BELIEVE IT or not, Jefferson coach Bolling DuBose prefers that his team is closing the regular season on the road.
Playing at home can at times be too comfortable. Life on the road is more pressure-packed — exactly what his Dragons will face at the region tournament, the coach said.
Jefferson (16-8, 10-1) takes on crosstown rival Jackson County (6-15, 3-8) Friday in what DuBose expects to be a charged atmosphere at the Panthers’ gym.
“It’s almost going to be like a playoff game,” DuBose said. “It’s a game that we’ve got to win.”
The Dragons lost sole possession of first-place in Region 8-AA South with a 68-60 loss to Elbert County Friday. Had Jefferson won that game, it would have clinched the South division. Instead, Jefferson’s game with Jackson County — rivalry aside —is ultra important in determining the subregion winner.
The fact that Jackson County is hosting Senior Night Friday will only add to the atmosphere.
“Jackson County will have a big crowd, and it’s a big rivalry anyway,” DuBose said.
If the Dragons prevail and Elbert County (16-7, 10-1) loses to Hart County Friday, the subregion championship and that no. 1 seed at the region tournament belongs to Jefferson.
If Jefferson and Elbert County both win (and have 11-1 records), a coin flip – which is the third tiebreaker —will decide the no. 1 seed.
If both teams lose Friday, the second tiebreaker — Jefferson and Elbert County’s record against the third-place team in the subregion (Hart County) — will determine the champion. Jefferson swept Hart County (with one win coming via forfeit) and Elbert County would split with Hart County.
Of course, if Jefferson loses and Elbert County wins, the Dragons are the no. 2 seed for the Region 8-AA tournament.
So plenty will be riding on Friday’s game. DuBose feels that pressure will only help his team.
“I’m glad of that,” DuBose said.
Jefferson will receive a first-round bye at the region tournament regardless of what happens Friday. The Dragons have Monday off when the Region 8-AA boys’ tournament starts at East Hall.
If the Dragons earn a no. 1 seed, they face the winner of the no. 4 North vs. No. 5 South pairing Wednesday. If the Dragons are a second seed, they play the winner of the no. 3 North vs. No. 6 South winner Wednesday. The region semifinals and finals are at Hart County Feb. 17-18.
“We’re just trying to take it one game at a time,” DuBose said. “I know that sounds cliché, but I think we have learned that if we play like we can, we can play with anybody in the region. At the same time, if we don’t, then there’s nobody in the region that can’t beat us. We can’t have an off-night at any time.”