Jonesboro made six free throws down the stretch to stifle Spalding’s big rally and defeat the Jags 70-68 in Region 4-AAAA Division B action at Spalding High. With the win, Jonesboro improves to 11-4 overall and 6-1 in region play while Spalding drops its second straight game to fall to 6-6, 3-3. Jonesboro moves into a first-place tie with North Clayton while Spalding holds the fifth spot in the six-team subregion standings.
The Jags hung tough with the state-ranked Cardinals in the first half, even tying the game at 19-all on a knockdown 3-pointer from Spalding forward Markee Dickerson with 4:00 left before halftime. But Jonesboro went on a 7-0 run to take a 26-19 lead and cruise to a 33-23 lead at the half.
Jonesboro stayed hot in the third quarter, eventually building its biggest lead of the game at 45-28 on a trey from Michael Robinson. Spalding didn’t quit, getting a 3-point play from Terence Brittian in the waning seconds of the third to cut the Cardinals deficit to 49-39 heading into the final stanza.
The fourth quarter was an exciting eight minutes of basketball. Consecutive treys by Treyvon Payne and Brittian cut Jonesboro’s lead to 52-45 with 5:34 remaining. But Jonesboro went on another 7-0 run to take a 14-point lead, 59-45, with 3:19 remaining and it seemed like the Jags were going to get run out of their home gym.
That’s when the Spalding rally began. The Jags applied pressure to the Cards and went on a 10-0 run themselves: Brittian converted another 3-point play, Xeryous Dewberry scored 5 straight points and Payne stole a Jonesboro inbounds pass for a layup to cut the deficit to 59-55 with 1:50 left in regulation, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
Jonesboro’s Elijah Wade stopped the bleeding with a layup to make the score 61-55 with 1:30 left. Dickerson then missed a quick trey and Payne got the rebound but missed the layup and Wade scored again to make the lead 63-55. Dickerson scored four quick baskets to cut the lead to 63-59 and Jags head coach Kemo Spear called his final timeout with 53 seconds remaining.
DeAntre Mack then made one of two free throws for Jonesboro to push the lead to 64-59 and after Spalding missed two shots, Jonesboro’s Robinson sank two more free throws to push the lead to 66-59 with 32 seconds left. Spalding’s Phillip Goodrum sank a trey to close the gap to 66-62 with 25 seconds left and then Wade sank two free throws for the 68-62 Cards lead.
Spalding’s Alex Bonner was then fouled and he hit the first free throw but missed the second. The Jags got the rebound and the ball found its way back to Goodrum, who calmly swished another trey to cut the Cardinals lead to 68-66 with 15 seconds left. Mack was then fouled and he coolly hit both free throws with 12 seconds left for the 70-66 Jonesboro lead. Bonner made a layup at the buzzer for the final 70-68 margin.
The Jags travel to face crosstown and region rival Griffin High Friday night in Division B action at 7:30 p.m.