Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

December 12, 2013

Jaguars look to put together 40-solid minutes in the Valley Friday

Jay Neal
Jacksonville Daily Progress

ATHENS —

Jacksonville College's Jaguars will close out the fall semester by traveling to Athens this evening for a rare Friday night Region XIV skirmish against No. 16-ranked Trinity Valley Community College.

The game will be both school's final action of 2013.

The contest will pit two schools that are at opposite ends of the conference standings.

JC is 4-8 overall, 0-3 in Region XIV, while the Cards are 13-1, 3-0.

JC last played last Saturday when the Jags gave Tyler Junior College a run for its money before losing 73-70.

Despite his team's record, JC head coach Jody Bailey is not ready to take a plunge off of a tall building anytime soon.

“There's an old saying about the Valley (Trinity Valley) not losing games that are played in the Valley,” Bailey said. “We know that it will be extremely tough to beat those guys at their place, but I really believe the game will come down to whichever team can take care of the simple things like making layups, making free throws and protecting the ball.

“We haven't done a good job in some of those departments this season and as I have told our team, if we can start doing the little things that are necessary to win basketball games, then we will be fine.”

After starting the second half in less than stellar fashion, the Jags were able to make the necessary adjustments and closed the game out strong last week agaisnt Tyler.

“For some reason we have struggled during portions of the second half this year,” Bailey said. “We have to fix that and we have to play 40-solid minutes of basketball to have a shot at beating people in this league (Texas Eastern Conference).”

Leading the Jags statistically thus far is Chris Campbell, who is averaging 13.8 points and 5.3 rebounds an outing and Raheem Watts (10.9 ppg/5.0 ppg).

Campbell is a 6'3” sophomore from Houston while Watts, a 6'7” forward hails from Greenville, SC.

Campbell played at McMurry University in Abilene last season.

The Cards are one of the hottest teams in the league at the moment. Trinity Valley has opened the season by going 13-1 overall, 3-0 in Region XIV.

“I think it is pretty obvious now that everyone in the conference is chasing Kilgore, Trinity Valley and Lamar State-Port Arthur,” Bailey said. “They (Trinity Valley) have four or five kids that are special players and Octavius Ellis is solid in all phases of the game.”

Trinity Valley's go-to man is 6'-10” Octavius Ellis.

Ellis has been putting in 14.3 points and 8.3 rebounds a night.

Ellis previously played briefly at Cincinnati, before off-the-court issues led him to Trinity Valley.

In late October, Ellis verbally committed to Arizona State of the Pac 12 Conference.

Bailey noted improved efforts from several Jags in their last game and that fact serves as encouragement to Bailey and staff.

“We have struggled out the gate and we have a lot of brand new guys,” Bailey said. “Both of our point guards have been continuing to learn on the job and their inexperience shows at times.

“But at this point I'm happy to see growth over the prize and, and as I have said all along, I really think come March this team will be right where it needs to be and a lot of that is a tribute to the boys' good character and good attitude.”