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Jaguars get rare win at West Jessamine, 76-66

By Clinton Riddle

Contributor

East Jessamine beat the Colts at West Jessamine for the first time in seven years, with a decisive 76-66 victory in a game that had its heated moments.

Double-digit scoring from four of the West Jessamine players and a team shooting percentage of 53.2% wasn’t enough to hold off a Jaguars’ performance highlighted by Zion Thomas’ 20-point, six-rebound, four-assist night, as well as the high tempo maintained by the Jags for most of the game.

This was the first victory at West for the Jaguars since Feb. 7, 2014, a game they won, 73-56.

“Well, I’ll be honest with you: we looked like a team that had had two practices in nine days,” said Colts head coach Damon Kelley. “They (East) did not. They looked sharp, full of energy, with a purpose. We looked lethargic, discombobulated. They deserved to win this ballgame. They were the better team.”

East Jessamine’s scoring was led by Devin Johnson, who scored 24 points on 9-13 shooting, including four of five three-point attempts. Thomas scored 20 points on 9-14 shooting, with Ben McNew scoring 17 points. Caleb Smith and Cam Thompson scored eight and seven points, respectively.

East Jessamine shot 58.8% as a team, hitting six of 15 from beyond the arc. They also dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Colts, 28 to 18. Eleven of East’s rebounds came on the offensive end.

The Jaguars’ Thompson led the team with six assists, with Thomas picking up four, and McNew and Johnson finishing with two each.

East’s Smith finished with three blocks in addition to his team-leading seven rebounds. Thomas finished with six, Thompson and McNew each had five, Johnson had three, and Will Hatter and Collin McElfresh each finished with one.

Jaguars head coach Thomas Chewning noted the physical style of play in this latest match-up of the long-running inter-county rivalry.

“This last week showed us that we’ve got to take every opportunity that we can,” he said of the restrictions both West and East Jessamine were under due to COVID-19. “This class and last year’s class has learned a huge lesson, in that you don’t take anything for granted.”

“We just had practice for the first time in a week, yesterday,” Coach Chewning continued.

“But that’s been the message, here,” he said, returning his focus to the game. “‘Be the aggressor, don’t take anything for granted, and give it everything you’ve got,’” he concluded.

The Colts’ scoring was led by Daniel Waters, who finished with 19 points on 8-11 shooting. Drew Marshall scored 14 points, followed by DeAjuann Stepp and Gavin Salva, who had 12 points each. Jackson Green finished with four, with Brett Bush and Luke Barr rounding out the scoring with three and two points, respectively.

Salva’s seven rebounds led the Colts, with Waters, Green, and Stepp each pulling down three. Barr and Marshall each finished the game with one.

In the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, both Thompson and Johnson had to be treated for game-sustained injuries, with an area on Johnson’s right forearm covered with gauze and wrapped, while Thompson’s inner lower lip was reportedly lacerated during contact with a West player in the paint.

In addition, East’s McNew and West’s Stepp were assessed off-setting technicals in the first half, with East’s Johnson drawing a technical foul in the second half.

Coach Kelley felt his team’s performance was due, at least in part, to their lack of practice time in the week leading into the game.

“But the reality is, any excuse I can make for our play, you throw out the window when you look at how well they played, because they were under the same practice restrictions.”

“I’m disappointed, but I tip my hat to them. They deserved to win tonight.”