Posted On: 11/27/18 11:55 PM

Just like in the first meeting, Southaven was up for the challenge against Olive Branch.

And this time around, the Chargers hung around for four full eight-minute quarters.

The ‘Quistors (6-2) needed their proven players from last season’s 5A state championship team to lead them to victory, and they answered. Senior forward D.J. Jeffries had 30 points and Wes Taylor provided 15 to help Olive Branch hold off Southaven (4-4) for the 68-59 victory Tuesday night.

The Chargers have lost four of their last five games – two to the ‘Quistors – after starting the season 3-0.

The win was tough to come by for the defending 5A state champs as they struggled to execute on both ends of the court. Olive Branch had a combination of mishaps that included missed layups, turnovers, missed defensive assignments, and poor free throw shooting.

The ‘Quistors went 20 for 36 from the free throw line, an issue this team has been dealing with for the past four games.

“It’s definitely disappointing. This is one of those nights we didn’t play very good at all,” Olive Branch head coach Eric Rambough said. “We haven’t shot the ball good in four games. Add missed free throws and layups, we had too many turnovers, again. It was just a bad night.

“But, hopefully, it’s a night we can learn from.”

The ‘Quistors didn’t pull away until the last five minutes of the fourth quarter. Olive Branch held a 50-49 lead before senior point guard Joe Cooper made two shots from the foul line to push his team’s lead up to three. Point guard Kyron Pleas, then, made a layup in transition. Taylor connected on a 3 then followed up with another score two possessions later to give the ‘Quistors their biggest lead for the moment at 60-49.

But, there was still time left in the game.

Sophomore shooting guard Jaylon Sanders brought the Chargers’ deficit back down to single digits with the left-handed layup, but a score from Cooper plus a 3-point play from Jeffries, who went 10 of 13 from the charity stripe, made 65-53.

Cooper, who made 6 of 8 shots from the free throw line, made two late for the 67-53 lead.

Southaven’s starting point guard James Richards went down with a sprained ankle late in the fourth quarter before Olive Branch’s final push. He finished with nine points. Sanders led the team with 15 to go with his five assists and four rebounds.

Third-year head coach Ron Wilson mentioned after the game that he doesn’t know the extent of Richards’ injury, but if he has to miss some games, someone else will have to step up.

Free throw shooting

The ‘Quistors wasn’t the only team to struggle from the free throw line. The Chargers struggled as well, going 14 for 25 from the foul line.

Hard play

Junior forward Cameron Matthews scored only seven points and went 1 for 6 from the free throw line, but he was very active on defense and crashed the boards when his teammates needed the ball to get back on offense.

“D.J. and Cameron got a lot of rebounds for us tonight,” Rambough said. “It seems like Cam had a bunch of them.”

Did Olive Branch overlook Southaven with Scott County coming?

The ‘Quistors have to play Scott County, the second-ranked team in the state of Kentucky, this weekend in the Marshall County Hoopfest. Rambough mentioned this was, sort of, a trap game, with such a bigger game coming up.

“I was, kind of, worried about this game a little bit,” Rambough said. “I don’t think we were overlooking them (the Chargers), but I don’t think we were as prepared as we should have been.”

Missed layups

Southaven missed layups that could have been a difference maker in the outcome of the game, but coach Wilson wants his team to learn from its mistakes as the season progresses.

“We have to keep fighting and go from there,” Wilson said.

Jeffries doesn’t seemed worried

After the game, Jeffries wasn’t bothered at all by Olive Branch’s performance in a gutsy win. He was very relaxed in answering questions about his team’s struggles.

“We will be fine,” Jeffries said. “We just have to clean up some stuff.”