The Mineola Yellowjackets labored through a sub-par first quarter in their regional quarterfinal loss to the James Madison Trojans Feb. 26 at Forney High School gymnasium. Although the Jackets battled back and were within striking distance at the mid-point of the fourth quarter, a seven-point Madison run ended Mineola’s season.
Mineola suffered seven turnovers in the opening stanza. The miscues ran the whole gamut: a step out of bounds on the baseline, a steal, a backcourt violation, an intercepted pass, an uncontested rebound lost out of bounds, another steal, a force out of bounds. The early errors were out of character for the Yellowjackets. An active Trojan backcourt was largely responsible for Mineola’s error-prone start.
Senior Shaw Franklin, who played an exceptional game, got the Jackets on the board with a score off an inbound play. An offensive rebound put-back by Trevion Sneed, and a long pass ahead from Franklin to Davion Sneed highlighted the Mineola offense early.
Dual technical fouls after a struggle over a loose ball indicated a level of frustration among the Yellowjackets. Madison drove the ball inside and scored on drives or with assists throughout the first quarter. Madison scored on only one 3-point shot in the first half. At the end of one, the score stood Madison 19-11.
The game tightened significantly in the second quarter. Stretches of solid fundamental basketball gave Mineola life. Franklin had a particularly good stretch with a beautiful move in the lane for a score and a nice scoring drive.
Following two Jonah Fischer free throws to make it a five-point game, Kadavian George stole the ball in the press and broke away for an uncontested dunk. It was a three-point game with 1:46 to play in the half. The teams traded scores for the remainder of the half, and Madison led at half 31-27.
The Yellowjackets were buoyed by outscoring the Trojans 16-12 in the second quarter. Coming out of the locker room, Mineola made a strong push to open the second half. In the first two minutes of play, the Jackets forced two turnovers, crashed the boards for three offensive rebounds, and blocked two Madison shots. All that activity however produced only a pair of Franklin free throws.
If they were going to win it appeared that the third quarter was the key. Mineola held Madison to only eight points in the quarter. The Yellowjackets pulled down 14 rebounds but could generate only 10 points. At three occasions in the quarter the Yellowjackets were within one score of the lead. The quality of the Mineola scores was excellent, especially a tip-in from Franklin, but the Yellowjackets could not close. At the quarter break the score was 39-37 Madison.
With 6:11 to play, it remained a four-point game. In the next 90 seconds, Madison hit a mid-range jumper, scored on a steal and breakaway, and hit a 3-pointer. They went up 50-39. That short burst of scoring sealed Mineola’s fate. The Dallas squad hit seven of eight free throws down the stretch.
With 45 seconds to play, Mineola Coach Ryan Steadman sent sophomore Aidan Steward, junior DaVante Stephens, junior Caleb Griffen, and junior Colt Marlow into the game. With them on the floor was senior Shaw Franklin, fighting until the final buzzer.
No doubt the Yellowjackets were dismayed by the game, especially after their best performance of the year in the area win against Leonard High School, but the 2018-19 season was memorable for the quality of their play over a lengthy basketball season. It was a spectacular achievement.