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February 8, 2013

H.S. BOYS' BASKETBALL: Devils HHC champs again

Jeff completes back-to-back undefeated conference seasons with 86-66 win over Jennings

JEFFERSONVILLE — Prior to Thursday night’s game at Johnson Arena, Jeffersonville High School and all of Red Devil Nation honored the 1992-93 Jeff boys’ basketball team, which won the program’s lone state championship that season.

After the ceremony, the 2012-13 Red Devils made some of their own history.

For the first time in program history, Jeff finished undefeated in conference play in back-to-back seasons by downing Hoosier Hills Conference rival Jennings County, 86-66. It was the Red Devils’ 10th HHC title and their seventh outright championship.

“It was one of our goals this year. But we still have more goals to go,” Jeff senior Darryl Baker said. “It gets us ready for sectional and regional and so on.”

Jeff coach Chad Gilbert lauded his team’s effort in capturing its second straight conference crown.

“It’s a big accomplishment,” Gilbert said. “A lot of our kids’ pride was showing out there and you’ve got to love it. I’m proud of their effort and I’m awful proud of the accomplishment.”

Balanced scoring was the main reason the Red Devils clinched the HHC crown on Thursday night as five starters scored in double figures.

Baker paced Jeff (15-3, 7-0 HHC) with 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting along with a game-high seven rebounds. Baker needs 11 points in next Tuesday’s home game against Corydon Central (13-4) to reach 1,000-point plateau in his high school career.

Teammate Myles Harvey had 18 points, shooting 7-of-11 from the floor. He tallied 14 points in the first half.

Junior guard Drew Ellis chipped in 14 points and dished out a game-high eight assists. Other double-digit scorers for Jeff were Keenan Williams with 11 points and Jacquari Chandler with 10. Red Devil senior Kortrell White scored nine points off the bench.

The starters helped the Red Devils have an explosive second half, where they scored 52 points on 21-of-30 shooting. In the fourth quarter alone, Jeff scored 31 points and connected 12-of-14 field-goal attempts.

“We turned down good shots for great ones,” Gilbert said. “Jennings went to a zone and in the first half we were shooting after the first pass. In the second half, we made them guard us a little bit and we got some pretty good opportunities.”

Another stellar statistic for the Red Devils was they turned the ball over five times. Gilbert says his squad’s ballhandling has come a long way since it made 30 turnovers in a 69-67 home loss to Louisville Ballard on Dec. 11.

“That’s something we want to continue to work on,” Gilbert said. “We want to play fast and when you play fast, you’re going to have turnovers. But I think we’re good enough to keep our turnovers to a minimum.”

Baker says he and his teammates have learned the hard way in limiting their turnovers because of the extra running they have done in practice.

“Coach punishes for turnovers — we run [in practice],” Baker said. “We’re maturing. We’re just growing up and our chemistry is getting better as a team.”

Despite the victory, Gilbert says his troops must improve in a couple of areas before the postseason.

“Our transition defense must improve and that’s just a pride thing — getting back and hustling,” Gilbert said. “Rebounding and transition defense are both pride things and things we can be accountable for.”

Senior guard Bailey Sanders led Jennings County (11-7, 4-2) with a game-high 22 points. Sophomore Dan Leach poured in 16.

Mike Broughton, the coach for the 1992-93 state champion Red Devils, was on the Jennings bench on Thursday as he is the Panthers’ varsity assistant coach. Broughton, who also is Jennings County’s athletic director, took part in the pregame festivities on Thursday night.

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