JACKSONVILLE — Robert E. Lee withstood Jacksonville’s full-court pressure and trapping defense in the first quarter of their game Tuesday to end the period tied at 9-9.
But there were still three periods left to play and those proved to be problematic for the Red Raiders, who dropped their second game in a row, 61-47.
Lee (7-2) finished with 22 turnovers, many of those leading to baskets the other way for Jacksonville (8-0), which totaled 15 steals.
“We got away from what we were doing early,” Lee coach Alan Johnston said. “We handled it early and then got frantic. And what kind of left the building was our defensive rotation and our rebounding.”
Lee senior Taylor Tankersley was the lone player in double figures for the Red Raiders, finishing with 11 points and six rebounds. Caleb Johnston had eight points and Jack Calhoun finished with seven.
Jacksonville received multiple contributions, led by Londedric Taylor, who scored 18 points to go along with three steals and three rebounds. Dadrian Franklin finished with 11 points, five rebounds and three steals. Kedarius Buckingham and Daytron Thompson each had 10.
“It’s a big win and this was a playoff-type atmosphere,” Jacksonville coach Brent Kelley said. “We’re 27-1 at home; these seniors are and that one loss was to Lee. They beat us twice last year, so this group of seniors had never beaten Lee.
“It was ugly offensively at times but we hang our hat on great defense. That’s what we spend the majority of our time working on and it’s been good to us so far.”
The game began with Lee using a methodical approach against Jacksonville’s pressure while keeping its usual effort on defense. The Red Raiders hadn’t allowed a team to score over 50 points in a game yet this season, and looked to be ready to do it again.
After being tied 9-9 at the end of one, REL picked up where it left off in the second period with baskets from Will Dougherty and Caleb Johnston helping the Red Raiders build a 15-11 lead with 3:49 to play in the half.
Jacksonville’s pressure defense then started paying dividends with Thompson turning back-to-back steals into layups, the second one a three-point play. Another steal, this time by Franklin led to a run out and layup for Buckingham as Jacksonville closed out the half on a 9-1 run to lead 20-16 at the break.
The Indians kept it going at the start of the third with more Lee turnovers sparking a 10-2 run and 30-18 advantage. REL went nearly eight minutes without a field goal from the start of Jacksonville’s run in the second period until Tankersley hit a trey with 4:48 remaining in the third to make it 30-21.
Jacksonville fired back with consecutive 3-pointers from Franklin to push the Indians’ lead out to 36-21
“Against a quality team like Jacksonville is, you’ve got to weather the storms,” Johnston said of Lee’s struggles. “Our guys kept competing, but we did not stay focused on our game plan. We knew coming in that they were going to run and jump us, trap us and get after us on the floor.
“We were without one of our guards, Darriun Smallwood, who had a fever and that hurt us. But our turnovers were massive (in this game). We flooded with turnovers too quick.”
The Red Raiders continued to battle back, and thanks to an 18-7 spurt at the end of the third period and start of the fourth, were able to cut their deficit to four points, 43-39, with 5:53 remaining.
Jacksonville answered with a 9-0 run, nearly all coming off steals to put the game away.
The Indians will next face Woden on Thursday at the Fairfield Tournament while Lee goes to Lufkin to take on Livingston at 12:30 p.m. Friday at the Holiday Invitational.
Jacksonville 61, Robert E. Lee 47
Robert E. Lee 9 7 19 12 — 47
Jacksonville 9 11 23 18 — 61
ROBERT E. LEE — Jack Calhoun, 7; Austin Fleet, 0; Luke Derfus, 1; Taylor Takersley, 4; Jared Williams, 4; Will Dougherty, 4; Caleb Johnston, 8; Tucker Boyd, 3; Justin DeSalvo, 5. FG: 12-33 FT: 8-15.
JACKSONVILLE — Dadrian Franklin, 11; Daytron Thompson, 10; Chris Cross, 2; Kedarius Buckingham, 10; Londedric Taylor, 18; Kevin Lybrand, 0; Charles Kendrick, 0; Jeremy McAnally, 2; Ozzian Clayborne, 4; Raybon Riden, 4; Claude Franklin, 0. FG: 23-48 FT: 12-16.
THREE-POINT GOALS — Lee (5-13): Johnston (3), Tankersley, Boyd. JACK (3-14): Franklin (2), Taylor.
JV SCORE — Lee 53-41
RECORDS — Robert E. Lee 7-2; Jacksonville 8-0.
NEXT UP — Lee vs. Livingston, 12:30 p.m. at Lufkin Holiday Invitational; Jacksonville vs. Woden, TBA at Fairfield Holiday Tournament.