The Cougars, somewhat undersized and slower than the flashy Thoroughbreds, made Bowling Brook work hard to build a 23-15 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Although Bowling Brook's hot shooting and second - and often times third - putbacks kept the feisty Cougars at arm's length, the Thoroughbreds took advantage of some Jefferson indecision on offense. Implementing a tight three-quarter court press, the Thoroughbreds forced the Cougars guards into mental errors which led to turnovers.
And an error against the quickness of Bowling Brook's Jesse Corley and Ian Brennan was often a fatal one.
"We knew this was their first game," Jackson said. "Our gameplan going in was based on the belief that (Jefferson) probably didn't have the entire package in."
Fagan stabilized the inside game for his Cougars when he substituted William Reno into the middle. Reno used his height and aggressive rebounding to slow what had been Thoroughbred domination in the paint.
That, however, was a temporary fix at best. Bowling Brook built a 45-23 halftime lead holding the Cougars to a solitary basket in the second quarter - a 3-pointer by Cedric Bush.
"We wanted to mix our defenses but mostly, we needed to play better all around," Jackson said."We had a couple of disappointing losses in our last few games, but we actually learned from them. They were confidence builders."
In the third quarter Jefferson seemingly solved the riddle of the Bowling Brook press and played back into the game. A 7-1 run, led by Tony Shanton, pulled Jefferson to within 15; a cold spell knocked them right back out of it.
"We had good bench play, we had good play all around." Jackson smiled. "It was a good team win."
Corley finished with 22 points while Brennan had 18. Damon McDowell led Jefferson, who had 10 players score, with nine.