TJCA edges North Henderson
Mason Fenner scored 18 points an Jaylen Simmons had 17 as the Thomas Jefferson Gryphons overcame foul trouble and defeated the North Henderson Knights, 63-58, Wednesday night at Cool Springs.
The Gryphons had as much as a 15-point lead early in the second quarter before fouls sent the Knights to foul line numerous times cut the deficit to single digits, but the Gryphons kept a working margin the rest of the way.
The Knights started the contested on an 8-2 run capped on a three-point play by Cory Foster. Mason Fenner then got hot for the Gryphons scoring 11 straight points, all on drives to the basket. His acrobatic three-point play put the Gryphons up 13-10.
The game then became a foul shooting contest as both teams reached the double bonus in the first quarter. But that did not slow the Gryphons as Nick Mintz and Truth Freeland continually beat their defenders off the dribble for a 20-12 TJCA lead after the first quarter.
TJCA used the same strategy to explode on a 7-0 run to start the second quarter.
Bradley Freels was the main beneficiary of the driving guards as he converted two easy layups and a deep 3-pointer. As a result, the home team grabbed a 27-12 lead.
North Henderson began to chip away at the lead from the foul line and in the paint. A trio of Gryphon post players had three first-half fouls and Austin Nelson began to take advantage. He scored seven quick points to cut the TJCA lead under double digits and the Knights were able to claw to within 34-29 at the break.
Fenner opened the second half with a 3-pointer, but Chris Mintz quickly picked up his fourth foul. Then two more Gryphons picked their fourth fouls.
When Freels and Fenner picked up their fourth fouls, all five starters were one infraction away from disqualification.
Simmons kept Thomas Jefferson in front. His running layup off a missed 3-pointer gave the Gryphons a 43-37 lead with 3:04 left in the quarter. Thomas Jefferson then went cold from the field the rest of the quarter.
The Knights pulled to within 43-41 as a result, but Simmons hit a runner just before the buzzer to make the tally 45-41 at the end of the third quarter.
TJCA once again started the final quarter hot going 4-for-4 from the field in the opening 90 seconds.
Simmons and Fenner had two buckets apiece in the spurt to put the home team up by 10 points. A three-point play by Foster cut the deficit to 57-52 with 1:04 left. Efrim Borders then beat a trapping defense to find an open Mintz moments later for a 59-54 lead.
Simmons then canned two foul shots an Fenner followed suit as TJCA held on 63-58.
The Gryphons travel to Hendersonville tonight for a 7:30 p.m. tip.