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Logansport picks off Jeff
March 26, 2012Lafayette Jefferson High School
KOKOMO -- Lafayette Jeff's boys basketball players took the long, slow walk across Memorial Gymnasium to a locker room soon filled with tearful embraces.
Much of the emotion the Bronchos expressed after a 67-58 Class 4A Kokomo Sectional semifinal loss to Logansport stemmed from its unexpected timing. The Berries (13-8) avenged a regular season loss and for the second season in a row and will play No. 7 Kokomo (19-2) for the sectional championship tonight.
"In the first half, we just let it get away from us for the most part," said Jeff senior forward Derrick "D.J." Rogers, who posted 12 points and 16 rebounds. "We were playing so well. We were playing as a team; we were playing together. And it seemed like it just wasn't there for some reason."
Kokomo beat McCutcheon 64-34 in the night's first semifinal. The Wildkats are the defending sectional champion and last year's state runner-up.
A well-played loss to Kokomo in tonight's final might have caused less heartache in Jeff's locker room. Instead, a few stretches of uncharacteristic struggles led to a second semifinal exit in as many years.
"I'm proud of these guys," Jeff coach Scott Radeker said. "These kids played hard and they played for the full 32 minutes. The execution wasn't always there tonight, but the effort was. I'm just real proud of how far these guys have come, and this group of seniors has been awesome."
Jarlon Garrett scored nine points during a 12-2 Jeff run to close the first quarter. With 3:36 left in the first half, Rashad Richardson's layup made it a 19-13 Broncho lead.
But in the final three minutes of the quarter, Jeff (14-8) was 1-for-5 from the field, 0-for-2 at the free throw line, and committed three turnovers that were each converted into Logansport baskets. Brock Armstrong extended the Berries' 29-22 halftime lead by opening the third quarter with a 3-pointer, and Antonio Penny's layup with 7:19 left in the third put Logansport up by 12.
"Those last couple of minutes, they just had us running and they were getting us to turn it over," Rogers said. "They were playing good basketball, and they got that momentum and they kept it the rest of the game."
A pair of DeShonte Townsend 3s quickly cut the Berries' lead to 38-34, but six points was as close as Jeff would come the rest of the night. The Bronchos trailed 57-51 after Garrett's layup with 2:47 left, but he fouled out while defending in transition seconds later.
In Tuesday's victory over Marion, the Bronchos feasted from 3-point range, hitting 12 of 23. But they never found their stroke against Logansport while making 6 of 24.
"There were some times where we were just jacking them up," Rogers said. "It happened a couple of times. I think it just comes from us thinking, 'Wow, this could be over right now. Let's try to get this going.' It's not a bad mentality, but it's not good basketball at the same time."
Lafayette Jeff beat Logansport 69-60 on Dec. 10 behind 30 points from Richardson. The senior guard/forward scored 18 on Friday, but made just 5 of 18 field goal tries, including 1 of 5 from 3-point range.
The biggest difference between the two games may have been the presence of Logansport junior guard Jayson Higgins. After missing the entire regular season due to left shoulder surgery, Higgins made his debut Friday and scored 16 points over the final three quarters, including eight in the fourth.
"We sure could have used him earlier in the year, but it's nice to have him now," Logansport coach Mark Victor said.