Guards carry the day for Jackets

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Yellowjacket guards Jonah Fischer and T.J. Moreland combined for 39 points in Mineola’s 73-57 win Friday at Rains High School. The pair kept the Jackets scoring apace with accurate shooting, aggressive driving play and timely assists.

Facing the Rains Wildcats in Emory is no small task. The home side came out with a lot of energy and focus. The Yellowjackets had to match that energy in order to prevail.

Moreland registered the first points of the night with a 3-pointer from the baseline on Mineola’s first possession. It was a good sign. Mineola steadily built a lead throughout the first quarter. A strong offensive rebound and score by Caleb Griffin and a driving bucket by Fischer put the Jackets up 22-11 at the quarter break. 

Some great end-to-end play in the second quarter saw Rains stage a significant comeback and tie the score at 28 late in the half. Fischer, who took two hard charges on the defensive end, was dishing out assists in the forecourt. Kelby Bruner and Dawson Pendergrass cashed in on those assists. An offensive rebound put-back by Pendergrass gave Mineola a one point lead at the break.

The Yellowjackets won the game in the third quarter by outscoring the home side by 12 points. Fischer and Moreland alternated scores to open the half and rattled off a quick 10 points. Two beautiful assists, one by Moreland and one by Aiden Steward, continued the scoring. Pendergrass wrapped up the surge with a strong inside basket. A 13-point lead was not yet safe against the Wildcats. They came out quickly in the final quarter and scored seven unanswered points. The Jackets did not panic. As time ground on, Mineola took advantage of Wildcat mistakes and rebuilt a significant lead. 

If each game is completely unique, then Coach Steadman will likely file this one under the heading of perseverance. The Yellowjackets knew that they were in for a bit of a street fight and that they could not relax until the final buzzer. The squad persevered and emerged with an extremely hard-fought 16-point win. 

The Yellowjackets and Lady Jackets have a district bye on Friday, Jan. 10 and resume district action on Tuesday, Jan. 14 at Lone Oak.

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