VANDALIA — Jackson Center continued the Shelby County Athletic League defensive clinic that Fort Loramie started on Friday at Vandalia-Butler’s Student Activity Center.
The Tigers shut down Cedarville and held on late to earn a 33-30 victory in a Division IV district final. The win came less than two hours after the Redskins posted a 59-37 win over Hamilton New Miami in Friday’s first final.
Cedarville entered the game averaging 60 points per game but struggled to get half that on Friday. Leading scorer Colby Cross hit his average by scoring 17 points but Trent Koenig, who averages 16.3, managed seven points.
“That Cross kid and Koenig kid are great offensive players,” Jackson Center coach Scott Elchert said. “… We put Christopher (Elchert) on Cross and (Garrett) Heitkamp on Koenig. Cross got off to a good start and was getting a little too deep on us. Heitkamp switched and did a really good job on Cross and Christopher did a really good job on Koenig.”
It’s the program’s 11th overall district title and its sixth in the last nine years.
“We’re proud of that,” Elchert said. “We’re still playing basketball in March, which is a good thing.”
Jackson Center junior forward Aidan Reichert scored eight of his 17 points in the third quarter to help the squad build a 31-22 leading heading into the fourth.
“In the locker room, Coach said that I need to get some more post touches and find my shooters, and that’s what happened,” Reichert said. “It worked out for us.”
Cross came through and hit several big shots down the stretch to get the squad back in it, including a 3 from the left wing with 3:52 left that cut the gap to 31-30.
“We came right out and had some defensive breakdowns, and bam,” Elchert said. “Those defensive breakdowns led to us going stagnant offensively too. That became an issue, but luckily we had enough defensive stops in us to hang on there.”
Jackson Center had a long possession later in the quarter that ate over 90 seconds off the clock. Camdyn Reese capped it off with a basket off the glass with 43 seconds left to give the Tigers a three-point lead.
“When we got the ball there with about two minutes left, we weren’t necessarily looking to do that, but the situation dictated that, because once it got below a minute, they really had to chase us because they only had three team fouls,” Elchert said.
Cedarville missed a shot on its next two possessions and fouled Jackson Center players, who each missed one-and-one opportunities.
The last miss came with 4.5 seconds left. Jackson Center had accumulated four fouls in the half to that point and twice fouled the Indians as they tried to work the ball up the court.
Cross took an inbounds pass with 0.4 seconds left and heaved it at the basket, but it sailed about four feet to the left and hit the floor.
Jackson Center (21-5) advances to face the winner of the Springfield Emmanuel Christian vs. Cincinnati Christian district final in a regional semifinal at 8 p.m. on Tuesday at University of Dayton Arena. Emmanuel and Cincinnati Christian played in the third district final on Friday in Vandalia and were not finished at press time.
“We know enough about (each of) them, but we’ll know more after tonight,” Elchert said.
The teams traded baskets early but the Tigers hit consecutive 3-pointers to take a 12-6 lead. The teams then traded 3s to a 15-9 score at the end of the first quarter.
Reichert hit an early 3 to give Jackson Center an 18-11 lead in the second quarter but the Indians finished on a 7-4 run to pull within 22-18 at halftime.
Koenig made a basket with 3:46 left in the third to pull the Indians within 24-22 but the Tigers scored the last seven points of the quarter.
The Tigers will now refocus on their regional semifinal at UD Arena. The site normally hosts all Southwest district finals but was unavailable this year due to hosting the Atlantic 10 women’s tournament. All regional games will be at the arena next week.
“This was a little bit different feel,” Reichert said of playing a district game in Vandalia. “It’s a little smaller, but I liked it. It was louder and more fun.”
The Tigers lost in a regional final against St. Henry last year.
“I think so,” Reichert said when asked if he thinks the team can win the regional this season and earn a state berth. “The coaches are going to come out with great scouting reports, and I think we’re going to do it.”
Jackson Center will look for better free-throw shooting next week. The squad was 3 for 10 from the line on Friday; Reichert was 2 for 7.
“That just became one of those things tonight,” Elchert said. “Aidan’s probably a 70 percent free-throw shooter (on the season). Those nights happen.”
Cedarville finishes 20-6 overall.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.