It is long haul from Jonesboro to Vivian, the home of North Caddo High School but the trip ended up being “twice as nice” as it resulted in two district titles for Jonesboro-Hodge. The 62-55 and 69-61 victories continued the mastery of district 1-2A that JHHS has enjoyed since joining in 2019 as it marked the third consecutive championship for each.
These two were all the sweeter though as both squads were playing to claim a championship not only for them but for the ones who wore #2 and #5 last year, otherwise known as Lluda and J-5. Those were the nicknames of teammates, LaJavion Nichols and Javious Holden, who tragically lost their lives in an automobile accident this past summer. Just as the football team did earlier in the fall, the two basketball squads have dedicated their season to their friends as well always flashing their numbers in memory anytime a chance arises. (See banner above)
The road to the title was easier for the Lady Tigers. That is if you think that starting the season 2-10, having a change in coaches over the holidays and then ending the year with an 11-2 mark that includes a perfect 6-0 slate in district that extended their streak of perfection in district play to 16 straight over three years.
For the boys the road has been a little tougher as the Tigers have shared the regular season crown the last two years and won the third in a playoff. Still the way the season has played out could almost be expected as the script is eerily the same as it has been many times before in head coach Allen Tew’s tenure.
You could call it the “Tale of Tew.” It seems too always be the same. The Tigers tease the faithful by looking like no one can beat them for a stretch and then inexplicably lose a game putting their goals in jeopardy and giving them no margin for error. Maybe that is how the Tigers like it best as almost every time, JHHS responds, comes back to win the “big game” and claim their title or at least a share of it.
JHHS 69 North Caddo 61
You can always tell how focused a team is by two major “reads.” How well do the start a game and how well do they finish. In layman’s terms, that conveys to how a team shoots from the field in the beginning and how they shoot their free throws at the end. To the credit of the players and head coach Allen Tew, A gander of the game books of the important clash at North Caddo on Friday tells the story of a focused Tiger team.
JHHS broke out on top 15-9 with five players contributing baskets, including the backcourt of Ajay Tew and Justin Calahan who made two buckets each. With Devontae Mozee, Cameron Leonard, Tydre Malone and Javeon Andrews also getting into the act over the first three periods, JHHS held a 46-39 lead going into the final frame.
As expected, the Tigers were put on the line as North Caddo was forced to foul to try and play catchup. JHHS hit 7 of 9. Talk about getting it done! Andrews, Tew and Calahan each made two with Malone, who scored 9 of his 16 points in crunch time, adding one as well.
Talk about stepping up. The Tigers put together perhaps, if not the best, certainly one of the better “team” efforts of the year at a time when it had to be done. Calahan led JHHS in scoring with 21, followed by Malone’s 16 and 14 from Tew. Mozee and Cameron Leonard contributed six and Andrews chipped in with five.
It should come as no surprise to Tiger fans as they have seen this before. It seems, especially over the last several years that head coach Allen Tew has had the uncanny ability to get his team peaking at just the right time of the season. This season is no exception as JHHS is now 16-5 on the year after winning their season best 6th in a row. How do you describe it? Simply by calling the District Champions!
|JHHS (16-5, 5-1)||15||17||14||23||69|
|NCHS (12-14, 5-1)||9||17||13||21||61|
NCHS scoring: Miller 26, Martin 14, Rainey 8, Jackson 7, Armstrong 3, Collins 2, Hill 1
FINAL DISTRICT 1-2A BOYS STANDINGS
Lady Tigers 61 North Caddo 55
After reigning district 1-2A MVP, Xabrianna Jackson, who is expected to win the honor again this year, lit them up the game before, North Caddo knew they had to do something out of the ordinary in order to have a chance for victory.
What they did was employ a “box and one” defensive strategy against the Lady Tigers and it worked too, for a little while at least. Faced with the funky defense that has four players posted at the top and bottom corners of the lane and one face guarding a player, in this case, Jackson, the Lady Tigers went into halftime trailing by nine points at 32-23.
Head coach Kris Cash felt though that it wasn’t the defensive scheme that was causing his team problems but something else that could be fixed.
“I told them we were getting outworked and that they needed to forget about the defense they were playing, settle down and focus on playing hard,” said Cash.
The girls heeded the plea and doubled up on the Lady Titans by a 24-12 margin to take a three-point lead into the fourth that ballooned to six by games end. The catalyst to the second half onslaught was Jackson. After scoring just 10 points in the first half, all in the second quarter, the vivacious guard put the Lady Tigers on her shoulders and exploded for 24 second half points, giving her 34 on the night. This was achieved by a relentless effort to get to the goal which resulted in Jackson shooting 15 free throws of which she converted 10 to go along with her four, 3-pointers.
Keasiah Andrews played a big role in the comeback as well. The suddenly surging offensive weapon since district play began added 11 points on the night, all but two coming in the second half. She also took advantage of the charity shots afforded making five of seven down the stretch.
|JHHS (13-13, 6-0)||7||16||24||14||61|
|NCHS (10-13, 3-2)||12||20||12||11||55|
NCHS scoring: Edwards 16, Evans 14, Larry 11, Jackson 4, Hodge 4, Sims 3, Griffin 2
FINAL DISTRICT 1-2A GIRLS STANDINGS
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