NORTH AUGUSTA — Yellow Jackets coach Al Young notices his team sometimes tries to push the tempo a bit too much.
But North Augusta’s defense gave the team plenty of chances to create space on the scoreboard in Friday’s 54-40 win over South Aiken.
“I was pretty impressed with the defense,” Young said.
With steals, strips, blocks and deflections, North Augusta did well enough in turning stops into scoring opportunities, though it did turn it over right back in some stretches.
The Yellow Jackets (11-5, 2-1 in Region 5-AAAA), never trailed in the game and held the Thoroughbreds to only two points in the second quarter.
Leading by five after the first period, North Augusta jumped out to a comfortable lead. T.J. Sheppard got the quarter, in which the Yellow Jackets outscored the Thoroughbreds 13-2, started with a basket and JaShawn Brooks hit a 3-pointer.
Sheppard led all North Augusta scorers with 15 points while Tavarez Hall added 10, with his final basket completing an 8-0 run. The field goal pushed North Augusta’s lead to 41-20 early in the fourth quarter.
South Aiken still battled despite the large deficit.
Derrick West became a force inside in the last eight minutes, putting in scores around the rim and sinking all five of his free-throw attempts. He posted 11 of his game-high 17 points in the fourth.
North Augusta got huge baskets when needed, with Steven Copeland scoring five points in a row and Corey Hall adding his two field goals late.
“We just got to continue winning,” Young said. “If we can win, then we’ll be in good shape (in the region).”
In the girls game, the Lady Jackets easily defeated South Aiken, 58-31, to move to 2-1 in region play.
Five North Augusta players had at least two field goals in the opening quarter, when the pressure defense bothered South Aiken.
The transition game led to several close shot attempts, with Arielle Houston stealing the ball by jumping in front of a pass before she converted the easy layup in the first quarter.
Scoring 16 of the game’s first 17 points, North Augusta (13-3) never led by fewer than 11 points after the first quarter.
Though some foul trouble forced North Augusta coach Jared Adamson to switch players in and out, the Lady Jackets’ defense still stifled South Aiken’s attack.
Kyasia Youmans was the most consistent offensive threat for the Lady Thoroughbreds, driving to the hoop to get her 10 points.
But Jasmine Coach’s 12 points led a North Augusta offense that had six players score at least six points.
“We got to make sure we continue to improve,” Adamson said. “It’s important to not get satisfied.”