Jackets handle Alba-Golden

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Yellowjacket  freshman T.J. Moreland came out with a hot hand to stoke Mineola’s 66-39 win over neighboring Alba-Golden last Tuesday.  Moreland, who finished with 19 points, hit four 3-point shots in the first quarter to give the Yellowjackets an early cushion against the Panthers.

The tempo and physicality of the game was established in the opening sequence. The Panthers won the tip and their senior playmaker Jon-Michael Chadwick found room down the lane. 

Mineola’s Dawson Pendergrass rose up and emphatically rejected his lay-up attempt.   

The end-to-end play and physical contact continued for the first three possessions as the referees had swallowed their whistles. Luckily, foul boundaries were re-established or the game could have gotten ill-tempered.

Mineola opened a 13-point lead at the quarter break. The Yellowjacket press and breaks off of defensive rebounds provided ample scoring opportunities. 

Alba-Golden made a strong run in the second quarter behind scoring drives by Chadwick, a breakaway by Boedy Baker and a jumper from Hayden Weissert, but they could not close within nine points. At the half Mineola had extended the lead to 41-25.

Yellowjacket Jonah Fischer took charge in the late second quarter and early in the third to rack up most of his 16 points, while Kelby Bruner had by far his best night of the season with 18 points. 

Coach Ryan Steadman rotated all nine players into the game, and the fresh legs kept the Jackets scoring without pause. Andrew Stinchfield contributed a beautiful 3-point score early in the game. As always Kaleb Griffin contributed with strong play under the basket. 

For Alba-Golden, Chadwick’s efforts to reach the basket were a joy to watch as he often found seams in the Mineola defense which were not really there. He finished with 17 points. When the Panthers could get the ball inside, they were able to capitalize on the strong play around the basket.

Every game has moments of basketball beauty. Last Tuesday, it was Pendergrass who provided them. The first came on the initial possession of the second quarter, when he skied to pull down back-to-back offensive rebounds. 

The second occurred on the opening possession of the final quarter. Fischer took an inbound pass at the top of the key on a set play. He arched a perfect pass to Pendergrass above the rim for a highlight reel alley-oop.

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