By RJ Walters / For the Jackson Citizen Patriot
Taking on a bigger, stronger Lansing All-Star Team armed with a pair of Division-I recruits, the Jackson All-Star Team proved there is no match for heart and hustle, winning a hotly-contested inaugural 127 North-South Senior Classic at JCC Sunday.
Lansing continued to feed the ball to Michigan State recruit Alex Gauna of Eaton Rapids down the stretch, but it was a pair of Jackson High grads who had something to say about the quality of basketball in the area by helping their team gut out an 88-80 victory.
Jordan Union put up 20 points along with a dazzling display of pinpoint passing and constant defensive pressure to earn MVP honors and Desmond Edwards chipped in 13 points, including four 3-pointers.
“I didn’t take this game for a joke, I take it seriously. I came and played my heart out and we came out with a good win,” Union said. “People would say Lansing has more ballers than us because they have more high schools than us, but I believe we have more heart. Coming from Jackson, a small town, if play together anything is possible.”
Napoleon head coach Jim Dutton, who shared coaching duties with Ramsey Nichols of Jackson High, said he was amazed at how quickly the team gelled right in front of his eyes.
“It was a lot of fun and I thought they played together the best they possibly could do for one day,” he said. “It was great being with some players who you hear about, but I never see play because I’m at my games. It was a great group of guys to be around.”
He said Union and Edwards were the sparkplugs behind the engine, but it was commitment to hard-nosed defense that kept them ahead.
The 6-foot-8 Gauna scored 17 points, but was forced out of the post time and again, and Joe Blanchette of Owosso added 16 points.
Jackson forced 17 turnovers in the contest, and held Central Michigan preferred walk-on Auston Barnes (Waverly) to four points.
Dutton acknowledged lockdown defensive efforts from Conner Clark (Parma Western), Michael Parker (Michigan Center) and Braxton Southwell (Onsted).
Napoleon graduate C.J. Adams scored 11 including an emphatic “and-one” jam and Justin Edmunds (Albion) and Clark both scored eight.