TAMPA - Playing against Tampa Bay Tech, the county's top team, Jefferson was not surprised when it found itself down by 26 at halftime. The Titans (15-1) had come out in their usual aggressive, dominating style and showed no mercy on the district underdogs.
No one expected the whirlwind that was the third quarter, though, perhaps not even the Dragons. TBT finished with a 79-40 victory, but it didn't come without a mid-game roller coaster.
Jefferson began the third quarter with a 19-point run, pulling within seven in less than five minutes. During the run the Titans, who hadn't faced this type of challenge all season, looked helpless.
"We got down on ourselves and started arguing," TBT guard Naomi Barnes said.
"I started throwing to areas instead of people," Rebekkah Barnes said.
In the blink of an eye, the momentum swung toward the Titans. Forward Chi Chi Okpaleke (28 points, nine rebounds) scored two quick layups, followed by one by Naomi Barnes and more by Okpaleke. The steals and the passes began flowing for TBT as it did early in the game, and the Dragons soon found themselves in trouble again.
After its third-quarter run, Jefferson made two field goals the rest of the game.
"We turned the ball over way too many times," Dragons coach Tom Mosca said. "We talked about it in preparation for the game. We had to take care of the ball. If you give that team (Tampa Bay Tech) more opportunities to score, they'll use them."
Four different Titans scored in double digits (Okpaleke, Rebekkah and Naomi Barnes and Dallas McNeal). Teyaqua Gunn had 15 rebounds, and Naomi Barnes added eight assists and five steals.
Terrosany Ingram led Jefferson with 23 points and four steals. Nikita Williams scored 11.