Three Big Thoughts: Bloomington Jefferson sneaks by St. Paul Central

High School
Minnesota

Posted On: 12/29/17 8:35 PM

Game 1 of Bethel Holiday Week kicked off in a battle of AAAA schools, Jefferson and Central. Back and forth until Central burst with a 15-0 run in the first half, the Minutemen couldn’t quite hold that lead and the Jaguars quietly and grittily (?) mounted the comeback for a 58-52 victory. Here are the three big thoughts from the game:

Minutemen junior class. There is just one senior on the Central roster. The entire rotation will return next year and they have lots of length, athleticism and basketball talent. It all starts with 2019 6-4 wing Daveonte Davis. He put in 20 points in the loss but wove his way through defensive gaps for slashes at the rim. He’s also a better shooter than I gave him credit for, always shooting with balance and great elevation.

Who was responsible for the 15-0 Central run in the first half though? Dion Ford, another 6-4 junior forward. It was easy to see that Central was not comfortable mirroring the iconic snail pace of Jefferson, so Ford asserted himself on defense to get the speed of the game going, leaking for three fast break layups. He finished with 16, mostly at the rim.

Jefferson pace and style. Coach Evens hasn’t veered from his bread and butter. The Jaguar system is a series of “color” calls; White, Green, Blue, etc. Each color decides the motion and screen type for that set. “White”, for example, is a four-out screen away system with a flex cut sprinkled in. The Jags are patient to get a great shot every possession, waiting and waiting until an open three or wide driving lane presents itself. Because of it, most Jefferson games are in the 40s and 50s, and they generally win them. This team has very little true size so having an interchangeable personnel offense is definitely a good thing. Isaiah Watts, a junior wing, was impressive with 14 active points. Senior wing Mike Evens was his usual Swiss Army knife self, giving something in every category until he left with a twisted ankle.

What’s next? Central is still likely the best team in the St. Paul City. They have most of that schedule left along with a few tough non-con matchups like East Ridge and Minnehaha. I do like their chances to make the Twin Cities Game and probably a 5 or 6 seed in the still-stacked section 4. Their young talent is going to get better and better and they’ll be really good this year and next.

Jefferson has the classic Metro West team schedule where they play a slate of Lake and South Suburban foes for non-conference. That includes Wayzata, Eden Prairie and Edina in 3 of the next 4 games. They’ll likely be a top 4 Metro West squad and when playoff time rolls around they’ll be in the mix for a home game in section 2AAAA. Chaska, Eden Prairie and Edina will be their biggest challenges there.