Thomas Jefferson's scoring spurts lock down victory
If Thomas Jefferson coach Dom DeCicco didn't believe that basketball is a game of runs, he might now.
In a game that had 16 ties or lead changes over the first 12 minutes, Thomas Jefferson put together a solid final 20 minutes against East Allegheny, highlighted by a couple of impressive runs, to remain unbeaten and on top of the Section 4-AAA standings with a 65-42 win.
“East Allegheny is a scary team,” DeCicco said. “They are a team that can put points on the board and, fortunately, we were able to slow them down and put together some runs.”
Thomas Jefferson (11-4, 7-0) limited East Allegheny (7-9, 3-5) to 20 points below its season average and 19 fewer than its first meeting — a 68-61 Thomas Jefferson win Dec. 18.
Joe Carroll scored a game-high 24 points, including 16 in the first half for the Jaguars. Chase Winovich added 14 points.
East Allegheny got 12 points from Joel Randolph and 11 from Shawn Adair. EA hit only 5-of-27 shots from the floor in the decisive second half, including 2 of 11 from 3-point range.
“We really pride ourselves on our defense,” Carroll said. “We always want to come out and give up the least points possible, and that's what we tried to do.”
It didn't hurt that Thomas Jefferson supplemented its defense with a couple game-altering runs, including:
• A 10-2 run to end the first half to snap a 24-24 tie.
• A 12-0 run over a span of 6:56 of the third and fourth quarters to expand the lead to 16.
• A 10-4 run to end the game.
Thomas Jefferson outscored East Allegheny, 41-16, over the final 18:40.
“We were able to put together a couple runs because of our defense,” DeCicco said. “We are not a team that is going to wow you, but we will get the job done. We thought we were giving them a lot of easy looks early on so we wanted to play an honest, hard half-court defense.”
DeCicco was more than happy to grind it out in the half court.
“What we preached the last couple days of practice is that when it comes playoff time, that it is a grind,” DeCicco said. “Teams are going to take away your transition in the playoffs, and it is going to be a half-court game. You have to be able to lock down and execute on the offensive end of the court.”
East Allegheny answered TJ bucket for bucket into the second quarter before a couple of Carroll steals that he turned into points at end of the first half put the Jaguars ahead, 34-26.
Adair hit a pair of 3-pointers early in the second half to get the Wildcats within 39-35.
After that, it was all TJ.
Carroll hit three jumpers, Winovich banged underneath for a pair of baskets, and Adam Miller scored a pair to put TJ up, 51-35.
“We just came into the second half and outworked them,” Winovich said. “That is all it was. Who was the better team? We wanted to show East Allegheny and all the teams we play that we can shut them down. This was a good win for us. When we play our game, we are tough to beat.”