There will be no Final Four appearance for the Jefferson girls' basketball team but plenty to remember fondly from the season.
The Lady Dragons (21-10) lost to no. 2 Wesleyan 64-33 at home Wednesday, bringing their season to a close in the Elite Eight. This is the furthest the Jefferson girls' program has advanced since the 2005-2006 team reached the Final Four.
"I'm very proud of where we are," coach Jason Gibson said. "We finished in the Elite Eight. That is an accomplishment for our kids."
Abbie Franklin scored 16 points to pace Jefferson, which was coming off a 44-33 win over Manchester.
"I thought Abbie did a great job handling the basketball and handling the pressure," Gibson said.
But the coach said the other guards struggled against the Lady Wolves' defense.
"I mean, we did OK, but (we had) too many easy passes that they stole and laid up," Gibson said.
Jefferson, seeking its eighth straight win, stayed within striking range for the first half, trailing 31-20 at the break. An 11-0 Wesleyan run over a 2:52 span in the first quarter was the difference between the two teams at intermission.
"I really felt the score was a lot closer than an 11-point margin at halftime," Gibson said.
But Jefferson committed consecutive turnovers to start the second half and went on to miss six of its first seven shots.
"We just never regained our composure from that," said Gibson, whose team ended up trailing 49-28 heading into the fourth.
Wesleyan closed the game with a 15-3 run.
"Their athleticism and their height, it wore us down over the course of the game," Gibson said. "They're a great basketball team. I'm really proud of our kids for battling. Hopefully, we can come back and learn from this and grow and be better prepared to play this type of team next year."
For more coverage of Jefferson's run in the state tournament, see the March 5 issue of The Jackson Herald.