Commerce both dedicated a new gym and exacted revenge all in the course of one dominant evening.
The Tigers avenged a 74-69 Dec. 10 loss to Jefferson (6-9, 1-3) by leveling the slumping Dragons 67-46 Saturday in a game that showcased neither the drama nor energy of the first meeting.
Andre Daniel's shot is contested Friday night in Jefferson's loss to Commerce.
Commerce actually played Towns County the night before in the Tigers’ brand-new, spacious facility but chose Saturday’s meeting with long-time rival Jefferson to dedicate the new gym which is part of Commerce’s $16 million new-look campus.
And the Tigers rose to the occasion.
Commerce, the defending Region 8-A champs, set the tone with a 14-4 run to start the game en route to a 14-point halftime advantage. Jefferson whittled the lead to seven points twice in the second half but Commerce answered each Dragon run and picked up a rather anti-climatic victory.
Now, after being mired in a losing streak that spanned most of the last decade against Jefferson, the Tigers have beaten the Dragons in two out of their last four tries.
Tyler Gamble led Commerce in this latest win with 19 points, Brandon Romans added 18 and Anthony Norris finished with 16.
Only back-up center Dustin Casey reached double figures for Jefferson. He finished with 10 points.
Jefferson was coming off a terrible fourth quarter performance the night before in a 72-54 loss to Oglethorpe County.
It rebounded momentarily Saturday against the Tigers in the third quarter, cutting Commerce’s lead to 41-34 with 1:58 left in the period after back-to-back layups from Casey.
Jefferson again pulled two within seven points in the fourth quarter – 45-38 – after an Austin Thompson three-pointer but Commerce dominated the last six minutes of the contest. The Tigers scored 17 of their last 20 points from the free throw line to salt away an easy victory.
The Dragons’ Tuesday game with Elbert County was cancelled due to recent winter storm weather.
For Jefferson, the Commerce loss capped a tough five quarters of basketball for defending Region 8-AA champions.
The Dragons led Oglethorpe County 45-43 heading into the fourth quarter Friday before experiencing a disastrous final period during which it was outscored 31-11.
Tate Chesser led Jefferson with 12 points and Thompson added 10 in the Dragons’ third subregion loss.
Jefferson had to dig itself out of a hole early, trailing 24-10 after a quarter before an amazing turn around in the second stanza, outscoring the host Patriots 21-0.