BCT: Van Buren's Jackson sinks game-winning 3 in closing seconds to beat Gideon

BLOOMFIELD — Van Buren senior Connor Jackson came through when his team needed him the most.

Jackson and the seventh-seeded Bulldogs withstood a late rally by 10th-seeded Gideon for a 63-61 win in the first round of the 63rd Bloomfield Christmas Tournament.

Van Buren (5-1) will meet second-seeded Bernie in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Friday. Gideon (5-4) will meet 15th-seeded Holcomb in a consolation quarterfinal at 11:30 a.m. Friday. Bernie beat Holcomb 75-46 earlier Thursday.

Gideon rallied from a 14-point, third-quarter deficit to take a one-point lead with 1:25 to play before Jackson made a 3-pointer with 6 seconds left to send Van Buren into the quarterfinals.

“We’ve put him in those positions before quite a few times,” Van Buren coach Jacob Black said. “He’s failed a lot. I’ve always told him, ‘That’s the right play. As long as we’re trying to do the right basketball play, we’ll live with the results.’ Tonight, he got on the other side of the stick. I’m very proud of him.”

Black credited point guard Trey Nicholson for setting up the game-winning basket.

“I’m really proud of my point guard,” Black said. “Trey made the right read. We flattened it out so Trey could go isolation. He knew if the guy helped off, he’s supposed to dump. He makes a pass. We make an extra pass. We talk about extra passes everyday. We made that extra pass that allowed us the opportunity to take that shot.”

Jackson finished with a game-high 19 points, including five 3-pointers, as part of the balanced Van Buren attack. Jacob Brown and Nicholson scored 15 each, and Haden Barnes added 11. Brown made three 3-pointers.

Sam Williams paced Gideon with 15 points, Gage Stover had 14 and Zach Swift had 13, including a team-high three 3-pointers.

The teams combined for 18 3-pointers — 10 by Van Buren and eight by Gideon.

“Gideon scares me,” Black said. “They are a lot like us. They live by the 3. We do, too. We’ve got some good shooters. They’ve got some good shooters. I told Coach (Jordan) McGowan, I dreaded this game more than maybe any other game we’re going to be in.”

Gideon grabbed the early lead (9-4) on a pair of 3-pointers by Stover and one by Swift.

Van Buren rallied behind a trio of 3-pointers by Jackson to take a 14-9 lead. He added a fast-break layup following a defensive rebound and Barnes scored on a putback as part of a 10-0 run.

Van Buren extended its lead to seven on a putback by Brown (18-11) and to nine on a layup by Jackson (22-13) following one of three Gideon first-quarter turnovers.

Nicholson drove the lane for two points to start the second quarter, extenimng Van Buren’s lead to 24-13.

Gideon trimmed its deficit to five (26-21) on a 3-pointer by Swift, but Van Buren’s Brown, Nicholson and Hayden Hillis made 3-pointers during their team’s 13-5 quarter-closing run.

Van Buren led 39-28 at halftime.

Brevin Vires scored a half-closing 3-point play to cut into Van Buren’s game-high 14-point lead.

Van Buren pushed its lead to 14 twice in the third quarter. Jackson’s 3-pointer gave Van Buren a 49-35 lead and Nicholson’s driving layup gave Van Buren a 51-37 lead.

Gideon scored eight of the final 11 points of the third to cut Van Buren’s lead to 54-45 by the start of the fourth.

Logan Woodard’s 3-pointer sliced Van Buren’s lead to 56-52 and Swift’s 3 cut Gideon’s deficit to 60-57.

Swift followed with a putback with 3:10 to play and Jackson sank a floater in the lane with 1:25 to go for a 61-60 lead.

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GIDEON — Vires 2(1) 0-0 7. Williams 6(0) 3-4 15. Stover 3(2) 2-4 14. Swift 1(3) 2-2 13. Woodard 1(2) 0-0 8. Buchanan 0. Manning 2(0) 0-0 4. Totals 15(8) 7-10 61.

VAN BUREN — Jackson 2(5) 0-0 19, Barnes 5(0) 1-4 11. Nicholson 5(1) 2-5 15. Brown 2(3) 2-2 15. Hayden Hillis 0(1) 0-1 3. Hill 0. Marvin 0. Totals 14(10) 5-12 63.

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