Gryphons' season ends in Round 2
The Thomas Jefferson Gryphons nearly erased a 21-point fourth quarter deficit, but the hill proved too hard to climb as they fell to Robbinsville, 81-66, in the second round of the NCHSAA playoffs.
"I don't think the better the better team won tonight," said TJCA head coach Ken Hines Sr. "But sometimes that happens in the playoffs. The long bus ride killed us. We came out sluggish and didn't wake up until the fourth quarter.
"We had a great season and I don't mean to be harsh, but it still ended the same as last year, with a loss. It's very disappointing because we were the better team."
The game was tight early as the teams split the first eight points. Robbinsville's Cole Huskey converted a three-point play before Mason Fenner pulled TJCA to 9-8 with a layup, but the Black Knights responded with a 10-0 run.
Efrim Borders snapped the streak with a layup. TJCA still trailed 19-10 at the end of the first quarter.
Things did not improve for TJCA in the second quarter. The Black Knights' Huskey did the majority of the damage in the quarter with seven points. TJCA only scored eight points in the quarter as a team. To make matters worse, TJCA was whistled for 11 fouls in the quarter, leaving four players with at least two fouls.
That fact combined with a 36-18 deficit gave the Gryphons a tough road to hoe in the second half.
TJCA was more competitive in the second half. Truth Freeland hit a pair of turnaround jumpers and Nick Mintz hit a floater, but Robbinsville took the air out of the ball and did a good job of spacing the floor. They melted large chunks of time of the clock, foiling a TJCA rally. Even with their better play however, the Gryphons still trailed 55-34 at the end of the third quarter.
The shots finally started falling in the fourth quarter. The Gryphons connected on six 3 pointers in the frame, three each from Jaylon Simmons and Borders. By the time Borders converted a layup, the Gryphons had pulled within six points, 72-66 with 1:17 left.
The Black Knights then finished the game on a 9-0 run to account for the 81-66 final.
Borders led the Gryphons with 22 points in his final game in a Gryphon uniform.