Less than a minute and a half into Tuesday night's game against Waynesville, Jefferson City coach Mark Anderson needed a timeout.
"Painful," Anderson said about falling behind 7-0.
He got some relief with a 10-0 run to start the second half in a 43-37 victory for the Jays at Fleming Fieldhouse.
Jefferson City was limited to 13 points in the first half, nine from Sterling DeSha.
DeSha made 4-of-6 from the field in the first 16 minutes, while the rest of the Jays shot 2-of-11. DeSha finished the game 6-of-9 for a game-high 14 points.
"He really kind of bailed us out in the first half to find some points," Anderson said. "That at least kept us in contact."
Waynesville's lead was 18-13 at halftime and that disappeared just a couple minutes into the third quarter.
Ryan Brooks began the 10-0 run with a second-chance basket followed by a baseline drive for a layup by DeSha.
About a minute later, Brennan Jeffries tip-toed to keep the ball in bounds near midcourt for a steal and made it to the basket for a layup, giving the Jays their first lead at 19-18 at the 5:28 mark of the third quarter.
The lead reached five after a Brooks layup and a Michael Appiah-Brefo dunk. The Jays' bigs combined to score 10 of the Jays' 17 points in the third quarter.
"We talked about that at halftime," Anderson said. "We didn't think we had done that enough. We didn't think we had looked to do it enough. We did go early to them and got some easy baskets that way, which made things easier."
Appiah-Brefo scored nine of his 11 points in the second half and led the Jays with seven rebounds and three blocks.
Jefferson City got the lead to 30-24 by the end of the third quarter and 32-24 early in the fourth quarter, but the margin never grew.
Hunter Poole closed the gap to 38-35 with a corner 3-pointer with about a minute remaining. But the Tigers missed their final four shot attempts, only managing a pair of free throws with :06.3 on the clock.
"I thought we did a nice job of switching some defenses there in the fourth quarter," Anderson said.
Tahja Stewart was the most reliable offensive weapon for the Tigers, scoring 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
Five of those points came in the first two minutes of the game during the 7-0 run. After four straight points for the Jays, Gunner Rees knocked down a 3-pointer after a steal to make it 10-4 at the 2:13 mark of the first quarter.
"He's going to go to his right hand, he's going to go to his right hand, and he goes to his right hand and he scores," Anderson said of Stewart. "Then (Rees) hits a jump shot. Just some things we had talked about over and over and over again. But after that, I thought we really clamped down.
"They are a really good dribble-drive team. They try to get to the basket and try to get some high-low stuff, and I thought we guarded them pretty well after that."
Rees finished with 11 points for Waynesville (7-5).
Tuesday was the first time the Jays held an opponent under 40 points since a 58-29 win against Union last February.
"We guarded really well," Anderson said. "We really struggled defensively over the weekend in Joplin and even before that in the last couple games of the holiday tournament. It was nice to kind of get back and get some stops."
Jefferson City (8-7) is off until Tuesday when it plays Helias (6-6) at Rackers Fieldhouse.
"I've got a feeling our guys will be ready to go on Tuesday night," Anderson said.
Jefferson City fell 67-60 in the JV game. Brenden Hoener and Isaac Jones each scored 15 points for the Jays. Keith Driver added 11 points.
The Jays won the freshman contest 50-37 to improve to 8-0 on the season.
Kevion Pendleton led Jefferson City with 11 points.