E.A. Sports Today

‘Kobe mentality’

Back from week-long bout with strep, energy-strapped Gannaway summons his best in fourth quarter to help JCA keep Donoho at bay

Cover photo: Jacksonville Christian’s tries to get a shot up as Donoho’s Richard Goad (4) and Blake Sewell defend Thursday at JCA. (Photo by Joe Medley)

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville Christian’s boys have seven varsity players, and seasonal illness took the Thunder down to five for a recent game.

Jesse Gannaway returned from his week-long bout with strep in JCA’s 61-57 victory over Donoho on Thursday and clearly wasn’t himself. He’s the guy who brings the ball up the court, not the guy who throws it to others to do that job.

JCA’s Jesse Gannaway defends a shot by Donoho’s Jayden Cameron on Thursday. (Photo by Joe Medley)

When the Thunder needed someone to keep Donoho at bay in the fourth quarter, Gannaway found enough energy to be the guy. He scored 10 of his 24 points in the fourth, including two 3-pointers, and JCA improved to 6-10 on the season.

“Jesse was really tired, really give-out,” JCA coach Tommy Miller said. “I knew he was wanting the ball out of his hands there several times in the fourth quarter, and he sucked it up there at the end.”

Gannaway went to the doctor after JCA played Coosa Christian on Dec. 27 and got his strep diagnosis. It took him out of action until Thursday.

He worked through the first three quarters while others carried the Thunder against Donoho. Noah Lee scored 15 of his 17 points in the first three quarters. The Thunder’s rebounding machine also grabbed 14 rebounds to go with six assists in what Miller called “maybe his best overall game this season.”

Bryson Dowdey hit a three in the fourth quarter, but 13 of his 17 points came in the first three quarters. He also had five rebounds and two steals.

There was a time when it looked like Gannaway might get an easy second half, but Donoho rallied from a 33-23 halftime deficit. Jayden Cameron, Ethan Crawford, Sam Johnson and Blake Sewell scored 12 points apiece, and the Falcons forced a back-and-forth game in the second half. 

“Offensively, everything stayed the same (in the second half),” Donoho coach Korielle Beavers said. “I just thought we played harder.

“They punched us in the mouth, and we just kept taking it, and then we started punching a little late.”

The game wound up in the hands of the guy who just wasn’t feeling so punchy, let alone hands-on, but he made the shots that came to him. He also fed Lee for Lee’s lone fourth-quarter basket, after Lee backed down a defender one-on-one on the low block.

Gannaway scored 10 of JCA’s 16 fourth-quarter points.

“I just had to get the Kobe (Bryant) mentality, I guess you could say,” Gannaway said. “I just had to take over a game and try to win it for the team and try to do whatever I can do.”

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