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Six days after finishing their district schedule with a perfect 3-0 record, the South Oldham Dragons looked like a different team for the first three quarters of Monday’s game against visiting Jeffersontown.
Though they did fight in the fourth quarter to erase a staggering 13-point deficit, it was too late as a combination of hot shooting from the Chargers and sloppy ball handling from the Dragons led to a frustrating 71-69 loss.
“We just came out totally flat,” South Oldham coach Steve Simpson said. “I don’t know what was going on. If I knew, I could have fixed it at halftime but we just seemed really flat and didn’t play well early.”
From the opening tip, J-town controlled the tempo and momentum as nothing seemed to go the Dragons’ way early.
After climbing out to a quick 32-20 lead midway through the first half, J-town utilized suffocating defense and plenty of transition scoring — staples of the Dragon offense on a good night — to keep South at arm’s length. That would come to a head during a rowdy third quarter as the Chargers’ lead ballooned to as much as 17 at 40-57.
But that’s when the Dragons found second life.
After scoring four straight to close the quarter, a lay up from Devonte Jones and a pair of 3-pointers from Michael Griffin and Jack Sherry had South within five,
Jeffersontown was able to get a bit of breath and push the lead back out to eight at 57-65 but Jones had an answer again, slashing his way to pull South back within four.
A layup from Shae Goodlett on the next possession further cut into the lead with under two minutes to play, but the Dragons lost the free-throw battle over the next 30 seconds to put themselves in a tough hole.
Though a Mitch Catinna triple made the game a one possession game with two seconds to play, there wasn’t enough time for a good shot after J-town missed both of their free throws on the other end.
The loss is unsettling for a South Oldham team that appeared to peak at the perfect time as the Dragons head into postseason play.
They’ll have their work cut out for them to get back on track as they take to the road for a tough five-game stretch to close the regular season but Simpson said he believes his team will be ready to play when the postseason calls.
“All losses worry me, but we didn’t dwell on this a lot,” he said. “They’re not in the Eighth Region. I think this road trip will help in some ways but just getting back in the gym is going to help us the most.”
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Jeffersontown 17 22 18 14 — 71
South Oldham 18 14 12 25 — 69
South Oldham (15-6) — Ma. Haysley 13, Jones 12, Goodlett 11, Sherry 10, Young 7, Griffin 6, Catinna 5, Greenwood 3, Mi. Haysley 2.
3-pointers — Griffin 2, Sherry 2, Young 2, Catinna, Greenwood, Ma. Haysley.