With defenders draped on sophomore big man Justin Johnson like coats on a coat-rack, junior Jamelle Jefferies took full-advantage.
Jefferies connected 9-of-13 shots for a team-high 19 points in the Ironmenâ€™s 75-64 victory Thursday night. The second-round win advances them to the sectional finals Saturday at 7 p.m. in Hiwasssee Dam, a five and a half hour-trip.
â€œJamelle is not a big scorer, but he stepped up when the team needed him to. I had three guys on me the whole night,â€ Johnson said. â€œWhen I came out of the locker room, I had three guys on me,â€ he added with a laugh.
â€œThey were doubling him (Justin) in the post, then tripling when he got the ball, so to Jamelleâ€™s credit he flashed to the paint, got some good open shots and attacked the basket,â€ Cherryville head coach Scott Harrill said, praising Jefferies for stepping up.
While Jefferies impact on the game can not be denied, Johnson also found his groove in the second half, knocking down six-of-eight shots in the final two stanzas on his way to 17 points. Senior Antonio Griggs and Cameron Lovelace each had 15 as part of a balanced-scoring effort for the Ironmen.
â€œPooh (Griggs) and Brad (Kendrick showed good senior leadership. Cameron knocked down some big shots and Nick played tremendous defense the whole time,â€ Johnson said of his teammates.
After falling behind 19-10 at the end of the first quarter, Cherryville responded by outscoring Andrews 47-27.
â€œWe started out slow, but I thought our defensive intensity picked up a lot. We got a couple of good possessions where we were able to force some turnovers and that helped us dictate the tempo,â€ Harrill said.
Andrew Mashburn with a punishing inside game led Andrews and the game with 21 points on the night.
The Ironmen are expected to leave by noon Saturday via bus to get to Hiwassee Dam, close to the Tennessee line, in plenty of time before the 7 p.m. tip-off time.
â€œWe just got to stay focused. Itâ€™s not going to be a vacation to go up there to play. We have to try to play our best. Theyâ€™re an excellent team from everything Iâ€™ve heard,â€ Harrill said of any possible effects such a long trip may have on his team.
â€œIâ€™m looking forward to another big game before we go to Winston Salem,â€ Johnson added, when asked what his thoughts were about the upcoming sectional final.
by John Mark Brooks