Jefferson County sweeps rival Wilkinson County in boys, girls hoops

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Jefferson County High School didn’t have a lead on Wilkinson County until nearly halftime, but after senior Nico Griffin nailed a 3-pointer to put the Tigers ahead before the break, they never looked back.

Griffin sank three 3s in the second quarter alone and tallied 13 points to aid Jefferson County to a hard-fought 60-51 win over the Wildcats Tuesday.

The senior night victory puts the Tigers (10-11, 6-3) in the second spot of MHSAA Region 7-3A.

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“Hats go off to Wilkinson County because they are always going to play hard,” JCHS coach Marcus Walton said.

Griffin had help from fellow teammates. Joshua Day ended the game with 18 points and Rashard Short added 17.

Walton said that without his team’s strong presence on the court, he’s not sure that the Tigers would have come out on top.

After pulling ahead, Jefferson County’s biggest lead of the night was 10 points, and it came from purely attacking the basketball.

“We are a decent offensive team, but we are better when we really buckle down and defend the basketball,” Walton said. “After that, we were able to make some easy baskets. Our defense is our everything, and it was our difference maker tonight.”

The Tigers forced Wilkinson County (9-9, 3-6) to take jump shots in the second half, and Ja’Quorias Stewart was able to hit five 3-pointers to keep the game within reach for the Wildcats.

“(Stewart) is one of the best shooters I’ve seen in high school basketball,” Walton said. “We have to deal with him every time we match up.”

Wildcat coach Julius Anderson said despite an even start, his team lacked momentum after a long senior night halftime.

“Senior night got us out of our rhythm, and we never could pick it back up,” he said. “I like the effort, but sometimes you just don’t get there.”

Leading scorers for Wilkinson County were Stewart, who finished the night with 20 points, and Travion Jones posted 11 of his own.

Jefferson County will travel to Franklin County on Friday, while Wilkinson will host its senior night on Friday against Wesson.

Jefferson County (girls) 62, Wilkinson County 55

Kailyn Hammett scored 33 points and had 10 assists in a 62-55 victory for the Lady Tigers in girls action.

Hammett sank six 3-pointers and was a perfect 11 of 11 from the free throw line to push Jefferson County (19-6, 4-5) to the win.

“She is a very unselfish player and likes to pass the ball, but I told Kailyn that she was going to have to shoot tonight,” Lady Tiger coach Flora McKnight said. “She gives us the energy, and the other girls feed off of her.”

Jefferson County was down two points at the end of the first quarter, 15-13, but outscored the Lady Wildcats 23-6 in the second to give it the comfortable lead.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing, however, as there were multiple injuries for the Lady Tigers.

With just less than five minutes remaining until the half, Jar’qualya Doss and Brittany Goldsberry collided with one another in attempts to recover a loose ball.

McKnight said that while Goldsberry seemed OK, Doss was taken to the hospital with a concussion.

“That’s a play I hate to see happen, but they both wanted the ball,” she said. “We have had the injury bug all season, but tonight we were unstoppable and we weren’t going to let anything get in our way.”

With two starters out, Hammett picked up the slack.

“Coach tells us everyday that we won’t know when it’ll be our turn and that anybody could get hurt,” Hammett said. “Everybody stepped up and played their role.”

Hammett might have been on fire, yet Wilkinson County didn’t let a 36-21 halftime deficit leave them out.

The Lady Wildcats (6-12, 2-7) outscored Jefferson County 18-10 in the third period, but couldn’t hold on as they missed 13 free throws on the night.

“We made them give us the game,” Anderson, who also coaches the girls team, said. “There was a lot of stuff that went unseen, and our girls fought hard.”