E.A. Sports Today

Horton, J’ville fall hard

Golden Eagles scoring machine expected to miss at least three games after falling hard in first half

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — If anyone wanted to know what kind of team Jacksonville would be without Cam Horton all they had to do was watch the second half of its TV24 Holiday Showcase game with Geraldine Saturday.

Horton, the Golden Eagles’ sensational scoring machine, hit his head on the floor after a monstrous breakaway dunk late in the second quarter and left Pete Mathews Coliseum at halftime for evaluation.

Jacksonville eventually lost 76-63, but not before showing glimpses of what it could be without its star available.

Coach Ryan Chambless believed at the time his star eventually would be fine, but it later was learned Horton will be sidelined and monitored for the next seven days. He will miss a minimum of three games — including an important area game with Saks — and possibly a fourth when the Golden Eagles open the Riley Whitaker Christmas Classic at Gadsden State Saturday.

Chambless received a technical foul after the play for a few choice words regarding the inconsistency of contact that led to his player’s takeout.

“I do think it’s ridiculous a hand-check 50 feet away is such an emphasis, yet you can take a guy out of the air when he’s defenseless,” he said later. “I don’t understand that … when football does all it can to protect a defenseless quarterback.”

Television replays show Geraldine’s Bret Armstrong running alongside Horton and peeling off down by the basket and Austin Willbouhby trailing, but there was no discernible contact and Horton simply fell backwards on his release from the rim.

Normally, a team might have collapsed after losing such an integral player, but several of the Golden Eagles — most notably Taye Ackles and Rivan Hill — stepped up their games.

Hill scored nine of his 10 points in the third quarter on three 3-pointers. Ackles scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half. The Golden Eagles scored 40 points in the half.

“When Cam went down we wanted to pick it up for our teammate and pick up his end of the scoring,” Hill said. “It’s kind of hard playing under a superstar like Cam. He’s expected to take the majority of the shots, but it kinds of opens up more scoring opportunities for everyone else when Cam’s not getting his 30.”

The Golden Eagles were down 16 when Horton left the building, but with the remaining players rallying to pick up the slack they cut the deficit to six with 4:10 to play – on a 3-pointer by Ackles — before fouling and finally running out of gas.

Ackles was 7-of-16 from the floor in the second half, assuming the shooters role normally reserved for Horton, who went for 33 the night before in a loss at White Plains.

“I was kind of worried because this is our first game without Cam,” Ackles said. “Usually when he falls he’s strong enough to get back up, but after he busted his head and got the stitches he had to leave and we had to take over.

“It showed we can handle the ball and play defense, too; that we can still play as a team without Cam – and with him.”

Geraldine opened its big lead on the strength of the deep ball. The Bulldogs hit seven 3-pointers in the first half. Jacksonville had 23 points at halftime.

Geraldine 76, Jacksonville 63

GERALDINE — Colby Lee Mincey 1-2 11-12 13, Austin Willbouhby 3-8 1-3 8, Avery Byars 1-1 2-2 4, Brady Gilbert 2-6 2-3 8, Bret Armstrong 1-2 2-2 5, Ivan Benitez 0-0 0-0 0, Justin Murphy 4-10 0-0 9, Jordan Sisk 0-0 0-0 0, Aaron Slaton 0-0 0-0 0, Cade White 7-16 5-7 23, Tate Richey 3-5 0-0 6. Totals 22-50 23-29 76.

JACKSONVILLE (1-4) — Aaron Bragg 0-1 0-0 0, Cam Horton 5-17 0-1 11, Rivan Hill 3-12 1-2 10, Martavious Long 1-3 2-5 4, Tahj Kirkland 0-3 0-0 0, Taye Ackles 9-27 5-5 25, Will Fuller 1-2 0-0 2, Collin Casey 0-1 0-0 0, Alex Gilbert 0-2 2-2 2, Casey Trull 4-10 0-1 8, K.J. Satcher 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 23-79 11-18 63.

Geraldine 16 23 14 23 — 76
Jacksonville 11 12 19 21 — 63

3-point goals: Geraldine 9-21 (Mincey 0-1, Willbouhby 1-2, Gilbert 2-5, Armstrong 1-2, Murphy 1-3, White 4-8); Jacksonville 6-30 (Horton 1-8, Hill 3-9, Kirkland 0-1, Ackles 2-10, Casey 0-1, Gilbert 0-1). Rebounds: Geraldine 45 (White 12), Jacksonville 53 (Trull 10). Technical fouls: Chambless. Fouled out: White, Hill. Total fouls: Geraldine 17, Jacksonville 22.

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