It appeared a close game was going to be in store between Morristown West and Jefferson County on Tuesday evening midway through the first quarter.
With the Patriots up two, West’s Ryan Shafer stepped in front of a pass and took it the other way for a slam to tie the game and seemingly shift all the momentum to the Trojans.
And then, the wheels fell off.
Jeff County ended the quarter on an 11-2 run and never looked back, blowing out Morristown West, 78-39.
“I felt like we were able to play 32 minutes of solid basketball,” Jeff County coach Matt Johnson said. “I thought our guys really defended well. I thought we had good shots, and we made them which makes things a little bit better.”
The Patriots were led Kobe Parker, who had 19 points, and Kawika Makua with 18 points. Kade Parker added 13.
For the Trojans, they continued their offensive struggle, failing to eclipse the 40-point marker for the fourth straight game. Shafer led all scorers with 12 points while Joey Hancock added nine and Elijah Davis had eight.
West is in a gauntlet right now coming off the holiday break having played East and Sevier County on the road and Jeff County at home. The stretch doesn’t get any easier next week as they take on a South Doyle team that defeated them 55-38 earlier in the season.
“It’s such a tough experience for these kids,” Morristown West coach Jonathan Smith said. “Normally at this point, we’ve played at least 13 games. Holiday tournaments can be a great thing because they can help build a team, but we weren’t able to play so I think that disrupted our flow. I think we are going to have to find some way to respond. We finished one round of conference play and aren’t where we want to be but who says we can’t find something to get us going in the right direction.”
It was the second straight strong showing for Jefferson County who have struggled to find consistency at times this season. The Patriots had also lost four straight heading into the contest.
For Johnson, he hopes that their close loss Friday to East and this win will help jumpstart that consistent effort.
“We have to continue to have maximum effort in practices because that is what you see on the court,” Johnson said. “I think they were stung a little bit from Friday’s loss, and I think we want to come out quickly and show what they can do.”
Jefferson County got the game started off quickly as Makua hit a shot and Kobe Parker hit a 3-pointer. However, West answered back and Shafer’s dunk tied the score at eight. But Makua took over and led Jeff County on a run to make it 19-10 after one.
The run continued in the second quarter as Morristown West got sloppy on the offensive side of the ball. Jefferson County out-scored the Trojans 17-11 and took a 38-21 lead into the half.
The third quarter was the dagger for Morristown West as they desperately tried to get back into the game. The shots were there for the Trojans, but they would not go down as Jeff County out-scored them 14-6.
“I’ve told everyone that our kids are not in the wrong spot, we’re just not executing one level further,” Smith said. “You hope that you play your best basketball towards the end of the year, that’s what I have been telling them. We have an uphill climb, and I am hoping that our guys choose to do that.”
Jefferson County will be back in action on Friday, taking on Seymour for the first time this season. Morristown West, meanwhile, will have another week off after their games against Cosby were cancelled. They will take on South Doyle next Tuesday.
“We have to first figure out how to work,” Smith said. “We have to find someway to come in everyday and take everything that goes on in the outside world and put it away for a few hours and just climb into the fact that we’re not very good, but we have the chance to be better.”