When youre struggling to score points and trying to keep up with some of the faster-paced junior college clubs on your schedule, schools like Jefferson Community College mens basketball team find solace in little accomplishments.
Thursday night, for instance, the host Cannoneers played highly regarded Tompkins-Cortland CC to a one-point game in the second half of a Mid-State Athletic Conference game. And Charlie Bridge IIIs team played the second 20 minutes hard, as if the game was still on the line.
Unfortunately, the visiting Panthers ran away in the final 10 minutes of the first half, building a 25-point halftime edge, and coasted to an 80-55 victory over the Cannoneers.
For Bridge and his players, it was just another example of their lack of offense, a lack of hardly any inside game and trying to fit players into roles they arent accustomed to.
We competed hard for 40 minutes, where we could have just packed it in at halftime, said Bridge, whose club fell to 5-10 overall, 0-2 in conference. But when you struggle to score like we have all season, its kind of a Catch 22 as to whether you want to speed the game up or slow it down.
The first semester, Bridge tried a slower tempo, but couldnt find enough ways to score.
Playing at a faster pace as the second semester began, Bridge has seen his kids make poor decisions that led to easy buckets for the opposition.
Thursday, the Cannoneers turned the ball over 24 times, which led to 26 points for T-CCC (10-3, 2-0).
They are good enough that you cant give up so many easy points and hope to stay close, Bridge said of Region 3s fourth-ranked club. And we just couldnt make enough shots against their zone to keep up. Thats been a problem all season.
JCC shot just 33 percent from the field, including only 3-of-15 on 3-pointers. And with only one player over 6-foot-3, the Cannoneers were outrebounded 47-34 and got very little offense close to the basket.
Freshman Damien Jackson led JCC with 18 points, and sophomore Derrick Williams added 11.
Bridge is trying to fit eight freshmen into his rotation to go along with sophomores Williams and Andrew McNitt. Its been a tough transition so far.
We have kids that never played point guard trying to run that position, Bridge said. They are learning, but it takes time. And we havent gotten the kind of leadership on the court you get from an experienced point guard.
Bridge was hoping former Indian River player Alex Sullivan would fill that role. But he re-injured a knee and is gone for the season.
After a slow start, JCC actually trimmed the deficit to 12-11 with 13 minutes left in the opening half.
But the Panthers went on a 12-0 run over the next five minutes, and finished the half on a 37-14 roll.
Tyseem Lyles led T-CCC with 15 points, Brandon Reed added 12 and Matt Warchocki 11.
JCC WOMEN 67, T-CCC 50
While the men began the conference season with consecutive losses, the Cannoneer women won their second straight MSAC game in convincing fashion.
In the process, JCC equalled its win total from last year, gaining victory No. 6.
Freshman sensation Jasmine Canady scored 23 points, had eight rebounds and nine steals as JCC (6-9, 2-0) took a 34-23 halftime lead and then pulled away in the final 10 minutes of the second half.
Sophomore Morgan Kiernan and freshman Tapulei Vavaeo each contributed 14 points for JCC.
Coach Josh Woodward said his team is playing with a lot more confidence this season.
Jasmine, obviously, makes a big difference because she can score and also looks for her teammates, Woodward said. And were getting some contributions off the bench that we didnt last season. This game was by far the best weve played all season.
Canady came from Spring Lake, N.C., after her father was transferred to Fort Drum.
Woodward actually found her name on a recruiting website, contacted her about coming to JCC and was more than pleased when she showed up for practice.
She was in elementary school up here while very young, so she was a little familiar with the area, Woodward said. But its not often you get kids that special just coming here without much recruitment.