THE JEFFERSON boys advancing on in the state basketball tournament will hinge largely on how they handle their opening-round opponent’s size.
North Murray (21-9), the no. 3 seed out of Region 7-AA, features 6’7” center Zach Vess and another 6’4” player. The two teams tip-off Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Jefferson’s gym.
“First of all, I’m concerned about us keeping them off the offensive boards,” Jefferson coach Bolling DuBose said. “I think that’s going to be one big key is to not let them have a bunch of second and third shots.”
North Murray also likes to run with the ball. The Mountaineers’ top scorer, Tyler Duckett, is a combo guard capable of producing points in bunches and in different ways.
“He’s not just a perimeter shooter,” DuBose said. “He can shoot the ball really well outside but he’s really, really good at attacking the basket and putting it on the floor. So he’s hard do defend because he’s not a one-dimensional kid.”
North Murray, coming off a 51-48 win over Calhoun in the Region 7-AA consolation finals, is only a second-year school. But the Mountaineers don’t operate like a second-year program.
“When you split schools sometimes they’ll let all the athletes that had been at the old school stay there,” DuBose said. “I don’t believe they did that. They’ve really got a good basketball team.”
Based out of Chatsworth in the northwest portion of the state, North Murray plans to travel Friday instead of making the long drive Saturday, DuBose said.
DuBose is glad his team won’t have to go anywhere.
“It’s going to be a tough first-round game,” DuBose said. “It really is. It’s good that we’ve got them here. Hopefully, that will give us an advantage.”
Jefferson is the no. 2 seed out of 8-AA after losing in the region finals, 51-43, to Dawson County Saturday. The Dragons controlled the game until the final quarter.
“I was just really, really pleased with our kids last week (during the region tournament),” DuBose said. “I thought mentally they were tough. I thought physically they were tough. We just played a poor quarter at the wrong time.”
DuBose said he hopes his team learned a lesson.
“We’re certainly going to have to play good for the whole ball game against North Murray or they’ll take advantage of it also,” DuBose said.
Ironically, of the opponents Jefferson had played this year, North Murray most closely resembles the team the Dragons just played, DuBose said.
“I think they’re a lot like Dawson, except they run with the ball,” DuBose said. “Their kids look like Dawson’s. They’re tall. They’re lanky … North Murray has more size.”