RJ Walters / For Jackson Citizen Patriot on Feb. 3
If not for 35 turnovers and a third-quarter meltdown Northwest’s upset bid against Jackson High could have had some serious merit Tuesday.
Instead, Jackson’s fullcourt pressure was ultimately unsolvable for Northwest on Tuesday, and the Vikings finally got aggressive on offense in the second half to take home a 73-58 road victory.
Jackson coach Ramsey Nichols took notice of the fact the Mounties have just eight players on their roster and exploited it for all it was worth.
Despite 19 turnovers in the first half alone, Northwest trailed by just a point.
“Going in, when you see eight guys on the roster, you feel you’ve got to make it into a track meet, and we were able to wear them down a little bit,” Nichols said. “But my hat goes off to that team and also coach (Denny) Atkins. He’s doing a heck of a job with what he has, and those guys showed a lot of fight.”
On the other end, Jackson was stagnant at times in the first 16 minutes, but improved spacing and attacking the glass paid off in the second half. Jordan Union scored 14 points and LaRon McCranie added 10, both scoring six points in the decisive third quarter.
“I think it started for us on the defensive end, in terms of just making them play an up-and-down game and getting a couple of traps turned into steals in the first two minutes (of the second half),” Nichols said. “We’re at our best when we’re sharing the basketball, especially when we are creating baskets off our defense.”
The Mounties led 25-17 midway through the second quarter, but could not sustain that cushion for long.
“When you’re only eight deep and I had three guys out there who played 32 minutes, it’s bound to wear you down after a while,” Atkins said. “It’s the unforced errors that bother me more than anything else, when (Jackson) had nothing to do with a turnover and we were just throwing it in the bleachers or over my head.”
Mistakes compounded after the intermission, when three straight turnovers, an intentional foul and a technical foul on Atkins spurred a 13-2 run by Jackson.
“It’s like I told them, they’re going to get tired of hearing ‘I’m proud of the effort,’ and I was extremely proud,” Atkins said. “But proud of the effort and a loss is like kissing your sister — it’s a good thing to do but it doesn’t give you much of a thrill. A lot of things, a lot of wounds, can be healed with a win, and we had a shot.”
Northwest big man Tyler Cummings led all scorers with 17 points to go with nine rebounds. Riley Luttenton added 12 points, and Adam Thiesse had nine points, six rebounds and three assists.
EXTRA GAME NOTES, EXCLUSIVELY ON “JUST WHAT I HEARD”
• What was a tough game already could have been worse for Northwest. Cummings suffered a concussion last Friday and wasn’t cleared to play Tuesday until about 3:30 p.m. On Monday he failed the trainer’s “concussion test” to see if he was ready to go, but he insisted he take the test again and he responded with a near double-double.
• Desmond Edwards was held to just three points for Jackson after coming into the contest averaging a team-high 12
• Jackson head coach Ramsey Nichols said Tuesday’s game was in essence a snapshot of the team’s season — inconsistent, where they allow teams to hang around one quarter and blow them out of the water with athleticism the next.
• Conrad Herring was a late arriver to the party Tuesday for the Vikings, but he left his mark nonetheless. In the final stanza he put back three offensive rebounds for six points, all in about a five-minute stretch,
• A major half-time adjustment Nichols made was to start bringing his big guys up to the elbow and throw his wings to the corner. This allowed more seams for penetration in the ever-changing zone look the Mounties were presenting.