS timeout, Jefferson went on an 8-2 run to tie the score at ten. Jefferson led 15-14 after the first quarter.
Kylan Thomas made a reverse lay-up to start the second, and the Dawgs led 17-14. Over the next few minutes, it seemed like there was a lid on the Bulldog basket. Jefferson had three different three-point shots rim out. Atlanta scored ten straight to lead 24-17.
After Coach Treston Dowell called timeout, the Bulldogs closed the half on a 10-1 run to lead 27-25 at halftime. Highlighting that run was a game-tying banked three by Dee Black. Kylan had 16 first half points to lead the Dawgs.
Unfortunately, the Dawgs were only able to make three baskets in the second half. Open shots were available, but shots were not going in the basket. Jefferson trailed 35-33 heading to the final period.
Rawls made 3-4 free throws to start the fourth, and the Bulldogs led 36-35. It would be their last lead of the game. In spite of shots not falling, with three minutes to go, the score was 41-39 with Atlanta in front.
Then came a critical sequence. Chrishon Hicks drove to the basket and had a lay-up spin around the rim and fall out. The Rabbits scooped up the rebound, raced to the other end and were fouled on a lay-up that put them up by four. They made the free throw to lead 44-39 with two minutes to go.
Jefferson called timeout but turned the ball over on the following possession. Atlanta missed a shot and fouled Chris Shepard on the rebound. Shepard calmly made two clutch free throws to cut the deficit to three with a minute to go.
Jefferson got a steal and had two open three-point shots to tie the score, but they wouldn’t go down. Atlanta then made their free throws down the stretch to put the game away.
Shepard made a three pointer at the buzzer, and that was the only shot the Bulldogs made from the field in the final period. In spite of the loss, the young Jefferson squad gave a bigger Atlanta school all that they could handle in front of a raucous crowd on a Friday night.
The Jefferson Bulldogs finishes the season at 23-9. Atlanta (30-4) advances to play Commerce, who defeated Troup 53-48.
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