No. 6 JCHS advances to D2-AAA title game
Jefferson County’s Brice Cusick (24) is defended by Morristown West’s Kenny Watson while going up for a shot in Saturday’s District 2-AAA tournament game.
DANDRIDGE — The Jefferson County Patriots have grown accustomed to winning at home and with only a few more wins in Dumplin Valley, they will reach their ultimate destination: Murfreesboro in March.
The Patriots played their first game in the district tournament Saturday night against Morristown West, and with a 59-49 victory over the Trojans, will face Sevier County in the district title game Monday night.
The Patriots will host next week’s regional tournament and if they win that, will host a substate game in a few weeks. If Jeff County plays their cards right, they will not have to leave their own gym until the state tournament.
“Tonight was a big night because it gave us home court in the regional tournament,” Jefferson County coach Chris Poore said. “That is huge because we have a great student section and a fan base that comes out to support us.”
West coach Derek Creech said he was proud of his team’s effort.
“I’ve got a bunch of fighters and they have been fighting all year,” Creech said. “We have come back on a lot of teams this year but to get behind and try to come back on the sixth-ranked team in the state is a tall order. I will take these kids and put them up against anyone because they will play their tails off.”
The Patriots move their record to 26-4 on the season. The Trojans stand at 14-13. Jon Bryant led Jeff County with 20 points. Teammate Kyle Briggs chipped in 15. Jake Logan paced the Trojans with 12 points and Logan Willis was close behind with 11 points.
The Trojans claimed an early 8-7 lead on a basket by Josh Black. But the Patriots took off on a 7-0 run to take a 14-8 lead. Jefferson County went up 17-10 at the end of the first period on a shot from Briggs
The two teams swapped baskets for the first three minutes of the second period before baskets by Briggs and Bryant gave the home team a 25-19 edge. Bryce Cusick nailed two free throws with 44 ticks left to give the Patriots a 31-25 lead at halftime.
The Patriots took control of the contest in the third period by limiting the Trojans to only two field goals. Bryant scored six points in the third frame to give Jefferson County a 46-31 lead going into the fourth.
The Trojans kept playing hard and cut the lead to 10 points at 48-38 on an old fashioned 3-point play by Darius Mathes. That would be as close as they could get in the final period as Jeff County advanced to Monday’s title game against the Smokey Bears.
“Usually our defense is a lot better,” Poore stated after the game. “That is something we hang our hat on. We had a few mishaps but overall, it was good enough to get the job done.”
Sevier County 64,Cocke County 59
Hunter Suggs exploded for 20 points in the first half for Cocke County but the Smokey Bears of Sevier County were able to rebound in the final two periods to prevail in the consolation game, 64-59.
The second half was a close affair as the two teams swapped the lead several times. The Fighting Cocks had a good look at a game-tying three pointer with 18 seconds left but it rimmed out.
Suggs led all scorers as he finished with 23 for Cocke County. Kordell Stewart added 10 in the losing effort. Sevier County was paced by Jacob Whaley’s 19 points. Cody Underwood had 14 for the Smokey Bears.
- By Marlin Curnutt, Tribune Correspondent