ORE CITY -- Treston Dowell had to laugh when asked how his team managed to get out of the 13-point hole it created for itself in the first five minutes of Tuesday's important showdown at Ore City.

Not only did Jefferson overcome a tidal wave of negative momentum in the first quarter, it had the lead by the 6:43 mark of the second period. And it won the contest in grand fashion, 73-53, for first place in the District 16-3A standings near the midway point of the league schedule.

"Those guys came out red hot," Dowell said. "They hit every 3-pointer and caught us on our heels early. We just had to start changing the defense. Put a little pressure on them and speed them up. They missed some 3s, which helped us out, we got some baskets and finally fought our way back into it."

Rebels guard Joe Campbell gets away a 3-point attempt over Jefferson's Cameron Hicks. Campbell scored eight treys in his side's loss toward 26 total points.

Ore City (16-9, 5-1) entered its home game with a lot to prove. It was unbeaten in district play and clearly wanted to make a statement to the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches voters against the 23rd-ranked Bulldogs.

An unranked versus ranked upset bid took real life when senior wing Wesley Chilton knocked down a long jumper for a 15-2 lead just ahead of the three-minute mark of the opening period. The Rebels were shooting 55 percent from the floor and had three 3-pointers from junior guard Joe Campbell.

Jefferson (16-7, 6-0) took two timeouts ahead of Chilton's statement bucket. Compounding the problem were five turnovers, including an over-and-back call right after winning the tipoff.

Yet a factor in the Bulldogs' ranking is the presence of Dowell. He was the head coach at Avinger last season, finished his career there with the Class A state championship trophy in hand and gave his new program some instant credibility.

Dowell largely abandoned man-to-man defense in favor of the 2-3 zone and dared Ore City to keep shooting 55 percent from outside the paint.

Jefferson finished the last three minutes of the period on a 10-2 run. The Bulldogs then opened the second quarter on a 10-0 run for a 22-17 advantage and never gave up the edge.

Ore City trailed 34-24 at halftime and were 10 more points off the lead at the final buzzer in spite of an eighth 3-point score by Joe Campbell with no time remaining. It fell from 55 percent shooting at the game's outset to 18-for-49.

Dowell's squad ultimately won the battle for offensive rebounds to the tune of 19 second-chance points to the Rebels' 10 and shot 17-of-24 from the free throw line whereas Ore City only got 14 free throw opportunities and shot exactly 50 percent.

"This was two 5-0 teams in district, so the win is huge," Dowell said. "It's my first year here, and I wanted to come in and do something special here. I'm blessed in that my first-year group is really special. This is a big step in the right direction for what we want to do, which is win the district."

Three players finished in double digits for Jefferson. All of them were juniors.

Small forward Grayson Early scored a team-best 26 points. Point guard Dee Mitchell recorded 22 points and eight assists. Shooting guard Cameron Hicks tallied 11 points off the bench.

Campbell scored a team-best 26 points for Ore City. Chilton rounded out all double-digit scorers with 12 points.

A consolation prize for the Rebels, they own second place in the district standings. The other six district teams have two or more losses, largely because four of the six have played both Ore City and Jefferson.

Friday marks the end of the first of two circuits around the district. Ore City will visit Waskom while Jefferson simultaneously plays host to Beckville.

The Rebels and Bulldogs will meet once again Feb. 10 in Jefferson.

"It's just good to get the win," Dowell said. "The good thing is the toughest games will come to Jefferson next round. We're feeling pretty good right now. We're going to savor this one for tonight, have some fun with it and go back to work tomorrow."

Treston Dowell is now 16-7 overall with the No. 23 Bulldogs.

No. 23 Jefferson 73, Ore City 53

District 16-3A
At Ore City High School

Jefferson              12       19      26     16     --   73
Ore City               17        7       21       8      --  53
Jefferson (16-7, 6-0)-- Grayson Early 26, Dee Mitchell 22, Cameron Hicks 11, Kepha Luster 4, Maurice Rudd 4, Curtis Henry 2, Tanner Murphy 2, Kylan Thomas 2.
Ore City (16-9, 5-1) -- Joe Campbell 26, Wesley Chilton 12, Nick Hughes 9, Keylan Bowens 5, Cartea Douglas 1.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Jefferson: Early (2), Mitchell (2). Ore City: Campbell (8), Bowens, Hughes.