TAMPA — For a team that, according to its coach, has yet to play a complete game, the Jefferson Dragons are still finding ways to pile up early-season wins.
The victim Friday? An up-and-down King squad led by senior guard Rashad Green.
Green averaged 23 points before playing Jefferson but was held to single digits in the Dragons’ 71-42 rout of the Lions.
“Coach told us if we shut down No. 11 the game was ours, and that’s what we tried to do,” Jefferson guard Vernon Jackson said. “He challenged us to try to force them into 20 turnovers. That’s what it seemed like we did, and the game started flowing.”
After beginning slowly and falling behind 6-1, Jefferson (7-1, 5-0) went on a 9-0 run to take a one-point lead by the end of the first quarter.
The Dragons picked up the intensity of their aggressive man-to-man defense in the second, forcing eight turnovers and limiting King (2-3, 2-2) to five points for the quarter. Offensively, Jefferson drove the basket to get to the foul line. In the first half, the Dragons went 13-for-17 shooting free throws and were 23-of-29 for the game.
“Some games we start off fast and then have a bad spell later on,” Jefferson coach Eric Hayes said. “Tonight we started off a little slow, and then we got the motor running toward the middle and end of the second quarter. Hopefully, we can try to get it so we can play an entire game all the way through, with that same intensity from beginning to end.”
Behind a 3-pointer from Jackson and a rare four-point play from Stephon Lofton, Jefferson extended its advantage to 18 with five minutes remaining in the third. The Dragons led by 22 after three.
“We rotated much better this game,” Jackson said. “We have different boosts. We seem to have a boost every couple of minutes. If we get that going the whole game, I’m pretty sure nobody in Hillsborough County can stop us.”
Jackson led all scorers with 16 points. Shaquille Mandy contributed 10 points and nine rebounds and Cameron Padgett and Taj Jenkins each scored 10.
“We really don’t have that one person we want to give the ball to every time so everybody knows that if they come out and play hard, they’ll have an opportunity,” Hayes said.
Green’s season-low eight points paced King, which was undone by poor shooting and 26 turnovers. Jordan Kelly and Jared Stephenson each pumped in seven points for the Lions.