When it came down to it, Jefferson simply couldn't afford a cold shooting night if it hoped to pull off a stunner against no. 1-ranked Greater Atlanta Christian in the Elite Eight.
The Dragons (26-6) certainly produced an inspired effort, but the shooting was another matter in a 60-47 loss Thursday at home to the Spartans (31-0).
"I thought we played really, really hard, which I knew we would," Jefferson coach Bolling DuBose said. "We did not shoot the ball well. Some of that, inside around the basket, was because of them -- because they're so long and they're so physical and they block shots. We did miss some three's from guys that I think would normally make them."
Playing in front of a rowdy, packed home gym, Jefferson only trailed GAC — which came in ranked in the top 20 nationally — 29-21 late in the first half. But the Spartans scored the last seven points of the second quarter, taking a 36-21 advantage at the break, and the Dragons only converted three shots from the floor during the first 13:49 of the second half. By that time, Jefferson trailed by 21.
"You're in a hole against the no. 1 team in the state, it's hard to come back," DuBose said. "But our kids never quit. They just kept fighting, so I was proud of them."
The Dragons hit four three-pointers late to cut into GAC's lead but there simply wasn't enough time left to close the gap.
"We just needed to hit some shots in the middle of the game, and we didn't do it," DuBose said.
Three Jefferson players — Satchel Turpin, Tay Taylor and Roc Young — scored 12 points each to pace the Dragons who were making their first Elite Eight appearance in four years.
Four Greater Atlanta Christian players scored in double figures — including Justin Lewis who poured in 22 points — as the Spartans pushed on to the Final Four.
"They're a great team," DuBose said. "They're not no. 1 in the state for no reason."
For more coverage of Jefferson's run in the state tournament, see the March 5 issue of The Jackson Herald.