Jefferson Defeats White Oak in Close Call, 53-47
WHITE OAK -- Lyrik Rawls sent the ball flying into the stands as the Jefferson crowd roared in elation.
It was a big moment for the Bulldogs, who were trying to close out a victory against White Oak and remain undefeated in district play on Friday night. If Rawls hadn't been there, Kason Kenzie's 3-pointer could have fallen through, cutting the Bulldog lead with plenty of time for the Roughnecks to mount a comeback.
Instead, White Oak settled for a two from Kenzie after the inbound and Jefferson went on to gain the victory, 53-47.
"(To win) was huge," Jefferson coach Treston Dowell said. "You were looking at maybe having to have a playoff game with them if we didn't win here. These guys hadn't beat White Oak (on the road) until last year, so this is huge for our school."
Jefferson entered the third quarter with a 39-29 lead, but White Oak's 3-pointers started to fall. Andrew Hood took over, nailing three 3s in the second half (four overall) to bring the Roughnecks back within as many as four points.
However, Jefferson (19-5, 9-0 District 8-3A Division I) had a takeover of its own brewing. Eric Gipson finished with 13 points, but seven of them came in the final quarter. He found lanes, drove to the basket for layups and got to the free throw line to become a nuisance for White Oak's defense.
Dowell had a message for his team when trying to close out the game.
"I just told them to keep doing what we had been," he said. "Stay the course. We were rushing a lot at the beginning of the game early in the second quarter. I told them to slow down. We had mismatches all over the floor. I told them to slow down and try to exploit them. We got some screen and roll action and were able to throw it back into (Gipson) and get some baseline drives."
The 3-point shot was there all night for White Oak (14-8, 6-2), which hit nine total. When the Roughnecks caught fire at the beginning of the fourth quarter, all signs pointed to a comeback. However, the Bulldogs started to close out on shooters and the triples stopped falling for the Roughnecks.
"I started doing a little offense-defense with some guys I had on the bench who play really good defense," Dowell said. "I tried to bring in guys who were good defenders and can stay in front of the ball so they couldn't drive and kick it for those 3s."
Dee Mitchell was the leading scorer for Jefferson, with 15 points. Taylor Smith led the way on the boards, pulling down nine. The Bulldogs outrebounded White Oak 36-24. Hood led the Roughnecks with 20 points, while Seth Garcie came off the bench to score 12, all of which came on 3s in the first half.
New Diana will be Jefferson's next opponent in a game that will take place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Jefferson. Meanwhile, the Roughnecks will get a chance to bounce back when they face East Texas Christian at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Longview.