E.A. Sports Today

Thunder strikes

JCA takes down Ragland on the road to earn its first trip to the boys Northeast Regional in school history
By East Alabama Sports Today
Chase Vinson and his Jacksonville Christian teammates picked the perfect time to play their best games of the year.
Vinson scored 30 points and grabbed 17 rebounds and the Thunder dumped Ragland 73-62 to earn their first trip as a boys program to the Northeast Regional.
“We played the best game we played all year tonight; great effort,” JCA coach Tommy Miller said. “I just think it’s great for that group of kids; that group of seniors have been together (a long time). We’ve had a good year, a good record, but we’ve had a couple bad breaks, disappointments. To win this one tonight really helps some of those things.
“We’ve made it to this game before but we didn’t win it. We’ve been on the road at TCC. We’ve been on the road at Holy Family. We’ve been on the road at Winterboro. We’ve made it but we couldn’t get over the hump. We’ve always been on the road. To win this on the road like that was really, really big.””
Vinson helped the Thunder to a 20-6 lead in the first quarter and then they had to withstand a late flurry by the Purple Devils to score their biggest win in the school’s limited AHSAA history. Ragland cut it to five with about four minutes left, but JCA held on, making free throws down the stretch. Vinson scored 14 in the fourth quarter.
“Chase played what I thought was his best game, his best effort,” Miller said. 
Brady Shaddix had 13 points and Kobe Messer had 12, including 4-for-4 from the line in the fourth quarter, for the Thunder. Nash Messer had eight points and four assists and reserves Jonathan Carter and Tanner Wilson gave them good minutes off the bench.
Ragland’s Sloan Phillips led all scorers with 33 points, but Eli Fair played tight man defense on him to the point many of his shots late in the game were hitting the front of the rim. Phillips had 17 points in the second half, but 10 came from the free throw line.
“It was very much a team effort,” Miller said. “They played with a lot of unity tonight. You’ve got to, to win those games.”
The Thunder (22-6) now moves to the regional at JSU for the first time, the team with the shortest drive to the venue, but isn’t looking any farther than the next game. They make their regional debut against Lindsay Lane and its fabulous scorer and Lipscomb signee Tommy Murr.
“We didn’t even think about anything but tonight,” Miller said, “because we knew we we’re done if we don’t win tonight. We are taking them one game at a time, that’s for sure.”
Jacksonville Christian 73, Ragland 62
JCA (22-6) –
Tanner Wilson 0 1-4 1, Brady Shaddix 4 3-4 13, Chase Vinson 10 10-15 30, Eli Fair 2 1-2 7, Nash Messer 3 1-5 8, Kobe Messer 3 5-5 12, Jonathan Caarterr 1 0-0 2. Totals 23 21-35 73.
RAGLAND – C.J. Lawler 5 0-0 13, Matt Lawler 0 0-0 0, Nathaniel Kelley 3 0-2 6, Josh Phillips 2 0-2 4, Sloan Phillips 10 12-15 33, Brody Bice 1 0-0 3, Elijah Ball 1 0-0 3. Totals 22 12-19 62.
JCA                 20  17  13 23  –  73
Ragland         6    21  18 17  –  62
3-point goals: JCA 6 (Shaddix 2, Fair 2, N. Messer, K. Messer); Ragland 6 (C.J. Lawler 3, Phillips, Bice, Ball). Fouled out: Fair, Lawler, Bice. Total fouls: JCA 14, Ragland 23. Officials: Williams, Green, Hodge.

Cover photo: Chase Vinson (4), shown during the Calhoun County Tournament, played what JCA coach Tommy Miller called his best game of the year Tuesday night. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

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