By RJ Walters / For the Jackson Citizen Patriot
The Jackson Christian High School boys basketball team made all the right decisions Friday in a 53-35 victory over Litchfield that has put the Royals in the driver’s seat for a league title.
Sam Kintigh had 11 points, four assists and four steals in just his second varsity game for the Royals (9-6, 8-3 Southern Central Athletic Association) and Jackson Christian’s trapping zone defense put the Terriers on ice after they got off to a quick start.
The Royals hold a two-game division lead on Litchfield (7-8, 6-5) with five games remaining.
Litchfield led 13-9 after the first quarter behind seven points from post presence Jeremy Schlumm, making Jackson Christian coach Bob Stanton abandon his man-to-man defense.
The move paid off.
Schlumm was held scoreless the rest of the way and the Terriers’ perimeter game was far from effective, as Litchfield was just 2-for-18 from 3-point range.
“We kind of took a gamble, because I had heard their players were hitting 3s, but that’s why I think they’ve been up and down,” Stanton said. “When they hit the 3s they’re in it. … We did much better with fronting (Stephen Sykes) after the start though, and it made a difference.”
Sykes had six points and eight rebounds for the Terriers and Scottie Steele led Litchfield with eight points.
Litchfield coach Jeremy Addelman said his team better shape up quickly or what has been a positive season could quickly turn sour.
“We’re not shooting well, that’s obvious; we got outhustled big time,” he said. “I kept trying to get them going and get something up tempo, but quite frankly I’ve got some attitudes to take care of on the team.”
The Royals had 11 assists as a team and four players scored at least nine points.
Spenser Hunt had 12 to go with seven rebounds and Patrick Robey added 12 points, but it was Kintigh who really stood out.
“Kintigh was a game changer tonight. We moved him up (from the junior varsity) last game, and we said, ‘Hey, we’re going to start him,’ and he does a lot,” Stanton said. “He’s so quick and just has good basketball sense and scoring double figures his second varsity game is pretty good. I was kind of hesitant to start him with only three practices and one game with him.”
EXTRA GAME NOTES, EXCLUSIVELY ON “JUST WHAT I HEARD”:
• Jackson Christian overcame several losses Friday night. Two players recently quit the team and another has been mired in academic inelgibility issues.
• Although he didn’t score a single point, Royals’ forward Sam Parham was the definition of team player Friday. He tallied eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.
• One of Litchfield’s biggest problems was rushing shots and not looking for better options. Jeremy Cornish was pulled from the game twice by Addelman for forcing shots to the rim. He ended up 0-for-8, with an 0-for-4 effort from 3-point range.
• Litchfield forward Stephen Sykes showcased some wonderful footwork in the post at times, utilizing several up-fakes and spins, but he just couldn’t put together a complete game, especially once Jackson Christian started harassing him with their zone.
• Although the Royals have a two-game lead in the SCAA Central the race is not over. The two teams meet again on Feb. 23 in Litchfield, so if Jackson Christian falters once down the stretch and the Terriers win the re-match it could get interesting.