By Jonathan Stark
11:31 AM EST, December 26, 2012
East Jessamine went to Berea last week and came back with three wins in just two days as the Jags (10-3) won the People’s Bank Classic at Madison Southern.
After defeating South Laurel and Buckhorn in pool play on Friday, East faced host school Madison Southern Saturday afternoon in the championship. Southern beat Sayre and Letcher County Central in pool play.
The Jaguars were led by Ronnie Carson’s 25 points in their 67-64 victory over Madison Southern. Mike Jones added 15 points, and Timmy Bradshaw scored 14.
East Jessamine has won five games in a row — its best run of the season — and will compete in the Lake Cumberland Hoops Classic Dec. 28-30.
East Jessamine 74
Senior Taylor Harper sank a layup with 6:20 remaining in the third quarter to give East Jessamine a 48-18 lead as it looked like the Jags’ dismantling of Buckhorn would continue for the rest of the night. But 12 minutes of game play later, East’s 30-point lead had evaporated and the Wildcats were nipping at the Jags’ heels 68-58.
“We lost focus. If you don’t concentrate and don’t pay attention to what’s going on (you can lose a 30-point lead),” East Jessamine coach Chris O’Bryan said. “Mentally, we have to be tough for 32 minutes and we haven’t done that.”
Following a brilliant second quarter in which East outscored Buckhorn 29-7, the Jags lost focus in the third and fourth quarters.
Right after the margin hit 30 points, Buckhorn went on a 11-0 run to cut the lead to 19.
Timmy Bradshaw was able knock down a pair of free throws to end the East drought that lasted six minutes.
Despite the rally, East held a 54-33 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
East was able to maintain the 20-point lead through the first four minutes of the fourth quarter as Hayden Smith buried a three in the corner and Harper sank four free throws in a row, but the Wildcats weren’t beat yet. They outscored East 15-5 over the next two minutes to pull within 10 points.
Harper was East’s saving grace again, hitting two more free throws with 1:47 remaining in the game.
Ronnie Carson had a late driving basket, he finished with 10 points.
Harper, who finished with 27 points, had 17 in the first half. He opened the game hitting a three-pointer, and East took the first quarter 13-8.
“We weren’t focused at the start; we were focused for eight or nine minutes in the second and start of third quarter and made a good run,” O’Bryan said.
In the second period, East really began to click on both sides of the ball. Senior Kameren Reed came off the bench for seven points.
Following a bucket by Reed with 4:47 to play before halftime, Buckhorn burned a timeout down 21-11. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Carson stole the ball and got fouled on a shot attempt. He hit both attempts to make it a 13-point game.
East Jessamine closed the first half on a 15-0 run, during which Harper scored 10 points. His last two baskets both came after steals.
Bradshaw finished with 13 points for East; Reed had nine.
“Our schedule isn’t getting any easier, and if we don’t learn how to play for 32 minutes, we’re not going to beat a lot of those teams,” O’Bryan said.