JACKSON County didn’t win its season-opener but has its full complement of players back now as looks to find its form in the early season.
Mo Wade paced Jackson County with 16 points in his varsity debut last Tuesday and Kevin Lineburger added 14 in a 77-66 loss to visiting Mt. Paran Christian Academy.
“We knew that this was going to be a tough first game,” Jackson County coach Britt Beaver said. “But we wanted to go ahead and start with a team that high-caliber. Very-well disciplined, very well-coached. They do a great job of shooting it — as good as anybody we’ll see this year. No question. I was proud of the kids because they didn’t quit and played really hard.”
Jackson County will take on Eagles’ Landing Christian on the road this Friday and goes into this contest with more practice time under its belt.
The Panthers (0-1) had just one practice with its full roster — 12 of the squad’s 24 players had been playing football — before taking on Mt. Paran. Still, Beaver was able to put several players and lineups on the floor in the opener.
In addition to Wade and Lineburger, Jacob Lewis reached double figures with 12 points as 10 different Panthers got into the scorebook.
Blake Jones poured in 30 points for the hot-shooting Eagles, who went 24-6 last year in Class A and return a host of seniors this year.
The Eagles led for all but the first few minutes of the contest, building a double-digit lead by halftime and leading by as much as 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Jackson County found a spark late, using a 7-0 run to trim Mt. Paran’s lead to 68-58 with 1:21 left.
“I thought in the second half we got a little bit more in the flow of our offense,” Beaver said. “You kind of saw that. We made a couple of little adjustments, and I felt good about those.”
Mt. Paran, however, hit 9-of-12 free throws down the stretch to keep the Panthers from cutting the lead into single digits.
Jackson County did commit its share of turnovers, but Beaver said that was to be expected with so many players just getting back into basketball mode.
“We’re still trying to get guys in the right spots,” Beaver said. “But they battled back. We were really proud of what they did.”
The Panthers get into the full swing of things over the next few days with the Friday game with Eagles Landing, a Saturday road trip to Winder-Barrow and a Tuesday road matchup with Riverside Military Academy.
“I’m excited about once we get these guys in the gym and we get some time with them and work out all those kinks, what they’ll do,” Beaver said.