Jessamine County has had its share of talented basketball teams in the last five years, but East Jessamine’s boys’ basketball team had a very special season this winter.
The Jaguars entered the year with high hopes, due in large part to a very talented group of five seniors — four of whom had helped East to a 22-8 record in 2010-’11.
With Cody Collins, Tashan Hairston, Cameron Thomas and Michael Rexroat back for their senior year, East also added in transfer CJ Boyd.
“The kids wanted to get after it, and there’s been a few teams in the past that have wanted to do that and have been that anxious and excited about getting started, and those teams that have done that have been very successful,” coach Chris O’Bryan said prior to the season.
Despite Thomas being out the first half of the season rehabing an ACL injury, the Jags got off to a fast start, winning their first six games and giving O’Bryan his 200th career win in an 82-72 win over Mercer County on Dec. 13.
East’s first loss came by 10 points at Woodford County, and it suffered a 20-point loss at the hands of Lexington Catholic at the KFC Holiday Classic. The Jags suffered back-to-back losses at the Lloyd Memorial Classic at the end of December.
Heading into 2012, East came out firing, beating Burgin by 15 and rival West Jessamine by 11 to grab district control.
East posted a 7-0 record in January and looked like the team to beat in central Kentucky. February brought six more regular-season wins and gave the Jags the No. 1 seed in the district tournament.
The Jags blasted Mercer by 32 and edged West for a third time to capture the program’s first district championship.
East brought a 16-game win streak into the region tournament and was undefeated against all region and district foes.
After a close scare against Wayne County in the first half, East beat the Cardinals by 17 to advance to the region semifinals and face Boyle County. The Rebels and Jags had met earlier in the year with East coming away with a narrow 57-55 win. But on March 5 it would be the Rebels’ turn to celebrate as they beat East Jessamine 63-57 bringing the Jaguars incredible season to an abrupt end.
East Jessamine finished with a 28-5 record overall, 16-1 in the region and 7-0 in the district. Along the way, Rexroat scored his 1,000th point and Collins was named Region 12 player of the year.
“You can’t take away from what they’ve accomplished this year. They’ve had a great year,” O’Bryan said at the end of the season. “(They) won the first district championship (and) won so many games.”