After making the UIL playoffs as one of the most talented fourth place district teams, the Mineola Yellowjackets suffered a disappointing 47-59 first-round loss to the James Madison Trojans last Tuesday.
Mineola, who had their fair share of struggles offensively at times this season, had another tough shooting night against the Trojans as the team shot just 2-16 from the three-point line and shot 36 percent in the paint (20 for 55) even though the Jackets had a size advantage over the Trojans.
The game started like a track meet for the Trojans as they raced out to a 9-0 lead before Mineola Head Coach Ryan Steadman was forced to call a timeout just three minutes in to the game.
Mineola then responded with a 6-0 run as Shaw Franklin scored four points and Devion Sneed scored two.
Then the Trojans went back to work as they reeled off a 5-0 run of their own before Mineola’s Jonah Fischer hit his first three of the game cutting the lead to 11-16. In the final moments of the first quarter Trevion Sneed scored on a put back just as the buzzers sounded. James Madison held a 13-16 lead at the end of the first frame. The Trojans were led by DaiJarron Smith-Rhodes as he scored six points in the quarter to lead all scorers.
The Trojans who came in to their match up with the Jackets held an undefeated district record going 9-0 as they used their overall team speed and great guard play to drive and create offense in transition.
In their game with Mineola the Trojans constantly put pressure on Mineola’s bigger defenders forcing them to guard on the perimeter mostly due to their use of a four-guard offense.
After two free throws by James Madison, Franklin got the scoring going for Mineola as the lead was cut back to three. Then the Trojans’ Quintarius Johnson who had an excellent game overall got in to an offensive rhythm in the second quarter as he scored on a mid-range jumper. Devion Sneed then hit a short jumpshot.
Johnson then took over the final minutes of the first half as he got a steal and layup to go, and then scored on another layup to end the second quarter. At the half James Madison held a 20-24 lead.
In the opening moments of the third quarter Johnson scored on a long two-pointer and then James Madison’s Jody Legans scored as the Trojans maintained a seven-point lead.
Mineola’s struggles really began in the third as they missed countless shots at the basket causing them to fall behind early in the frame.
Mineola finally got an inside basket to fall as Sean Dennis connected on a hook shot, the Franklin scored again on a bank shot that cut the Trojans’ lead to just two with three minutes left in the quarter. After another layup Dennis cut the Trojans lead back to two at 28-30. The last few minutes of the third belonged to the Trojans who were led by their two freshman guards.
Freshman Christian Henry hit a three, Travion Jackson scored, and freshman Jerome Rodgers scored also as the Trojans went on a 7-0 run. The quarter ended as James Madison took a 30-39 in to the final eight minutes.
Johnson got the scoring started as he gave James Madison their first double-digit lead of the game, before Henry hit another three. After a timeout by Mineola the Trojans continued their run as Johnson scored again and Smith-Rhodes scored again giving James Madison a 30-48 lead.
In the final minutes both Sneed brothers scored, Connor Dobbs scored and Jonah Fischer hit his second three of the night but the effort wouldn’t be enough as the Trojans held on for a double-digit victory.
Shaw Franklin led Mineola with a team-high 12 points followed by Trevion Sneed with nine, Cameron Sorenson with seven and Devion Sneed scored seven.
When asked why he thought his team couldn’t pull out the victory Steadman said, “I thought we did a great job of playing half court defense and rebounding. We had 17 offensive rebounds but didn’t capitalize on them enough.”
Steadman also gave his final thoughts on what to some people may have been a disappointing end to the season.
“Overall for the season we under achieved. We had the making for a really good team but ‘team’ wasn’t what we played for (all the time) and in the end it hurt us. I hope this group learns this important lesson before next year because we have the talent to be very good,” Steadman said.
The team will lose Cameron Sorenson and Sean Dennis to graduation as both players were regular starters this season and will be missed by Steadman and the program.
“I will miss my seniors, their hard work and dedication will be missed,” Steadman said last week.