NORTH AUGUSTA --- Al Young knew he'd need a strong shooting night and an even better defensive effort from his group of North Augusta boys when region opponent Lexington came to town Friday night.
The North Augusta coach got neither in a 78-52 loss to the Wildcats.
"I don't think we played well at all," he said. "We certainly didn't shoot the ball well, and that's what you have to do against that zone."
Lexington spent the night shuffling back and forth between a 2-3 zone and a 3-2 zone, and the Yellow Jackets' offense broke down in front of both.
Outsized underneath the basket, the home team settled for off-balanced shots in the paint and hurried 3-point attempts.
Neither worked in what quickly turned into the home team's fourth region loss in five games.
"We work on (beating the zone). We stress it. We know we're going to see it from a lot of the teams in our region," Young said. "But tonight we just couldn't do the things we needed to do to beat it."
North Augusta was down by only nine points at the half and narrowed the gap to four in the third quarter. Cam Alston hit a 3-pointer from the left corner in front of the Yellow Jackets' student section to wake up the gym and cut it to 41-37 with 4:03 left in the third quarter.
But the Yellow Jackets crumbled defensively, and Lexington sophomore Shaq Roland immediately responded by scoring two quick baskets. He went on to put up 20 of his 32 points in the second half.
"In the first half we didn't play that bad. We were just as good as they were," North Augusta point guard Austin Davis said.
"But in the second half No. 3 (Roland) took over. He shot the ball really well, and we just couldn't stop him."
Roland attempted most of his shots from the paint against a North Augusta team that gave up too many second-chance points on offensive rebounds.
Lexington's David Burns added 21 points, and the Yellow Jackets were outscored 28-11 by the Wildcats in the fourth quarter.
"We've still got some games to go, but every game is certainly big from now on," Young said. "We've put ourselves in that position."
Senior forward Devon Davis led the Yellow Jackets with 19 points. Junior Jaylon Myers added 12.
Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.