Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, Jan. 15 newspaper on Page B1.
JACKSON — Some shooting nights are better than others, and Jackson picked the perfect night to let it fly.
The Ironmen started fast and continued to pour it on as they scored 28 points in the third quarter, cruising to a 71-47 victory over Miami Trace (8-5, 3-3 FAC) on Friday.
In total, the Ironmen (10-2, 5-1 FAC) had 10 players who scored at least one field goal on the evening.
“Our balance was unbelievable for this one,” Jackson coach Max Morrow said. “We had nine guys who played really meaningful varsity minutes and competed hard on every possession. They took on the challenge of playing against guys who are taller than them and when you looked at scorebook to see that 10 guys scored, that’s what you love to see.”
Controlling the pace
Jackson is used to not having the height advantage this point in the season. So it counters the lack of height with its speed. Speed that Miami Trace couldn’t handle from the opening tip.
The Ironmen were quick with their decisions, drove into the lane and found the open shooters on the outside.
Boston Kuhn and Caleb Wallis drilled back-to-back triples to give the Ironmen an 11-0 lead out of the gates, before finished the quarter with a 15-5 lead.
“I think we just wanted it more,” senior forward Caden Donaldson said. “I haven’t seen a team like this here in a while. We have a ton of heart and it shows on the court. Boston deserves a lot of credit because he showed us how to attack Miami Trace when he kept slashing and digging out. That helped off set their bigs.”
“We wanted to get out and run early,” Morrow said. “We turned Miami Trace’s height and turned it against them by getting in transition. We sped the game up and they wanted to slow it down. But we controlled the pace because we were making shots.”
Then Miami Trace switched to a 2-3 zone with Logan Rodgers, Andrew Guthrie and Dylan Bernard, who are each 6-feet-7, controlling the inside.
That adjustment filled the gaps and forced Jackson to play outside-in instead of inside-out basketball, which meant more contested shots from the perimeter.
The shots weren’t falling and on the other end, the Panthers began to creep back into the game. That height among the trio of big men allowed them to piece together a 13-3 run and cut the lead down to 20-18.
But Jackson scored the last five points on a triple from Caden Donaldson and a bucket from Jacob Winters for a 25-18 lead at the half.
“We got some decent looks even playing against the zone, but the shots didn’t fall,” Morrow said. “We weren’t discouraged because we played solid basketball in the first half. We just stayed with what we do and just played our game.
Let it fly
Donaldson’s 3-pointer turned out to be a bigger shot than even he imagined. It was a shot he isn’t known for taking, but it set off a chain reaction that led to a third-quarter barrage.
After a Braxton Hammond bucket opened the third, Griffin Brown scored the next five points to put the Ironmen ahead 37-21.
Then Ironmen got trigger happy from deep and couldn’t miss.
Between Brown, Wallis and Donaldson, the Ironmen buried six 3’s in the third that completely blew the game wide open and wiped away any chance of Miami Trace making a comeback.
“Coach told me all week in practice that I had to take a 3-pointer to make Miami Trace’s defense have to defend me on the perimeter,” Donaldson said. “I took the first one, and it felt good. So I decided to take another one and then one more. Every shot just felt good coming off my hands.
“I’ve always been the player to do a lot of the dirty work and fight for rebounds inside; that’s just the type of player I am,” he continued. “But that was a great third quarter. Once we got steals and offensive rebounds, we pushed the pace so they couldn’t set up in their zone. We struggled at times with the zone so using our speed was the key.”
Wallis finished with a game-high 15 points and seven assists, followed by 12 points from Kuhn.
Donaldson added 10 points and six rebounds, followed by eight points each from Brown and Evan Spires, who also had five rebounds and four assists.
Jackson returns to the court on Tuesday at Wellston, Friday at McClain in FAC action and Saturday at Circleville.