The Smith-Cotton boys basketball team couldn’t stop Jefferson City’s 3-point shooting early on in a 71-46 loss on Thursday.
The Jays hit 4 of 6 from beyond the arc in the first quarter, including the first two shots they attempted.
“Just really didn’t get off to the start we needed to, defensively especially,” said Tigers coach Ray Hughes. “We wanted to pressure the ball handlers and make it difficult. We weren’t able to do that so that allowed them easy looks and we didn’t quite have it to start the game the way we needed to.”
At times, the Tigers struggled to shoot the ball as well. In the first quarter as Jefferson City built a 26-7 lead, Smith-Cotton made 3 of 14 from the floor. After a Chance Johnson 3-pointer early in the third cut the Jays’ lead to 35-24, the Tigers missed the next 11 shots they attempted and Jefferson City was able to extend the lead to 55-25. Smith-Cotton hit 7 of 27 from the field in the first half and 8 of 39 through three before connecting 8 of 13 in the fourth quarter.
“It’s a confidence thing,” Hughes said. “We probably shoot more than any team in Missouri and we have good shooters. I’m confident in our shooters. It’s just one of those nights that we’ve got to do better. We’ve got to do better to get them prepared to win.”
Smith-Cotton did have a good stretch in the second quarter and at the start of the third. After missing its first six shots of the second quarter and falling behind 31-12, Smith-Cotton had the lead down to 14 at halftime. Dante Scroggins hit a 3-pointer to open the run and Johnson hit a floater in the lane followed by a pair of baskets by freshman Gavin Jones.
“We just played harder,” Hughes said. “We played a little more relaxed. We played a very tense game and didn’t execute. We just have to have them better prepared next time.”
Jefferson City was led by Harold Robertson who scored nine points in the first quarter alone and finished with 20. He hit four 3-pointers in the game including one on the first possession of the first quarter.
“He’s a good shooter,” Hughes said. “We wanted to jam him and make him put it on the floor but we didn’t do that.”
OG Anunoby scored 22 for the Jays. Johnson led the Tigers with 15.
The Jays jumped out to a 9-0 lead thanks to a pair of 3-pointers and a 3-point play while Smith-Cotton came away empty on its first five trips down the floor before Johnson sank a free throw to get the Tigers on the board.
But after the Jays built the lead on 3-point shooting in the first quarter, the long range shooting suddenly went cold in the second as they hit just 1 of 8, allowing Smith-Cotton to cut into the lead.
In the third quarter the Tigers saw their shooting go cold and Jefferson City went on a run, getting a layup from Lucas Therroff and back-to-back 3-pointers from Anunoby and Seth Stegeman to make it 47-24. Anunoby had two more baskets to close the third and another on the first possession of the fourth, all of them in the lane, and Jefferson City’s lead was up to 30 points.
Jefferson City won the junior varsity game 42-35 despite 11 points from Smith-Cotton’s Keoni Hale.
The Tigers open West Central Conference play on Dec. 13 when they host Clinton.