FAIRFAX, Mo. – The Jefferson Eagles took full advantage of Mound City’s loss last week to East Atchison with a 45-38 win over the Wolves to win a share of the 275 Conference Championship. The Eagles’ defense held the Wolves to their lowest point total since scoring 46 way back on Dec. 4.
“East Atchison put up 85 on Mound City last week and to hold them under 40 is just a huge confidence booster for us,” Koby Stoll said.
Jefferson struck first, scoring the game’s first three points. East Atchison answered with a field goal, followed by Chase Farnan’s first basket of the game. The Wolves tied the game with a three-pointer before the Eagles’ Clayton Merrigan hit back-to-back baskets. East Atchison landed its second three of the quarter to draw to within one at the end of the first.
The Wolves were the ones to jump out to a fast start in the second quarter. East Atchison began the quarter with a 5-0 run to take its first lead of the game. Eagles coach Tim Jermain took a timeout to try and slow the momentum.
Stoll hit Jefferson’s first three-pointer out of the timeout to start a 12-4 run for the Eagles. Jefferson had five different players score during the run. The run ended with Stoll scoring right before halftime.
“I think it was a lot of grit and a lot of effort,” Jermain said. “One of the things we talked about three weeks ago is the ability to rebound and we kept a really athletic team off the boards, but I thought they trusted each other and helped each other really well.”
The Eagles began the second half with a 4-0 run, giving Jefferson the game’s biggest lead at eight. But the Wolves kept fighting back, scoring six in a row and eight of the next 10.
“Shots weren’t going down, I thought we had some good looks and they were a little stagnant with the ball and didn’t move it real well,” Jermain said.
East Atchison completed its comeback with a layup to tie the game at 27 with 40 seconds left in the third quarter. The tie didn’t last long as Merrigan made both of his free throws to take back the lead with two seconds left in the quarter.
Nathan Jermain and Steven Chor started the fourth quarter with threes to push the lead back out to eight. The Eagles combined to make five three-pointers in the game, but it was the defense that the younger Jermain was so impressed with.
“Our defensive effort was what kept us in the game, I mean, we’ve had other teams that will score quite a few points against us,” Nathan Jermain said. “So it was nice to hold them to not very many points.”
The Jefferson lead was nine with 1:43 left in the game and the Eagles in the double bonus. The Wolves cut the lead to seven with 1:25 left in the game and fouled Farnan to send him to the line two times in a row. Farnan made two of the four attempts.
East Atchison chipped away at the lead once again with a three-pointer with 41 seconds left. The Wolves fouled Merrigan and Merrigan missed both free throw attempts. The lead was then cut to four with a two-point field goal on East Atchison’s next possession.
Stoll was fouled on the inbounds play, but he too missed both free throws. Fortunately, the Wolves were unable to muster any more points. Farnan ended the game making three of four free throws. Jefferson made just 10 of the 27 free throws it took in the second half.
“They’re good free throw shooters in practice, every day they’ll stand there and knock them down, they just have to have some confidence when they step up there in a game,” Coach Jermain said.
The win makes it a three-way tie between Jefferson, Mound City and East Atchison for the conference championship.
“It feels great to beat them, honestly, we had to win this game to get a tie for the conference championship and they’ve held us back from winning it the last two years,” Nathan Jermain said.