Between the first and second quarters of South’s season-opening defeat against South Salem, students seemed overly excited about something. Junior Jay Elmore had just scored 15 points in the first quarter, including back-to-back three-pointers to close the period. This was an incredible feat to achieve at any level of basketball, let alone high school, and college scouts were already beginning to take note of the talented prospect.
Although the Axemen got off to a rough start at 1-5, they went on to pick up a big-time victory on Dec. 22 against perennial powerhouse Jesuit, driven by a stellar performance from Elmore. Putting up 24 points, Elmore’s effort was just enough to hold back a late surge from Jesuit in a game that would begin to change the Axemen’s season. Following this major victory, South went on to win two out of three games, earning second place in a Portland tournament. During the tournament, Elmore led the team with 17 points per game, once again boosting the team’s morale.
In addition to these performances early in the season, Elmore went on to shock the Southwest Conference during league play. A Jan. 20 date with the struggling Roseburg Indians served as a stepping stone toward the rest of the season.
Throughout the game, the Indians controlled play and built up a lead as deep as 13 points. Going into the fourth quarter, the Axemen needed a spark to make the comeback and pull out the victory. Elmore provided not only a spark, but also a devastating blaze that allowed the Axemen to erase their deficit.
In another 15-point quarter, Elmore scored numerous three pointers and added a couple steals to carry the Axemen to a nail-biting victory. This game cemented the Axemen as one of the powers of the Southwest conference, with Elmore as their sparkling centerpiece.
“That game against Roseburg was really important because it showed us how good we can be when we play together and play fast,” Elmore said.
Unlike many high school basketball stars, Elmore earned his way to the team leader role through pure dedication. He showed early promise as a basketball player, but it was his work ethic that took him to the next level.
“I’ve always been putting in work before school, after school, and at night because I’ve always been really driven to reach my goals,” Elmore said.
Through his three years of middle school, Elmore played high level AAU basketball for Team Flight, a major contender for Oregon state titles at the time. It was during this period that Elmore proved he meant business.
In an almost clichéd manner, Elmore was initially put on the Team Flight B team, but, as time rolled on, he continued to improve, eventually earning his way not only onto the A team roster, but also to the leader position. After his middle school basketball days, Elmore opened the floodgates during his freshman year at South.
In an artistic display of scoring excellence, Elmore averaged 22 points per game on the freshman team, including a stunning 37-point outing against South Medford. It was after that game former freshman coach Don Brown dubbed Elmore “the Moses of Offense.”
After that season’s madness, Elmore moved through a decent sophomore varsity campaign, averaging six points and one rebound per game. The summer following his sophomore year, Elmore had a dazzling performance consisting of eight three-pointers against a well known AAU team sponsored by NBA star Avery Bradley.
After witnessing this feat, the team invited Elmore to play for them. Following this achievement, Elmore had no trouble becoming what he is now, an absolutely dominant performer with a chance to win Southwest Conference player of the year.
How’s that for a happy ending?