The Jefferson City Jays are glad to have Rae'Quan Davis back.
The 6-3 junior forward recorded the first points and rebound Tuesday night to help the Jays begin the game on a 7-2 run. He finished with 11 points and tied for a team-high five rebounds in his first action of the season after being ineligible during the first semester.
"We've been seeing that in practice all first semester and we're excited for him to get to play, as were our players," Jays coach Blair Thompson said following Tuesday night's 56-41 win against Waynesville at Fleming Fieldhouse. "He brings a great deal of leadership, of toughness, and the ability to finish and rebound underneath. Getting him back is definitely a step in the right direction for us and much needed for us at this point in the season."
Davis got the start as well as Charlie Wehmeyer, who usually comes off the bench for the Jays. But by the end of the first quarter, 10 players had touched the floor for Jefferson City.
"We're just trying to keep pressure going, keep fresh legs out, gets guys' feet wet and not have any breakdowns due to fatigue," Thompson said. "I like being able to play a lot of guys. That takes a certain amount of sacrifice for some players, but I think when we get guys playing well down the bench then we'll be deeper and if you're deeper you're better."
There was no sign of fatigue for the Jays' defense, shutting down the Tigers in the first half.
A steal and old-fashioned three-point play for Kamari Balton capped a 7-2 run to begin the game. Balton finished with 12 points.
Jefferson City also began the second quarter on a 9-0 run to lead 26-11 at the 5:20 mark.
A Chuck Cooper steal and a Davis bucket finished the run.
"We have to start on defense," Thompson said. "You have to be able to defend and stop people, and that's been the message. For whatever reason, whether it's a shakeup in the starting lineup or what have you, we got down and defended tonight."
Waynesville's first points of the quarter came at the 4:28 mark on a pair of three throws. The Tigers' only other points before halftime came on an Ethan Brown jumper with 2:38 left.
Hunter Nilges drained his third of five 3-pointers at the 1:51 mark for the final points of the first half, making it a 34-15 lead for the Jays.
The Tigers scored eight of the first 10 points in the second half, including a Tahja Stewart 3 from the wing.
That would be the only spark Waynesville could manage, only cutting the deficit to 13.
The lead reached 46-31 by the end of the third quarter and 55-31 in the first couple minutes of the fourth quarter.
Nilges hit from deep on the first possession of the fourth quarter. Nilges was 5-of-5 from beyond the arc as he led the Jays with 17 points.
The Tigers attempted nine 3-pointers in the final eight minutes, only hitting on one. Waynesville shot 5-of-32 from 3-point range for the game.
"If you're going to give up something, it's probably a deep contested 3," Thomspson said. "I'll take that any day of the week. As long as we're there contesting and as long as we're making sure we're getting the long rebounds."
The Jays were there for the rebounds. Cooper, Balton and DaMani Jarrett joined Davis with five boards each. The Jays finished the game with a slight 33-31 advantage on the boards.
Jefferson City (6-7) is back on the home floor Thursday against Pacific.
In Tuesday's JV game, Waynesville topped the Jays 37-34. Waynesville won the freshman contest 45-34.