Jefferson keeps Hammond pointed in right direction

January 17, 1993|By Michael Richman | Michael Richman,Contributing Writer

Kris Jefferson is relying on a transition game this season.

As a sophomore and junior on Hammond's boys basketball squad, Jefferson had the luxury of roaming between the No. 2 and No. 3 spots on offense. That's not the case this year, however. On a team seeking leadership, coach Jack Burke moved the senior to point guard.

It's a switch that Jefferson has "struggled with at times, but other times he's been brilliant," Burke said.

The Golden Bears crave for the times that he's on. Going into the weekend Jefferson was the team's leading scorer (13.5 average) and second in assists to junior Kelvin Stevens, who also plays the point. Jefferson also is one of Howard County's top scorers.

"I see who has the hot hand and I look to get the ball to them," Jefferson said. "Anybody can have a great night. If that's their night, you get the ball to them."

Jefferson, 5-foot-11, tries to involve every player in Hammond's motion offense, admitting that "contrary to popular belief, I'm not the center of the offense." Nevertheless, his impatience with teammates occasionally gets the best of him.

"Some of the times when we're down, I look to create my own shots," Jefferson said. "We run an offense with screens and movement without the ball. If a guy hits [the shot] after coming off a screen, I'll come right back to him. If he's missing, I'll give it to someone else."

Burke observed that Jefferson has a tendency to force shots, particularly late in the game. It's one flaw the coach wants Jefferson to work on, in addition to an erratic jump shot.

"He thinks it's his responsibility to try and win games," Burke said. "We're trying to teach him that that may be true, but it must be in the context of team play."

Stevens said: "When he takes shots now, it kind of looks like he's gunning the ball. Sometimes, it seems he's out of control, but he's not."

Jefferson's offensive value came to light during the Wes Unseld LTC Holiday Tournament, the same stretch in which Hammond (4-5, 2-1) played its best ball of the season.

The Golden Bears won one of three games against tough competition in the tourney, but held their own in both losses.

First, Jefferson tallied 12 points and 11 assists in a 60-56 loss to Broadneck, now ranked No. 14 in the area.

Hammond defeated Randallstown next, 52-48, with Jefferson scoring 19 points, including the game-winning jumper with 1:07 left.

Jefferson had 22 points and eight assists in the finale, a 48-47 loss to Mount St. Joseph.

"When he's playing at the level he's capable of playing, he can be a dominant player," Burke said. "He can definitely take over a game with both scoring and passing."

That opportunity wasn't available for Jefferson in Hammond's next game, a 74-66 win over Atholton Jan. 9. He missed the Atholton game, because an incident at school led to his suspension for five days.

Jefferson returned last Wednesday in Hammond's 75-59 loss to Glenelg. But the layoff from practice left him rusty. Playing sporadically in the first half and nearly the entire second, he scored only seven points, all in the fourth period.

An all-around athlete, Jefferson stars in soccer and track and field. He led Hammond's soccer team in scoring in 1992 and placed fifth in the state in the long jump last spring. He guarantees a first-place long jump finish this year.

"Physically, he's one of the best all-around athletes we've ever had," Burke said of Jefferson. "He's got quickness and a good vertical leap. He can twist himself into a pretzel in mid-air and make some tough shots."

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