E.A. Sports Today

Playing like a 1

Between the dunks and 3-pointers, top-seeded Jacksonville puts on a show in its County Tournament debut

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – Jacksonville came into the Calhoun County Tournament as the No. 1 seed and they played like it Tuesday night.

Everyone expects Jacksonville to win the tournament. They expected it last year, too, when the Golden Eagles again were the top seed, but they fell to Oxford in the championship game.

The Golden Eagles made a statement they weren’t going to let that happen this year and opened this year’s tournament in a big way, pummeling eighth-seeded Saks 86-39.

It was a highlight-reel type performance between the 11 3-pointers and double-digit dunks.

“Our goal for this tournament and this week is to play to a standard,” Jacksonville coach Tres Buzan said. “We don’t care who we’re playing, we’re just trying to play at a high level and play to our standard. It was good to see tonight to start it out and get a quality win.

“We’ve got to get back to work because we’ve got several things we need to clean up, but proud of the guys for the job they did tonight and hopefully we can do the same Thursday.”

The win sent the Golden Eagles into Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. semifinal against the winner of Wednesday’s Piedmont-Anniston game.

Jacksonville’s Cam Johnson (2), shown here driving past Saks’ Christian Hall late in the game, got off to a hot start with three straight 3s in the first quarter to help the Golden Eagles take control. On the cover, Caden Johnson throws down one of the Golden Eagles’ numerous dunks. (Photos by Greg Warren)

John Broom got the party started with a high-flying follow of Devin Barksdale’s missed 3 for the first points of the game, then Cam Johnson buried three straight 3s from various locations across the top of the arc. Johnson capped the opening flurry by finishing off a 2-on-1 break with a thunderous dunk.

The Golden Eagles led 22-11 after the first quarter and 42-23 at the half. They turned it into a full-fledged rout with a 24-6 third quarter.

“I thought offensively we executed well,” Buzan said. “Defensively we had a poor first half, we really didn’t do a good job of containing the ball and rotations, but we really cleaned that up in the second half and I was proud to see that. We’re trying to hang our hat on our defensive ability and we’ve got to keep getting better.”

Broom led all scorers and four Jacksonville players in double figures with 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting and four 3-pointers. Johnson poured in 22 points, going 8-for-12 from the field and 6-for-10 from 3-point range. He had four 3s in the first quarter.

“I was feeling it a lot,” Johnson said. “When I had shot one I was like I’m getting the rhythm of it. I felt hot, really hot. Today was the hottest game I shot in the whole season.”

The lopsided margin gave Buzan a chance to clear his bench with 6:20 to play in the game. All 11 Golden Eagles played and nine of them played 11 minutes or more.

“It was a great effort by our first five tonight, but I’m most proud we played 11 deep and we didn’t drop off and the defensive intensity stayed up,” Buzan said. “We know who our frontrunners are, but it meant a lot to me see us play 11 deep. We really work these guys and they all put the time in — just like the frontrunners do — so it was good to see them go out and be productive.”

“We played together as a team and we ended up getting a big win,” Broom said. “We play hard all the time and we try to make every game a statement game.”

SAKS – Dee Elston 4-8 4-5 12, Jakari Streeter 4-9 1-2 10, Christian Smith 3-4 0-2 6, Christian Hall 2-4 0-0 6, Keondre Johnson 2-2 0-2 4, Anthony Bothwell 0-3 1-2 1, Tae Elston 0-1 0-0 0, Dyric Foster 0-1 0-0 0, Joshua Todd 0-0 0-0 0, Jayveonne Weeks 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 15-33 6-13 39.
JACKSONVILLE – John Broom 10-15 4-7 25, Cam Johnson 8-12 6-10 22, Caden Johnson 8-15 1-2 17, Devin Barksdale 4-8 0-0 12, Ethan Duke 1-2 0-0 2, Imoree Young 0-2 2-2 2, Jaleik Long 1-2 0-0 2, Jaquan Ervin 1-3 0-0 2, Damonte Sinclair 1-1 0-2 2, Kydric Fisher 0-3 0-0 0, Dee Prothro 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 34-63 7-13 86.

Saks1112610 –39
Jacksonville22212419 – 86

3-point goals: Saks 3-6 (D. Elston 0-1, Streeter 1-1, Hall 2-2, T. Elston 0-1, Weeks 0-1); Jacksonville 11-28 (Broom 1-5, Cm. Johnson 6-10, Cd. Johnson 0-1, Barksdale 4-7, Ervin 0-2, Fisher 0-3). Rebounds: Saks 22 (Streeter 5); Jacksonville 33 (Cd. Johnson 10). Total fouls: Saks 10, Jacksonville 10

Jacksonville’s John Broom (5) takes a defensive posture to guard an inbounds pass, but on the other end of the floor he led all scorers with 25 points. (Photo by Greg Warren)

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