Jays fall to Oxford in Great 8 Classic

Jefferson City had a chance to come out of the first round of Joe Machens Great 8 Classic with a win.

The Jays didn’t take advantage of enough opportunities.

Oxford overcame a 10-point deficit in the first half and held off a late comeback to claim a 47-45 win against Jefferson City on Friday night at Fleming Fieldhouse.

“When all is said and done, we had plenty of opportunities to win,” Jefferson City coach Blair Thompson said. “We just didn’t get it done. We didn’t execute.”

Everything seemed to be going the Jays’ way in the beginning.

Oxford (9-1) jumped out to a 6-1 lead midway through the first quarter, but Jefferson City (4-4) went on a 15-0 run to take a 10-point advantage with 5:23 left in the second quarter.

“The ball was moving offensively in the half court,” Thompson said. “When it does that, we’re good; when it doesn’t, we’re not.”

Meanwhile, everything was going wrong for the Chargers.

Oxford missed its first nine shots from the floor to open up the second quarter, and it wasn’t until 4:39 left before the half when Oxford junior Shelby McEwen sank a free throw to put the Chargers on the board again.

Then came the third quarter.

“They definitely changed up what they were doing and it bothered us,” Thompson said. “I think we were a little tentative.”

The Chargers hit three 3-pointers in the first 2:20 to tie the game at 25. Oxford closed out the period on a 4-0 run and extended its lead to nine with just over six minutes left in the game.

“We just didn’t execute and let them in the game,” Thompson said. “From there, we were in a battle and got the end result we did.”

The Jays weren’t done fighting.

Lucas Theroff forced back-to-back turnovers to set up fast-break points by Darion Jones and O.G. Anunoby to cut Jefferson City’s deficit to five with 4:32 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Theroff, Harold Robertson Jr., and Anunoby each hit 3s to keep Jefferson City within striking distance, but the Jays couldn’t get the stop they needed defensively.

“In order to win at this level and in this tournament, you’ve got to make plays,” Thompson said. “But I can’t fault our effort. We played hard.”

Still trailing by four with 18 seconds left to play, Jefferson City was forced to foul.

Jones kept the Jays’ hopes alive after grabbing an offensive rebound and converting on a three-point play to make it a two-point game.

That’s as close as they would get.

“We struggled with patience at times, so it’s a learning process,” Thompson said. “When we are patient and get the ball where we want it to go, we’re pretty good. We didn’t do that enough in the second half and we turned the ball over too much.”

Anunoby scored 13 points, pulled down 14 rebounds, and recorded three blocks to lead the Jays, who were 15-of-37 from the field and 12-of-18 from the free-throw line.

Josh Gibbs scored a game-high 16 points — all in the second half — to lead Oxford, which was 18-of-41 from the field and 6-of-10 from the charity stripe.

Jefferson City will take on Helias in a loser’s bracket semifinal game at 4 p.m. today at Fleming Fieldhouse.

“It will be another tough game,” Thompson said. “As tough, if not tougher than the one we just played. But that’s why we’re here. It’s all about bouncing back and we’ll see if we can do it.”

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