TAMPA — Maurice Moore has missed the bulk of the season with an ankle injury and Jefferson coach Eric Hayes’ plan has been to judiciously ease his leading scorer from a season ago, a junior who returned following the winter break, back into the lineup.
If Friday night was any indication, Moore is again ready for a full workload.
Moore came off the bench for a game-high 23 points and keyed a critical fourth-quarter stretch as Jefferson avenged its lone district loss of the season by defeating visiting Lennard 74-68.
“He was in a cast right up until Christmas,” Hayes said. “He’s only played the last three games and those have been spot minutes.”
The win moved the Dragons (17-5, 12-1) into sole possession of first place in Class 6A, District 9 with one game left for Jefferson and Lennard. The Longhorns (15-4, 11-2) defeated the Dragons 72-70 Dec. 9 in the team’s first meeting.
“We were looking forward to this one,” Hayes said. “And they knew if they won this game and beat Leto (on Wednesday), they would have the No. 1 seed in the district tournament.”
Moore, who didn’t suit in the team’s first matchup, scored all but two of his points in the second half. And his ballhandling was instrumental in helping the Dragons quell the Longhorns full court pressure, which caused problems for Jefferson in the first half.
“Their defense, sometimes I though there was seven or eight guys on the court,” Hayes said. “But I knew (Moore) could really help us with that if we got the ball in his hands.”
Jefferson turned a six-point deficit early in the fourth quarter into a seven-point cushion with a 16-3 run to take a 70-63 lead Lennard could not recover from.
Cameron Padgett added 19 points for Jefferson. Caelen Watts paced Lennard with 22.