Both basketball teams of Jackson County Comprehensive High School were in need of a victory – one that would set the tone prior to them entering region play. The girls’ didn’t have any trouble putting away Washington-Wilkes High School while the boys’ match came down to the final seconds.
For the Lady Panthers, Mason Garland opened the night with a 3-pointer and from there the Panthers leaped out to a 10-0 lead. Nothing seemed to be going the Tigers’ way throughout much of the first half. JCCHS took advantage of the Tigers’ struggles, which stemmed from a plague of turnovers. JCCHS held a 19-0 advantage over WWHS before they finally put two on the board. Whatever mistakes the Panthers committed were overshadowed by their 33-11 lead at halftime.
With a 22-point lead, it’s easy to see why the Panthers played a bit lackadaisical in the second half. The Tigers never gained enough momentum to make comeback due to the outstanding shooting from Jackson County in the first half. The Tigers scored just 15 points in the second half and JCCHS went on to win 57-26.
“The girls had an outstanding team effort and played outstanding defense. Savannah [Roncadori ] and Gabbi [Kastner ] got into early foul trouble and the Beah did an outstanding job of filling the gaps,” said Head Coach John Hawley.
The boys had a game filled with much more suspense. As the clock began to run out, the Tigers sent Jackson County to the free throw line with the hopes of doing the unthinkable with just 0.8 seconds left to play.
“They are an athletic team. You can’t take a break off. The difference in that game was being able to pull down those rebounds and limit them to one look. We called a timeout to tighten up a little bit. That team won’t quit. We jumped on them and then sat back for a minute. We don’t have the luxury to sit back especially when we are missing guys,” said Head Coach Britt Beaver.
Xavier Harper put two on his stat sheet in the opening minutes of the game. Hakeem Samuals drilled a shot from the charity stripe and added a put back jumper to extend its lead. Just like the Lady Panthers, the boys sealed a 10-0 lead; however, it was quickly diminished as Washington-Wilkes nailed two shots back-to-back.
Jacob Lewis produced a sensational move to the basket and a long shot from behind the arc by the Panthers kept them slightly ahead of the Tigers. WWHS began to find an answer to the Panthers scoring attack and tied the game at 25-a-piece near the bottom of the second half. The battle began to heat up when the Tigers took a 1-point lead in the fourth. The play that most certainly changed the game came from the hands of Chase Dunlap who sealed a 3-pointer to give the Panthers a 2-point lead.
“That was a big three. When he hit that three, I think [their] confidence grew and they realized they could do it,” Beaver said.“Jacob really played a great game and kept his composure. He had to play the point guard; last year he did not play the point guard. He can shoot really well. It was a great game for him. I was proud of him,” Beaver stated.
One second was not enough time for the Tigers to get a decent shot off. The Panthers took a 47-44 win and Beaver was excited to pick up his first win of the season; the Panthers lost Mo Wade but the team proved they can get the job done without their star player.
“We needed to get that. The kids have played really hard and we’ve been close…to be able to get one with all the illnesses, injuries and missing people really boosted their confidence,” stated Beaver.