JACKSON CENTER — Anna took a big step toward to winning the Shelby County Athletic League title outright on Friday.
The Rockets ran away in the last 12 minutes to earn a 53-38 victory over Jackson Center in front of a near-sellout crowd. The Tigers pulled within 27-22 early in the third quarter but the Rockets went on a 20-6 run after that to pull away.
The win completed a season sweep for Anna of Jackson Center. The Rockets won the team’s first matchup 59-38 on Dec. 30.
Anna (12-3, 8-1) takes its first lead in SCAL standings this season with the win. Jackson Center (14-3, 8-2) is in second place ahead of Fort Loramie (10-5, 6-3), which didn’t play on Friday.
Isaac Lininger scored nine points in the first quarter to help Anna take a 13-4 lead. Lininger added five more in the second to help the squad take a 27-14 halftime lead.
Jackson Center scored the first eight points of the third quarter to pull within five but Anna ended the quarter with a 13-1 run to take a 40-24 lead. The Rockets continued their hot shooting in the fourth and led by as many 21 points.
Anna took advantage of free-throw opportunities in the win. The squad made 16-of-18 free-throw attempts while Jackson Center made 3-of-7.
Lininger and Bart Bixler each scored 18 for Anna while Isaiah Masteller added nine.
Aidan Reichert led Jackson Center with 16 points, 10 of which came in the fourth. Clay Akers added nine points.
The Tigers had a 22-20 rebounding advantage. Jackson Center committed 11 turnovers while Anna had six.
Anna will host Versailles in a nonconference showdown on Saturday.
The Tigers, which are ranked No. 1 in Division III in the state Associated Press poll, beat Minster 46-43 in a Midwest Athletic Conference game on Friday to improve to 18-0. Both the Rockets and Versailles will likely be the top seeds in the Dayton Div. III sectional tournament.
Jackson Center will host Minster on Saturday. The Wildcats dropped to 11-5 with the loss to Versailles on Friday.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.