SSHS boys can’t find an answer for Jackson

By JOSEPH ELERSON, News-Telegram Sports Writer

Feb. 6, 2008 - PARIS - Playing their final district game against the Paris Wildcats for the next two years, the Sulphur Springs Wildcats could not find an answer against Paris post Courtney Jackson.

Jackson, who has signed to play basketball at Arkansas, Little-Rock, scored a game-high 29 points to go along with eight rebounds, three assists and two steals as Paris beat Sulphur Springs 88-50 on Tuesday.

Jackson was held in check during the first half with only five points and three fouls. Paris senior Keon Furtch added 21 points to go along with six rebounds, five steals and one assist.

"I knew that he (Jackson) was going to get his points and he is a player," said SSHS first-year coach Braughn Curtis. "That is what players do, and they are going to be able to adjust and move around and get open. We did not do a good job of playing on defense in the third quarter."

In the third quarter, Jackson scored 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting and 3-of-4 from the free-throw line to extend Paris' 44-25 halftime lead into a 72-35 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Curtis said defensively the Wildcats did not come out of the locker room ready to play, and that is something they need to work on in the final two games of the season.

"In the third quarter, we did not come out and play very well," the coach said. "Defensively, we let him (Jackson) catch the ball on the block and gain possession in the lane too many times, and anytime you do that against anybody you are going to have trouble. We need to do a better job of defending against that."

SSHS never led in the game, but tied the score at 10-10 on a jumper by junior Jonathan Lee with 4:10 remaining in the quarter. By the time the Wildcats scored their next bucket, Paris held a 22-10 lead as Anthony Mills broke the drought on a layup with 50 seconds remaining in the quarter.

Mills finished the game with a team-high 14 points to go along with three rebounds and two assists as the only double-figure scorer for Sulphur Springs.

In the second quarter, Paris (23-6, 8-0) extended its lead to 14 points, 30-16, on a dunk by Desmond Moore off an assist from Quin Rollerson before Sulphur Springs cut the deficit to 30-20 with 4:19 remaining in the half.

Following that stretch, SSHS (14-17, 0-8) was outscored 14-5 the remainder of the half as Mills drained two jumpers and Bryant "Day Day" Jackson nailed the back end of two free throws.

"It is that five minute stretch there where we are within 10 points and we make bad decisions with the basketball," Curtis said. "I don't know if it was seven-or-eight possessions in a row where we don't establish a good offensive presence. Early on in the game, we would get the ball inside and work and find a way to get a good shot."

SSHS shot 17-of-44 (38.6 percent) from the floor, compared to 36-of-79 (51.4 percent) for Paris. Paris shot 35-of-62 from inside the arc and dominated on the offensive glass (13-5) and had a 38-22 advantage in total rebounds.

Curtis said the eight players on the varsity roster are working hard.

"They are trying their hardest to play good basketball and I expect that from a player's perspective," the coach said. "They could have easily folded up and not even cared and gone home. They are trying to do what I am asking them to do, and they are making some improvements."

The Wildcats will travel for their final road game on Friday at Texas High. The freshmen will start the three-game set at 4:30 p.m., followed by the junior varsity at 6 p.m. and the varsity around 7:30 p.m.

"We can beat T-High and these two teams match up pretty well against each other," Curtis said. "We have to stop (Kerry) Manning for sure and we can't let him go off and shoot threes and keep shooting them. If they press us, we need to not turn it over and make good decisions. If we can do that, I think we can work our offense and get good shots."

In the junior varsity game, Sulphur Springs lost 64-42 behind 12 points from Patric Miller. In the freshmen game, Sulphur Springs was led by Kaylon Alexander with 10 points in a 53-25 loss.

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