CONCEPTION JUNCTION, Mo. – The Jefferson Eagles showed again that they’re one of the most dominant teams in the state of Missouri on Thursday night in their win over the South Holt Knights. The Knights came into the game winning five of their last six, but were no match for the Eagles, who won 78-48.
“I don’t know that we were quite as sharp as we have been, but I thought our effort was pretty good,” Eagles coach Tim Jermain said. “We really struggled to keep them off the boards, they’re a really good offensive rebounding team and I thought that really helped them stay in it in the first half.”
Jefferson wasted no time putting the Knights in a deep hole. Jefferson jumped out to an early 11-4 lead in the first four minutes of the quarter. South Holt used a quick 5-0 run with baskets from Dylan Schuetz and Drew Quinlin to pull within three. Dalton Luke pushed the lead back out to five with a 2-pointer, but a Reagan Morris 3-pointer made it 13-11 at the end of the first quarter.
After combining for just 24 points in the first quarter, the two teams scored 41 points in the game’s second period. Unfortunately, for those on the South Holt side, most of those points came from Jefferson.
“At the start of the game our offense kind of struggled off the bat,” Jefferson junior Clayton Merrigan said. “But then we got some easy ones on the defensive end and that got us going.”
Koby Stoll and Chase Farman started the second quarter with two free throws each, followed by a 2-pointer from Stoll and two free throws from Merrigan to give the Eagles their biggest lead up to that point at 21-11.
Morris ended the run with a 3-pointer, but Jefferson quickly went on another 6-0 run. Merrigan was responsible for three of those points and had six total in the first half.
“We all kind of get our shots, get our teammates shots and especially when someone gets rolling, we try to get the ball to them,” Merrigan said.
The Knights sprinkled in two baskets, but it was all about the Eagles in the second quarter. The Eagles scored 29 points in the quarter and no one player was to credit for it. Stoll had six, Farnan had four and Patrick O’Connor added three.
“We know that we can put the ball in anyone’s hands and they can take the ball, shoot it and make it,” Dalton Luke said.
The Eagles ended the half on an 11-3 run. The three points from South Holt came on a buzzer-beater from Chanse Barnes, making it 42-23 at the half.
“I thought when we were able to extend the lead with that little flurry was big, especially with a couple of guys sitting on the bench in foul trouble,” Jermain said.
The two teams traded baskets to start the third quarter, but the Knights were never able to cut into the Jefferson lead. The Eagles took their biggest lead of the game with Farnan’s 2-pointer to make it 61-29. Farnan finished with eight points in the third quarter. Luke ended the quarter with a 2-pointer that gave Jefferson a 66-35 lead.
“We’re hitting most of our shots and our defense has been amazing,” Luke said. “It just comes down to trusting one another.”
The win moved the Eagles to 9-1 through their first 10 games. Jefferson will play again on Jan. 4 with a trip to face 2-8 Osborn.
“Coach does a good job of helping us get better and better every day,” Merrigan said. “I think as long as we keep grinding defensively and get better, our offense will be there all night.”