ALBANY, Mo. — The Jefferson Eagles are off to their best start since 2013. The Eagles moved to 4-0 with a 70-32 win over the Pattonsburg Panthers on Saturday night in the Albany Invitational Tournament championship game.

Jefferson took a few minutes to get going in the first quarter. The Eagles had missed their first five shots of the game before Steven Chor started the scoring with a 3-pointer. The two teams traded baskets before Jefferson went on a 7-0 run — five points coming from Koby Stoll.

The lead quickly dwindled as the Eagles turned the ball over twice and sent the Panthers to the line three times. Jefferson held a slim 15-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.

After a less than ideal ending to the first quarter, the Jefferson defense and its pressure assisted in breaking the game open. The Eagles’ Clayton Merrigan started the second quarter by knocking down to free throws and then Stoll followed that up with back-to-back baskets to extend the lead to 24-13.

“This team has really bought in, we have most of our team back from last year and over the summer they really bought into playing and they really like that style of defense,” Eagles coach Tim Jermain said.

Pattonsburg ended the 6-0 run with a basket of their own, but it quickly went down hill for the Panthers from there. Jefferson went on a 12-2 run with center Chase Farnan making his presence felt in the paint. Farnan scored five points in that run.

“We came out with a lot of intensity, played hard and got the win,” Farnan said. “We were knocking down shots and we did a great job of communicating on defense.”

Jefferson led by as many as 18 in the second quarter and went into halftime with a 38-21 lead. Farnan and Stoll led the Eagles with 10 points each in the first half.

The Panthers opened the second half with a layup to cut the lead to 15, but again, the Jefferson defense created havoc for Pattonsburg. Stoll started the run with a put back on a missed three, then a steal on the inbounds play. Another stolen pass led to a layup for Jefferson — giving them six points in just 10 seconds of game time.

“Our success starts on the defensive end, we’ve been kind of streaky in our shooting, but for the most part our defense has played pretty well,” Jermain said. “I thought a key tonight was rebounding and I thought we did a pretty good job of that tonight.”

The second half was slowed by the number of fouls committed between the two teams. After combining for 19 fouls in the first, the two teams had eight fouls in the first four minutes of the second quarter. There were two fouls called in the first six seconds of the fourth quarter. The game saw over 35 free-throw attempts.

Farnan scored his 14th point to start the fourth quarter before handing the baton to Dalton Luke who scored nine points in the final period. With his team up 68-32, Jermain pulled his starters midway through the final quarter.

Farnan led the Eagles with 14 points and Stoll was second on the team with 13 points. Stoll was named Tournament MVP after his performances in Jefferson’s three victories.

“He is real consistent,” Jermain said. “A couple of games where we were stagnant offensively, he really got us going with his aggressiveness and attacking the basket.”

The Eagles will look to stay undefeated on Tuesday as Union Star makes a trip to Conception Junction.

“It was nice to get our first regular season tournament championship of the year,” Stoll said. “But we need to keep on hitting it hard at practice and getting better.”

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