The players on this season’s Jacksonville Christian boys’ basketball team can say they accomplished something no other JCA boys team ever did. Saturday at Pete Mathews Coliseum, the boys won a game in the annual Calhoun County basketball tournament. The Thunder began playing in the county tournament in 2003. Their 66-58 victory over Jacksonville erased 14 years of frustration.
Jacksonville Christian trailed 29-28 at halftime then carried a slender 39-37 lead into the fourth quarter. With 5:30 to play, JCA led by six points. Ten seconds later, Chase Cobb hit a 3-point basket for the Thunder. With five minutes to go, Walker Messer scored on a drive, was fouled and converted the old-fashioned three-point play to earn JCA a double-digit lead at 51-39.
Over the next 90 seconds Jacksonville went on an 11-0 run. Reed Murphy stopped the bleeding for JCA with two inside baskets and a free throw to make it 56-50. In the final two minutes, Jacksonville Christian got one more basket from Murphy on a baseline drive and Tommy Miller’s players were 8-for-8 from the foul line. Messer was 4-for-4 while Murphy and Jayden Mitchell each went 2-for-2.
Murphy led in scoring with 27 points, nine in the fourth quarter. Kobe Messer nailed four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points. Walker Messer also scored nine points in the fourth quarter and ended the game with 13. Mitchell had nine points for the game and Cobb three.
JCA held its own against Jacksonville on the boards thanks in large part to Mitchell, who had 16 rebounds, and Murphy, who claimed 12 boards. Murphy also had four steals. Cobb and Walker Messer each added two assists.
Jacksonville Christian didn’t fare as well Monday in their second-round tournament game against No. 5 seed White Plains, falling 75-52. The Wildcats hit a 3-point basket just before the first-quarter buzzer sounded for a 21-11 advantage. After making six 3-point shots against Jacksonville, Thunder shooters connected just once from outside the arc against White Plains. Mitchell hit that triple in the first quarter.
Murphy’s double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds was a highlight for JCA. Walker Messer scored 16 points. Mitchell finished with five points, six rebounds and two assists. McCormack was 4-for-5 at the charity stripe for four points. Kobe Messer scored four points, all in the first quarter. Cobb and Nash Messer each tallied two points and Cobb made two steals.
The Thunder lost two close area games last week, falling to Donoho 73-66 at home on Thursday and to Faith Christian 63-56 on Jan. 10.
Against Donoho, Murphy led in scoring with 21 points. Walker Messer recorded 16 points. Kobe Messer scored nine points, Justin Tignor five, Elijah McCormack five, Nash Messer four, Mitchell three and Eli Fair three.
Jacksonville Christian led Faith Christian 45-41 after three quarters but the Lions won the game with a 22-11 margin in the fourth quarter. Murphy’s 20 points were best for the Thunder. Walker Messer and Kobe Messer each scored 10 points. Nash Messer added five points, Fair four, Tignor four and McCormack three.
JCA returns to action at Area 10 opponent Spring Garden on Jan. 24.