Thomas Jefferson’s fast paced, up-tempo offense met its match in a Long Island Lutheran team that plays much the same way.
LuHi (10–1) was able to push the tempo, run the floor, and finish at the basket more effectively and handed the Jefferson boys’ basketball team a 75–62 defeat in the Apparel Challenge at Christ the King on Jan. 11. The event pitted programs sponsored by Nike against those sponsored by Under Armour.
Jefferson struggled at times dealing with the tempo and transition game of LuHi on the defensive side of things. On offense, it struggled to finish its layups as the Crusaders’ size and length made things tougher.
LuHi took control of the game in the third quarter. Jefferson came out after halftime and was able to open up the frame with a 14–3 run to tie the score at 38–38. But LuHi than went on a run of its own. It ended the frame on a 20–5 spurt and held the usually high-powered Jefferson offense scoreless for four minutes during the run.
“We were all over the place,” said Jefferson head coach Lawrence “Bud” Pollard. “Guys wanted to do it their own way, and that’s what happens when guys do it their own way. We think that’s more important than beating people our way.”
In the first quarter it was obvious that the game was going to be a fast-paced affair. Both Jefferson and LuHi pushed the ball up court and attacked the basket, but Jefferson began to struggle in the second quarter. LuHi, which led 35–24 at the half, was able to use its transition game not only to attack Jefferson in the paint, but also score from the outside.
Shamorie Ponds scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half and Jaquan McKennon added 14. Devonte Green paced LuHi with 22 points.
Jefferson (15–2) got a break as the third quarter began. Two LuHi players dunked during warm ups. This isn’t allowed while the referees are on the court, so LuHi received two technical fouls. Shamorie Ponds hit all four technical foul free throws and scored on the ensuing possession to pull Jefferson within 35–30. LuHi shook off the mistakes and increased its lead to 58–43 heading into the final quarter.
“When they came back and made their own run, we didn’t get back on defense,” Pollard said. “I told these guys poor offense makes poor defense. Our offense was poor today, our decision-making was poor, and our free throw shooting was poor.”
Jefferson tried to battle back into the game in the fourth quarter as they got the LuHi lead down to nine with less than two minutes remaining, but it would be too little too late as LuHi’s lead was too much to overcome.
“After we came out at halftime we wanted to fight back,” said Jefferson senior guard McKennon. “We fought our best. We wanted to win, but unfortunately we didn’t get the win.”