Jackets secure top spot in district

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Mineola’s 61-27 win over the Grand Saline Indians Friday was yet another workmanlike performance.  It put Coach Ryan Steadman’s Yellowjackets one game away from an undefeated district run and clinched a district championship.

The tempo of the game in Grand Saline was all Jackets. Nine Yellowjackets scored on the night, led by versatile Kelby Bruner, who had 17 points.

With one minute to play in the opening quarter, Mineola held a 15-10 lead. A 3-pointer by T.J. Moreland and a Bruner jumper from the lane opened the lead to 10 points at the break. 

Mineola kept the pressure up in the second stanza, outscoring the Indians 16-9. Excellent hustle and keen court awareness rewarded Mineola with a 36-19 lead at half. 

Despite coming back out with a cold shooting hand, a Bruner score with an assist from Jonah Fischer got the Jackets untracked. Mineola was relentless and scored at a 3:1 ratio for the remainder of the night. 

Three passages of play in the Grand Saline game illustrate why the Yellowjackets have been so successful this year. 

In the first half, Dawson Pendergrass forced two turnovers merely through his hustle and physical positioning. He forced the opponents out of bounds twice and did so without fouling the ball handlers.

Late in the third quarter Mineola inbounded the ball under its own basket. The play, which normally works, was well-defended by Grand Saline. With the play scuttled and seconds ticking off, Bruner recognized the predicament and slipped quickly toward the basket. He finished with a short lay-in.

In the middle of a second-quarter rally, Jacket guard Fischer used only eye contact from the top of the key to communicate an alley-oop to Pendergrass. 

Hustle, awareness and teamwork, as demonstrated by these three snippets from the game are some reasons for the Yellowjackets’ success. The upcoming district finale against a strong Edgewood side (played Tuesday) had the makings of another Mineola-Edgewood classic.

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