By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Every time Dora did something well in Saturday night’s Class 1 state championship game, Jefferson (Conception Jct.) had an answer.
A quick Falcons scoring run? Jefferson countered with a hot-shooting perimeter attack or went inside to junior big man Chase Farnan, who torched the Falcons for a game-high 30 points.
Dora changing the game with its defense? Foul problems. Dora’s two leading scorers on the night – Isaac Haney and Mason Luna – both fouled out early in the fourth quarter.
“It never really felt like we could catch a break once we worked our way back to where we wanted to be,” said Dora sophomore Waylon Masters. “It seemed like nothing would go our way.”
Playing catch-up for most of the night, the Falcons fell short of winning the first state championship in program history, losing 75-65 at JQH Arena.
“We just couldn’t get into a flow offensively,” said Falcons coach Rick Luna. “Every time we got into a flow offensively, they would come down and make some big shots. Hats off to them.”
Jefferson shot 19-for-26 from the field, including a sizzling 7-for-10 on 3s.
“You shoot that well, it’s going to be hard to beat you,” Rick Luna said.
When they weren’t making field goals, the Eagles were knocking down free throws. Jefferson, thanks to 29 fouls called on Dora, went 30-for-40 at the free throw line.
Farnan, Jefferson’s leading scorer, was 10-for-12 from the field and 10-for-11 at the free throw line. Entering the final four, he had made only 56 percent of his free throw attempts.
Dora’s leading scorer, sophomore Isaac Haney (28 points per game average), fouled out at the 7:07 mark of the fourth quarter.
Two minutes later, Dora’s Mason Luna fouled out. Both Haney and Mason Luna finished with 16 points apiece. A third Dora starter, Masters, fouled out with under 30 seconds left.
“We got a little sloppy defensively, being disciplined versus going for too many steals,” Rick Luna said.
Dora’s subs rallied the Falcons within five points in the final minute.
Jefferson never trailed after the first quarter. Dora drew even, 40-all, midway through the third quarter.
Jefferson responded by going on a 13-4 run.
“When we got it to that point, we were still playing like we were 10 (points) down,” Rick Luna said. “We didn’t calm down and execute.”
Despite shooting 24-for-59 from the field, Dora stayed close thanks to its defense. The Falcons had 20 points off 17 Jefferson turnovers.
“Their pressure is relentless,” said Jefferson coach Tim Jermain.
Jefferson led 21-10 after the first quarter. The Eagles shot 7-for-8 from the field in the first quarter, including 4-for-5 from 3-point range.
“We didn’t get off to a good start,” Rick Luna said. “That’s been one of our main focuses all year long and something we’re good at.”
Despite the loss, the future is bright for Dora.
The Falcons’ starting lineup on Saturday night featured five sophomores. Many of Dora’s players will transition to the baseball field starting next week.
“We won 30 games and I’m super proud of them,” Rick Luna said. “Anytime you go 30-2, it’s pretty salty. We look forward to having the challenge of getting back here.”
Jefferson (Conception Jct.) 75, Dora 65
Jefferson 21 10 22 22 — 75
Dora 10 19 15 21 — 65
Jefferson (28-4 overall) – Chase Farnan 30, Steven Chor 14, Nathan Jermain 11, Clayton Merrigan 11, Koby Stoll 6, Dalton Luke 3
Dora (30-2 overall) – Isaac Haney 18, Mason Luna 18, Bryson Luna 16, Auston Luna 10, Kyle Hambelton 2, Waylon Masters 1