By Jeremy McDonald
JEFFERSON, Ore.– The Jefferson Boys Basketball team found ways to keep Lowell off the board in both teams’ first game out of the New Year, but that dang Zone Defense that the Red Devils were playing played devilish tricks on the Lions offensive shot selection that kept Jefferson’s lead to 19-12 entering the second half.
The shots fell early in the third behind Leon Romo Jr.’s six points, but only led 27-21 by quarters end as it came down to the game’s final eight minutes to seal their first win since December 4.
“I felt like we could have handled that a lot better,” said Diego Rodriguez on the slow start. “I felt like it was a tempo. We’ve been working on our zone offense for that too and it’s just our tempo and keeping our heads up because the missed shots is the reason why our defense was kind of kicking down in the first half.
“Coach yelled at us to get back on defense and to be more aggressive, push it more.”
Nate Neuschwader sat his team down during the quarter break and challenged his team to finish the job on their home court up six point in the Central Valley Conference-opener for each squad.
And they responded with Jayden Eriksen converted a steal to a fast break basket before using his height to put Jefferson up 31-23 with under seven to play.
Danny Aguilar found Romo Jr. to make it 33-24. After a Red Devil basket, Rodriguez bounced a rebound out to Romo Jr. for three, Aguilar then found Rodriguez for a lay-in that made it 38-26 with 4:24 left with Lowell having to burn a timeout.
The press brought the heat to help with the lead, but Lowell got it to ten with two to play after a 22 lay-in but the Lions kept the Red Devils from making a run at it to win their league opener and snapping a four-game losing streak.
“We just had to wait until they started to fall. We just took our time and we had coach talked to us in the locker room. After he got done talking to us we were more fired up, more intensity to come out and get the win,” said Romo Jr., who finished with 13 points in the 40-30 win. “It’s a win no matter what, but we could have done a lot better closing out the game as well.
“We had a lot of simple mistakes that we couldn’t had and it just comes with knocking off the rust of our first actual league game, so overall I think we’re going to do better.”
Rodriguez finished with five, Eriksen added another eight as Jefferson travels to Monroe Friday to play the Dragons at 6pm. Monroe lost to Oakridge 83-81 Wednesday night at home.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald