The Anna and Jackson Center boys engaged in a competitive, snowball fight on the basketball floor last Thursday at the Habitat of the Cat.
Flurries of points, plus ice cold shooting streaks, dominated the game as the Tigers late avalanche of points snowballed into a 26-6 run to close out the contest, resulting in a 61-46 triumph. Of the game’s final 10 field goals, the Tigers connected on eight.
The Rockets were frozen at 40 forever, it seemed, after exploding from 11 points down to grab a short-lived lead, 40-35. In fact, they went over nine minutes without a hoop spanning the third and fourth periods.
Jackson Center, 4-2 in the Shelby County Athletic League and 6-3 overall, remained within striking distance of league leader Botkins and only two games back of the 5-0 Trojans in the lost column. Anna fell to 3-3 in the SCAL and 5-5 overall.
The Tigers and Trojans will square off in the SCAL on Friday at the Jackson Center gym. Air time is 7 p.m. on ScoresBroadcast.com and WMVR, 105.5 TAM FM.
Coach Scott Elchert’s club cruised to a 26-15 advantage over Anna during the second quarter. Senior Carson Regular poured in a dozen first half points. Sophomore Lucas Hartle added seven more.
Then, the winds of momentum turned and blew the other direction for a while. And Nate Barhorst’s Anna squad chipped away to get within 29-24 at the break. Seniors McKane Finkenbine and Zach Ambos racked up all of Anna’s first half points but two.
The winds howled even stronger in the Rockets’ direction for the first six minutes of the third quarter. In fact, Ambos, Finkenbine and Bryce Cobb all rattled home three-balls to lift Anna to a five-point cushion with 90 seconds left before the end of the third.
But the unpredictable ebb and flow of the region’s high school hoops once again gained control. Anna’s good fortune was reversed by a full fourth period of exceptional play from the Tigers, as they took the Rockets by storm.
A bucket and free throw by junior Kellen Reichert off the bench started the Jackson Center comeback at the end of the third stanza. Regula then pilfered a short Rocket pass and zipped the other direction for two more.
Entering the fourth, the Tigers and Rockets were dead even at 40. But Jackson Center was playing with a renewed high level of confidence.
Midway through this period, Regula nailed a jumper from the foul line extended, and then a minute later he skated 60 feet to the cup after keying a three-on-one bust out. Junior Nolan Fark banked in a close-in shot to put the game on ice as Jackson Center’s bulge swelled to double digits.
The defense of Camdyn Reese on Finkenbine was partly responsible in limiting the sharpshooter to one-made basket in the second half.
With under a minute left in the game, Cobb’s drive to the rim broke Anna’s long drought from the field. The visitors ran out of time trying to shovel themselves out of the deep hole.
On the evening, junior Jace Mullenhour popped in seven of eight free throws for Jackson Center and garnered 13 points. Regula paced the team with 23. Fark made nine.
Finkenbine tallied 23 and Ambos scored 16 for Anna. The rest of the team experienced a chilly shooting night.
Anna and Jackson Center meet again to close the regular season on February 11. “Real” cold and snow could be in the air by then.