On paper at least, they were the owners of the top two records within the 12th Region.
On the hardwood, one was significantly better than the other — for one particular night any way.
The 10-3 East Jessamine Jaguars rolled into Southwestern’s Wigwam to face the home-standing 9-2 Warriors on Thursday night in the opening round of the Lake Cumberland Holiday Hoops Classic, and the visitors from Nicholasville never had a chance.
Isaiah Collier’s three just seven seconds into the game gave Southwestern a very quick, 3-0 lead, and Steve Wright’s club would never look back.
Southwestern raced out to a 20-4 lead midway through the first period, and despite one scoring drought that lasted seven and a half minutes, it was the Warriors cruising to an impressive, 81-65 victory over the Jaguars.
“I just think after Christmas it’s just tough to come back and play,” stated Wright, after his own club moved to 10-2 with the victory.
“It’s just a hard time of the year, and hopefully we will be a little sharper and a little more consistent tomorrow night,” continued the SWHS coach. “Our effort was good, and we did a lot of things that we were trying to do. They’re (East Jessamine) an awfully good team. They shoot the ball well, and they spread you out and they drive it to the hole good.”
Collier’s three with 7:53 remaining in the opening quarter of play gave the Warriors that quick, 3-0 lead, but there would be much, much more to come from Southwestern.
The Warriors defense forced East Jessamine into six turnovers in the opening stanza, while limiting the Jaguars to only five made buckets over that same span of time.
However, after rolling out to a 20-4 lead in the first quarter, the Warriors went cold.
How cold? Ice cold.
Over the next 7:19, Southwestern only scored two points, while East Jessamine methodically tried to climb back into this one.
A three-point basket from Mike Jones trimmed the Warrior lead down to 22-17 early in the second quarter, but Southwestern — after a timeout called by coach Wright — finally got the ball to start going back into the basket.
David Kapinga scored 11 of his game-high 20 points in the first half, while Justin Edwards tallied 10 of his 18 points in the opening half of play, helping the Warriors maintain a double-digit lead at the break over East Jessamine, leading the Jags by a 37-27 margin.
With the win over the Jaguars on Thursday night, Southwestern has now ran its winning streak to six games in a row, making those back to back losses to Wayne County and Perry County Central three weeks ago nothing more than a distant memory.
“We just had a bad weekend,” pointed out Wright in talking about the only two bumps in the road so far this season for his club.
“We didn’t play well and deserved to lose that Friday to Wayne County, and then we let that affect how we played that Saturday against Perry County Central,” added the Warrior coach. “We showed some immaturity in that game, and I think we’ve learned some lessons from that. We’re playing harder now and we’re rebounding better.”
Leading the Jags by that 37-27 margin at the intermission, Southwestern didn’t take its foot off the gas in the second half.
The Warriors built their lead up to as many as 23 points early in the fourth quarter, before Wright called off the dogs and began emptying his bench.
David Kapinga paced the Warriors with 20 points while Edwards added 18 for Southwestern.
Isaiah Collier scored 12 points in the win and led his club with 12 rebounds, while senior Justin Schulz hit for double figures with 11 points.
The tournament will continue today, and will conclude tomorrow night at Southwestern High School, with the championship game of the tournament slated to get underway on Sunday at 8:15 p.m.
EJ — 14 13 16 22 — 65
SW — 22 15 22 22 — 81
EAST JESSAMINE — Jones 17, T. Harper 15, Carson 12, Bradshaw 10, N. Harper 3, Reed 3, Smith 3, Dean 2.
SOUTHWESTERN — Kapinga 20, Edwards 18, Collier 12, Schulz 11, Groves 8, Gaskin 6, Hansford 4, Isaacs 2.