It wasn't a 54-19 dismantling like last time but good enough to keep Jefferson’s winning ways intact.
Behind a big second half, Jefferson (10-5, 3-1) disposed of rival Commerce 57-40 Saturday in the rematch between the two schools for its fourth win in a row.
“I thought our kids played really well in the second half,” coach Jason Gibson said. “I think it was (us outscoring them) 30-10 in the second half, and we’re obviously very proud of that.”
Skylar Evanson, who finished with 17 points, hit a game-tying three-pointer to open the second half as Jefferson outscored Commerce 16-3 in the third quarter and overcame a sluggish first half.
Kellie Goza added 15 points and Bailey Boyd finished with 12.
Jefferson trailed 30-27 at the half but surrendered only three field goals in the second half as the Lady Dragons frustrated the Lady Tigers on their new gym dedication night.
Gibson credited a renewed focus before the start of the second half.
“We kind of went in at halftime and said let’s evaluate what’s happening right here,” Gibson said. “They’re shooting the ball really well, but we’re not guarding them. We’ve got to get some defensive pressure. We’ve got to get some intensity back. We don’t get out-hustled in the second half and let’s just go out and do what we do. Let’s play Lady Dragon basketball for 16 minutes and get after them.”
Commerce made things interesting for the first 16 minutes. Playing inspired basketball after a 35-point beating at the hands of Jefferson last time, the Lady Tigers hit three three-pointers in the first quarter and led 15-12 heading into the second period.
“Coach (Eddie) McCurley does an outstanding job,” Gibson said. “We knew they were going to be really pumped up for this game and we told our kids, ‘they’re going to throw in some shots. They may hit seven or eight three-pointers. Who knows?’ We had to be prepared to take their best shot.”
Jefferson overtook Commerce with a three-pointer from Kellie Goza to go up 17-15, but the Lady Tigers reclaimed the lead at 27-25 with 1:47 left in the first half with a basket and a three-pointer from Jasmine Grier. Grier led the Lady Tigers with 15 points.
Then the Lady Dragons took over in the second half. Gibson pointed to his team’s defensive play.
“We did force some turnovers, but more than anything else, we guarded them in the half court and we got some hands up on the shots and we were able to rebound the ball and get a little transition and we created some easy buckets.”
Jefferson was coming off a 71-15 walloping of lowly Oglethorpe County Friday night during which the Lady Dragons led 25-0 after one quarter.
Jakeia Wilson led Jefferson with 11 points. Thirteen different players scored in the Lady Dragons’ most lopsided victory of the year.
NOTE: The Lady Dragons’ Tuesday game with Elbert County was cancelled due to recent winter storm weather.