JEFFERSON CITY — Going into the locker room at the end of the first half, Jefferson County had to feel relieved.
Falling behind 24-8 after the first quarter, the Patriots fought back to cut the lead to seven by the end of the first half. While JCHS had struggled to stop Abiah Releford and the Indians in the opening quarter, the Patriots finally seemed to find the secret to stopping the offense.
But then, as quickly as they had the momentum, the Patriots lost it in the blink of an eye.
Releford scored 38 points in the game, while Dobyns-Bennett totaled 51 in the second half as they cruised by Jefferson County in an 86-51 win at Jefferson County High School.
“They were more physical and took it to us on both ends of the floor,” Jeff County coach Matt Johnson said. “We weren’t prepared for that. I thought we played a lot of the first quarter on our heels. They set the tone early.
Releford hit eight 3-pointers in the game and capped off his performance with a three in the fourth quarter from just a few steps past half court. Tommy Griffin led the scoring for the Patriots with 13 while Braxton Chaney and Jacob Thompson each had eight.
The game didn’t start well for Jeff County as D-B went up 16-1 early.
Jahson Dennis set the tone when he reached over a Jefferson County defender and slammed the ball through the hoop for an alley-oop. Griffin had four of the eight points in the quarter for the Pats.
However, the Patriots began to chip away in the second. It started with four straight free throws for the Patriots. Seven players for JCHS scored in the quarter, and Thompson hit a shot with one second left to make it a seven-point game.
“In the second quarter, we started playing the way we are capable of playing,” Johnson said. “We stopped playing on our heels and attacked more. We cut it to seven, but there were still some costly turnovers where the game could have been closer going into halftime.”
The third quarter started with a three-point play from Releford on a layup and foul shot. Dobyns-Bennett reeled off a 12-5 run, including back-to-back threes from Releford. Despite the run, the Patriots weren’t out of it going into the fourth quarter, trailing by just 13.
But that’s when the bottom fell out. D-B scored 34 points in the final frame and held Jefferson County to 12 points. The Indians hit eight 3-pointers in the quarter, with four of them coming from Releford and two coming from Malachi Hale.
“They made a lot of threes, but we have to do a better job because at some point you have to stop letting them shoot threes,” Johnson said. “You have to get up and make them drive to the basket. Some of the shots were tough, but there were a lot of them where we just gave them too much space.”
The Patriots will be back in action next Friday when they take on Morristown East. Tip-off for the boys game is set for 7:30 p.m.
“We can’t win when we give up 80-plus points,” Johnson said. “We probably can’t win when we give up 70 points. We have to get much better defensively moving forward.”