JEFFERSON came one quarter shy of scoring another quality non-win region.
The Dragons (3-3) fell 79-69 to Class AAA Johnson Tuesday after leading for most of the game.
“I thought we played really well for three quarters,” coach Bolling DuBose said.
Jefferson led 50-48 after three but Johnson standout Matt Hollis hit two deep three’s to key an 8-0 run to start the fourth quarter.
Hollis finished with 32 points on the night with six three-pointers.
“We didn’t play great defense, but we didn’t play horrible defense either,” DuBose said.
Johnson was able to salt away the victory by converting 12-of-13 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter. Hollis was 8-for-8 at the foul line in the final period.
Johnson also got 21 points from Ty Odem and a triple double from Montrell McKenzie, who had 14 points. His night included 10 blocked shots.
Meanwhile, Austin Thompson and Will Puckett both scored 13 points to lead the Dragons, while Andre Daniel added 12.
Before playing Johnson, Jefferson fell Saturday to Rabun County, 70-55, as it got a sneak preview of an 8-AA North team it may see again during the post season.
DuBose said his Dragons did a good job of containing standout Tanner Plemmons, who scored just 15 points, but let too many others get hot. Five different Rabun County players scored in double figures. Chan Patterson led Rabun County with 22 points.
“I think the fact that they had five guys in double figures lets you know we didn’t play well defensively,” DuBose said.
Thompson led the Dragons with 12 points while Jeshua Kidd added 10.
Jefferson led 17-16 after a quarter but trailed 35-33 at the half after Rabun County hit a fall-away three-pointer at the buzzer.
“I really thought we were in good shape,” DuBose said. “We were playing good defensively … Offensively, we were getting the shots we wanted.”
But in the third quarter the Dragons watched Patterson hit four three’s as Rabun County outscored Jefferson 24-16 in the period.
“That’s when the game turned,” DuBose said. “The third quarter, defensively, I thought we played poor.”
The coach said his team — which had football players who didn’t participate in the preseason — didn’t have the basketball conditioning of Rabun County, though he said that’s not an excuse. “We’re still obviously still a work in progress as far as getting our guys in shape,” DuBose said.
Jefferson doesn’t have another regular season date with Rabun County but could run into the Wildcats in the region tournament.
“We’ll learn from playing them this time,” he said.
Jefferson was coming off one of its most solid performances of the early season, beating Winder-Barrow 57-45 Friday.
The team got a season-high 13 points from Kidd and 11 more from Thompson.
Kidd, who nailed three three-pointers, scored 10 of his 13 in the first half, as the Dragons built a 27-19 lead at intermission.
“I did think that Jeshua Kidd played really well offensively,” DuBose said.
Thompson scored all 11 of his points in the second half.
“He’s going to start shooting it better than he’s been shooting it,” DuBose said.
Jefferson led by as much as 16 in the fourth quarter as the Dragons beat a Class AAAA team for the second time this year.
Bryant Shirreffs came off the bench and added nine points.
DuBose thought Jefferson did a good job of not allowing any other Bulldoggs, besides the top two scorers, to get into their offensive rhythm.
“Defensively, we played a really good ball game,” he said.