Nothing comes free in Yellow Jacket win
It wasn't pretty, even when the Yellow Jackets got to shoot free throws Tuesday night at Tri-Nine foe Athens Drive. In the end though, the scoreboard was just fine for a conference test on the road as Lee County prevailed 43-36 over the Jaguars improving to a 5-2 mark in the Tri-Nine.
Lee County (8-6 overall) made only 5-of-25 (20 percent) of its free throws and never opened up a comfortable lead against the Jaguars (0-14, 0-7). The Jackets held the lead throughout the second half and relied on their big man, 6-foot-5 junior Dewaun McEachin, who was too strong around the hoop for the smaller Jags and totaled 20 points. McEachin led the way even while contributing to the Yellow Jacket woes at the line as he made 2-of-11 free throws on the night.
The Jaguars opened up hot, hitting two three-pointers as part of taking a 10-4 lead in the first 2:58 of the game. The Jaguar offense surprised Lee County for the first few possessions, but the Jackets clamped down from there.
Trailing 15-8 to start the second period, the Jackets got a three-point play at the hoop by McEachin, a three-pointer by Hunter Jackson and a jumper in the middle of the lane by Jason Payne to quickly move in front, 16-15. Another Jackson triple made it 11 straight Jacket points. Freshman guard Namique Farrow hit a left corner three-pointer at the horn of the half putting the Jackets up 23-19.
Lee County had chances to put the game out of reach. The Jacket trapping caused an 18-9 turnover advantage for the game and the Jackets held Athens Drive scoreless for the first 3:33 of the second half.
In that 3:33 though, the Jackets managed one made field goal and went 0-for-4 at the line, leaving a four-point Jacket lead when the Jaguars finally scored a deuce.
McEachin's play around the hoop was the one thing the Jackets could count on. He scored with a tap-in above the rim giving Lee a 29-21 lead, then with a two-handed dunk on a cut down the lane and feed by Jackson for a 31-24 Jacket advantage. Another buzzer-beater boosted the Jackets, this one with Payne making a three for a 34-26 Jacket lead going to the fourth period.
Running the clock whenever they could, then getting the ball to McEachin for a lay-in or dunk when the Jaguars had to get too aggressive, Lee County kept a two-possession lead or more though the last eight minutes.
McEachin finished with 10 points in each half and six boards in all. Farrow, Jackson and Dante Graham tallied four assists each. Payne had 10 points and Jackson added six.
Jason West led Athens Drive with 13 points and five rebounds. KaShawn Middleton had seven points and nine rebounds.
Lee County continues in Tri-Nine play Friday night, hosting Holly Springs at 7 p.m.