Led by a scorching performance from Trent McMaster, Jefferson High’s basketball squad notched an important 81-77 win Monday against county rival Whitehall.
The match, one of two that had to be made up following a mandated COVID-19 quarantine for the Panthers, began with both teams hitting on all cylinders and both sides of the gym cheering.
Tyler Harrington put the first points on the board with a pair of free throws, and the Panthers took a 17-11 lead on a McMaster three. While McMaster was on fire – he sank three shots from beyond the arc in the period — the Trojans stayed close, with Brandon Wagner knocking down 10 points in the quarter.
McMaster started the second with a two and then traded three pointers with Wagner to put the Panthers up, 27-19. A three by Joe Visser made it 34-28 with a little over four minutes left in the half — but the Trojans outscored Jefferson 15 to 7 the rest of the way to take a 43-41 halftime lead. (In quite a few high school games that score is a final; this would prove a high-scoring affair.)
Jake Genger came alive in the third ,and McMaster continued to be a scoring force — helping lead the Panthers to a one-point edge going into the final eight minutes. There was great passing and ball-sharing all around – and did I mention that both teams were putting the ball in the hoop a lot?
The panthers went up 72-66 with a pair of free throws by Visser, but if that eased the nerves of Panther fans, it did not last long. Whitehall came back to tie the game at 72 with 1:58 remaining. The, a breakthrough: McMaster stole the ball and scored, Genger swished a pair of free throws, and McMaster added three free throws to make it 79-72 with 37 seconds left — and Jefferson hung on for the win.
McMaster led all scorers with 36 points on five three pointers, eight two pointers and 7 of 11 free throws. Visser added 18, Genger 14, Harrington 7, and Braden Morris and Wade Rykal 3.