Jackson Edges Eureka, Heads to Final Four

The Jackson Indians take down the Eureka Wildcats in a defensive battle that nudges them into the State Semifinals.

It took a gritty defensive performance and some clutch shooting from the free-throw line, but the Jackson Indians are headed to the Class 6 State Semifinals. After capturing the District Tournament with a pair of nail-biting victories, the Tribe did it again, but this time on a bigger stage.

In the State Quarterfinals, the Indians outlasted the Eureka Wildcats 40-36, catapulting them into the Semis. The win was Jackson’s fourth straight and sixth in their last seven games after a middling stretch where they traded wins and losses for a month.

The Indians seem to have found their identity, and it’s built around hard-nosed defensive play. During the four-game streak no opponent has been able to score 40 points against them, and they are hitting their shots when they need to, while smothering opposing offenses.


The game against Eureka followed the same script. Jackson won the war of attrition in the first quarter with an 8-7 advantage, building the slimmest of leads, but it was one they wouldn’t relinquish. They would build on that lead in the second frame with a 12-8 mark that featured three buckets from Judd Thoma.

That gave the Indians a 20-15 lead at the half, and sent them to the locker room knowing the game plan was working.

In the third, it was obvious the Wildcats were panicked, as they resorted to fouling to try and claw their way back into the game, but the Tribe made their shots. They managed to extend their lead with an 8-5 third quarter thanks to clutch shooting at the line from Thoma, Kaedmon Winborne and Clayton Ernst. Blayne Harris made the only bucket for the Indians in the frame.

The final stanza of the day was more or less rinse and repeat. Eureka continued to foul and Jackson continued to eat the clock and make their bones at the line. They hit 8-of-10 free throws in the last eight minutes and staved off a Wildcat attack that was starting to find a rhythm. The Indians were outscored 16-12 in the fourth, but managed to keep Eureka at arm’s length until the buzzer sounded.

That sent the Tribe into a frenzy as the realization of a State Title just became one step closer to becoming a reality.

Thoma paced the scoring with his 14 points and was good for 4-of-6 from the charity stripe. He made five buckets in the game, which was just two less than the rest of the team combined. Ernst was next in line with his nine points, five of which came from the stripe. Harris had eight and Winborne managed seven, in a game where points were at a premium and everyone chipped in.

The win sends Jackson to the Final Four, but it pits them against a dangerous foe. On St. Pathrick’s day they will take on the Staley Falcons, who are 28-2, and won their first round matchup 81-37.

The Jackson defense will have to be on their toes in this one, against one of the more dangerous offenses in the state. We’ll find out next week if this group of young men will be playing for all the marbles in the State Finals.

Good luck Indians!

Jackson Edges Eureka, Heads to Final Four
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