For the second time this season and fourth time in two years, the East Jessamine boys’ basketball team defeated rival West Jessamine. On Friday, night the Jaguars (20-4 overall, 5-0 district) beat the Colts (15-10, 3-2) at West, 71-60.
West controlled the game for much of the first quarter, leading by as many as five points thanks to some good distribution on offense. Chase Fain, Robby Irgang, and Jeff Ziemann all scored baskets in the final minutes of the quarter to help West go on a 7-0 run and take a 13-8 lead. A pair of free throws by East’s Cameron Thomas made the score 13-10 after the first period.
“I was pleased with how hard we played, but East is pretty good, and we’re going to have to execute extremely well to give ourselves a chance to win against them,” West Jessamine coach Damon Kelley said. “I just didn’t feel like tonight our execution (was good enough).”
The Colts were feeling the Jags’ defensive pressure as East forced six turnovers, that led to six points and had five second-chance opportunities on the offensive end, that turned into four points.
“In the first half, even when we had the lead, we were giving up way too many offensive rebounds,” Kelley said.
East tied the game at 17-17 three minutes into the second quarter on a three-pointer by Timmy Bradshaw. However, West did not allow the East offense to gather momentum as it responded with baskets by Heath Jackson and Daulton Peters.
Down 21-17, East began to make its move. Michael Rexroat, who suffered a severe sprain in his right ankle a week before at Mercer County, made his first three-pointer of the night at the 3:05 mark. A basket by Cody Collins 90 seconds before halftime tied the game at 22-22. Collins sank a pair of free throws on East’s next possession to give the Jags their first lead since the midway point of the first quarter.
“I thought we did a much better job in the second and third quarter. I thought we had mental lapses early on that I was kind of surprised we had,” East Jessamine coach Chris O’Bryan said. “... About halfway through the first quarter, they started to turn it around, and then obviously the second quarter was a great quarter — defensively and offensively.”
Jackson made a two-pointer for West to tie the game again, but back-to-back three-pointers by Rexroat and Bradshaw gave East a six-point lead at half, 30-24.
“That was huge because we controlled 14 of the first 16 minutes — exactly how we wanted the game to be played. Even though we were making a lot of mistakes, were still in control,” Kelley said.
“(Bradshaw’s shot) was a huge momentum builder for us,” O’Bryan said.
Rexroat, who did not start, finished the night with 12 points. Bradshaw scored 10 points and collected six rebounds.
East’s defensive pressure remained high; it forced nine turnovers for 10 of its 20 points.
The treys for East seemed to give the Jags all the momentum and confidence heading into the second half. They continued to pull away during the third quarter, leading by as many as 15 points.
At the 2:03 mark, senior CJ Boyd converted on a pair of free throws to give East a 47-32 lead. Boyd was getting it done on both ends of the floor for the Jaguars. The point guard had a team-high five assists and a team-high eight rebounds. He also forced three steals and added 13 points.
East led 49-37 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Colts, who needed to win by 19 points in order to secure the No. 1 seed in the district tournament, trailed by double digits throughout most of the fourth quarter. East held its largest lead of the night during the fourth quarter — 16 points.
During the final minute, West went on a small run, and a three-pointer by Jackson made it a 69-60 game with 24 seconds remaining.
West got no closer as Tashan Hairston hit a shot with 12 seconds remaining to give East an 11-point win.
Hairston, who played less than three minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, ended up being the Jaguars leading scorer for the night with 16 points in 17 minutes.
Collins scored 12 points and collected five rebounds.
Fain, Jackson, and Ziemann each played 32 minutes for the Colts. Fain, who has been banged up for much of the season, scored a team-high 19 points, collected nine rebounds and dished out four assists. Jackson contributed 13 points.
Peters recorded a double-double for West with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
“I thought we did a good job on (Peters). We didn’t give him many open looks on the outside, and he never really got going, and that was kind of key for us,” O’Bryan said.
West was able to shoot the ball at a much higher percentage than East — 52 percent to 36 percent — but the Jaguars took 71 shots, 26 of which were beyond the arc. East won the turnover battle, forcing 26 and committing just five.
“We’ve got a good team, but we’re not good enough against them to make so many mental mistakes and still have a chance to win,” Kelley said.
The win gives East Jessamine the No. 1 seed at the District 46 tournament at Mercer County later this month. It also runs East’s win streak to nine games overall and four games against West, the longest streak against its rival since the 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons when East won five in a row over the Colts.