Jackson boys basketball surges past Fort Zumwalt West in second half of state sectional

Thursday, March 9, 2017
Jackson's Jacob Friess is congratulated after the Indians defeated Fort Zumwalt West 67-53 in a Class 5 sectional Wednesday in Hillsboro, Missouri. Friess finished with a team-high 15 points.
Andrew J. Whitaker

HILLSBORO, Mo. -- Getting hot might've been the worst thing to happen to the Jackson boys basketball team Wednesday night, but it was how the Indians responded that propelled them forward.

Despite trailing by 10 points in the first quarter and closing the first half lacking the necessary assertiveness on offense, Jackson opened the second half on a decisive 16-0 run to vault to victory over Fort Zumwalt West, 67-53, in a Class 5 sectional at Jefferson College.

The result puts the Indians (19-10) back in a state quarterfinal for the fourth time in five years, and sees them rebound from a sectional loss a season ago.

"I know it sounds cliche, but we've talked about the process -- we've talked about the chop wood, carry water thing all year," Jackson coach Darrin Scott said. "... Early in the year, I thought our composure, we'd lose it, and it would really affect our play. I feel like that's something we've grown in. I thought tonight was a good example.

Jackson coach Darrin Scott watches from the sidelines during Wednesday's game.

"Early, especially, we could have lost our composure, and we didn't."

Against the Jaguars (18-10), Jackson found its mid-range groove early in the second quarter, going 6 of 6 from the floor to open the period, but that success created a lazy approach on offense that saw the Indians finish the quarter 0 of 12.

Jackson rectified that issue to begin the third quarter, and it got the breathing room it needed to earn a shot at defending state champion Chaminade in a quarterfinal Saturday at Lindenwood University. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Chaminade defeated Pattonville 90-75 in another sectional Wednesday night.

"When we got a few shots to fall, we just turned into we're going to make quick shots to get a lead, and that never works out," Scott said. "Hopefully that's something we can learn from.

"The third quarter, I thought we did a much better job of getting the ball inside, attacking the basket, and we were still able to get some steals in transition, which was key for us.

"To go from down 10 in the first quarter to up 10 in the third quarter tells you how well you played in that stretch to turn that around."

Jackson students cheer during the class 5 sectionals game between Jackson and Fort Zumwalt West Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at Jefferson College in Hillsboro. Jackson won 67-53.
Andrew J. Whitaker ~ Southeast Missourian

While the Indians figured things out offensively, they did enough defensively to limit FZW. The Jaguars finished 16 of 46 (34.8 percent) from the floor, and dangerous scoring guard Jake Hampton was limited to just six points, though he did have seven assists and four steals.

Michael Cessna led Fort Zumwalt West with 15 points, while Marquis Majors added 13 points and Spencer Strode had 12 points.

"I was really pleased with how we guarded Hampton, and I thought Strode, when he did score, it was really tough," Scott said. "He made some plays, but they were tough plays. ... I thought we did a great job on those two."

The Jaguars got as close as seven points midway through the fourth quarter, but Jackson responded with an 8-2 run while holding FZW without a field goal for the first 5 minutes, 21 seconds of the period.

"We went to a 2-3 (zone) late, and I feel like that took some wind out of their offensive sails. And I felt like we did a good job of getting out on shooters," Scott said. "... We kind of stymied them a little bit, and I thought our guys did a really good job of rotating in our defense."

Jacob Friess paced the Indians with 15 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals before fouling out in the game's final minute. Pete Lake and Cameron Hester each added 13 points for Jackson, which finished the night 25 of 52 (48.1 percent) from the floor, including 14 of 24 (58.3 percent) in the second half.

Early in the game, Fort Zumwalt West used an 11-1 swing to break out to a 13-3 advantage. But Jackson called a timeout and rallied the troops, spurring an 8-0 run to end the quarter, with Hester laying the ball in inside the final minute to slice the Jaguars' lead to 13-11 after one quarter.

The Indians opened the second quarter by hitting their first six shots from the floor, with a Friess jumper giving Jackson a 24-18 lead with 3:47 left in the period. But as the shots stopped falling, FZW pulled back even at 24-all on a pair of free throws from Cessna.

Brett Varner converted a pair of free throws on the other end, and Jackson took a 26-24 lead into halftime.

Jackson broke things open with a 16-0 run to start the third quarter, as more aggressive shot selection saw the Indians finish their first nine field goals at the rim en route to a 42-24 advantage with just under four minutes left in the third.

The Jaguars closed the quarter on an 8-0 swing that cut the gap back to single digits, 50-42, going into the fourth quarter.

FZW got as close as seven in the fourth, but Jackson was able to weather the storm. Lake hit a 3-pointer and followed it up with a three-point play in a 30-second stretch, as he scored eight straight points for the Indians and pushed the gap back to double digits.

Next up for the Indians? The 23-5 defending state champion Red Devils.

"We're going to have to play a great game. We're not going to lie about it," Scott said. "But for our kids, we're going to have to come in with confidence, be aggressive, do the things we need to do and figure out how to try to keep them from scoring as much as possible.

"They've got so many guys that can score. Offense is going to be key -- that we really value possessions -- and we're going to try to see if we can find a way to slow them down defensively."


FORT ZUMWALT WEST (53) -- Spencer Strode 12, Jake Hampton 6, Marquis Majors 13, Josh White 2, Michael Cessna 15, John Chestnut 3, Alex Vollmar 2. FG 16, FT 19-26, F 20. (3-pointers: Strode, Chestnut. Fouled out: White.)

JACKSON (67) -- Desmond Morris 10, Gavin Harris 8, Pete Lake 13, Jacob Friess 15, Cameron Hester 13, Payton Salyer 2, Brett Varner 6. FG 25, FT 14-21, F 19. (3-pointers: Morris, Lake, Friess. Fouled out: None.)

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