Last weekend was a mixed bag for Jefferson High basketball – wins against down-county and conference rival Whitehall, and then losses the next day in Manhattan.
On Friday in Whitehall, the girls played first. The Trojans put the first points on the board, but a pair of free throws by Izzy Morris and Austie May’s three to put the Panthers up 5-2. The lead went back and forth from there, with Whitehall holding a 17-16 lead at the end of one.
Jessie Harris put the Panthers up 20-18 and a three by Morris made it 25-20, but the lady Trojans kept it close, and the half ended with Jefferson up by just one, 25-24. But the pace changed in the second half: Hanna Stevens started a run that saw Cameron Toney and May hit 2-pointers, and May and Morris connect on long 3-pointers. Suddenly, the Panthers were up 35-27.
May added another three and the Panthers were on a 22-5 run to go up 47-29 with 8 minutes remaining. MacKenzie Layng swished a pair of free throws, Emma McCauley added a 2-pointer and the Panthers took the win 64-42. Morris led all scorers with 23 points, while May had 13, Toney 12, Layng 5, Harris 4, Morris 3, and McCauley and Stevens 2
In the boys’ games Dalton Noble and Zach Zody hit 3-pointers to put the Panthers up 6-2. Mike Emter came up with a big block and the Panthers held a slight lead, 10-9, at the end of one. But the Panthers took over in the second period: A basket by Tyler McGady, a steal by Zach Zody who fed Dylan Root for two, and a three by Kael Hesford led the way to a 27-13 lead at the half.
The Panthers padded their lead to 43-27 at the end of three. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Zody put the Panthers up 55-38. Then Hunter Stevens converted an old-fashioned three and followed with a blocked shot to seal the 58-44 win. Root led the Panthers with 16 points, while Zody had 12, Noble and Stevens 9, Hesford 6, and Marcus Lee, Emter, Root and Tyler McGady 2 each.
The day day, the Panthers traveled to Manhattan — and the cold spell outside followed the Panthers into the gym. In the girls’ game, Morris stole the ball and scored to make it 2-2, but it was several minutes later before she scored again — and by then, the Panthers were down 10-4.
Buckets by Toney and Faler narrowed the gap to 10-8, and May hit a three and Toney a pair of free throws to make it 15-13, Manhattan, at the end of a very low-scoring half. I didn’t have to worry about my pen running out of ink in the third, either, as both teams struggled to get much to fall: With eight minutes left, it was still just 23-18, Manhattan.
The Panthers pulled to within three starting the fourth quarter but then the free throws took over and Manhattan was able to pull out the win 42-29. Toney led the Panthers with 11 points, while May scored.
Hesford started the boys action with a three, then Noble added an old-fashioned three to put the Panthers up 6-0. Manhattan answered with three 3-pointers to go up 9-6 before Hesford answered with another three to tie it at 9 — and it looked like both teams were happy hitting from long range.
Noble scored to start the second and the teams burned up the floor with steals and fast breaks. The Panthers led early, 20-17, but Manhattan chipped away and eventually took a 36-30 lead at the half.
The teams were tied at 41 in the third, and Root’s basket narrowed the Manhattan lead to 45-44. But then a Manhattan player was fouled on a 3-point shot attempt and hit all three free throws to put the Tigers up 48-44 at the end of three. And the fourth quarter belonged to Manhattan, as they outscored the Panthers 20 to 8 to take the win 68-52. Hesford had a nice night with 19 points, while Root scored 11 and Noble 8.
This week the Panthers host Three Forks on Friday and travel to Choteau on Saturday. Meanwhile, the State B-C Speech meet is at Manhattan on Friday and Saturday.