(Photo by Ryan Kerwin, JTV Sports)
By Mike Moore
Jackson — Two straight losses, three straight wins and a break to calm things down.
That was how 2016 ended for the Jackson boys basketball team.
On Friday night, 2017 begins with a bang, and a team headed to town who hasn’t lost to the Vikings in more than two seasons.
“They have great size and they pass the ball well, especially inside,” Jackson coach Dan Crowley said of Grand Ledge, which travels to Jackson for a 6 p.m. tip Friday night. “We’re going to have to help with the big guys. We’re going to be overmatched in terms of size, we know that. I think they are capable of shooting, but they’ve lost some of their key guys from last year. But that is a good team that’s well coached. We have to be ready to go.”
Jackson started the winter season with a pair of losses, but then ended the calendar year with three wins — the last two not even close.
“Sexton was a good win,” Crowley said. “I think the other two games were games we should have won. Now we get into a tough stretch where we have to be at our best.”
And the guys in orange and black get to do so at home, playing on their own hardwood for the first time since the season opener.
“Guys are looking forward to being at home,” Crowley said with a laugh. “It’s been a while. We’re hoping for a great crowd and a good atmosphere, especially with the 6 p.m. start time.”
After going 16-7 a year ago, Grand Ledge graduated seven seniors, including its top three scorers
of Malek Adams (19.8 points per game), Josh Hereford (11.3) and Jordan Goebel (11.3).
The Comets started the season with three losses, but rebounded with a pair of wins, including a 57-44 victory over St. John’s Tuesday night.
Still, the offense is averaging just over 54 points per game.
The Comets do come to Jackson with a four-game winning streak in the series, though, picking up 47-46 and 62-53 victories last year.
“Size hurt us last year,” Crowley said. “It’s something we have to be ready for again.
Look for Jackson’s Montez White to get the call to bang down low with some of Grand Ledge’s bigger bodies.
“He plays a lot bigger than he is,” Crowley said.
The Vikings should also have an advantage on the offensive end the way some of their guys are pouring it in right now.
Shonte Suddeth is leading the way with 17.8 points per game, while Rarshiem Owens (12.8) and Marquise Robinson (12.2) are averaging double figures as well.
As a team, the Vikings are scoring nearly 70 per contest, despite shooting just a clip over 40 percent from the field.
“I think the scoring numbers are helped a bit by who we played the last few games,” Crowley said. “At the same time, we’re playing at a tempo we like to play at.”
That will be key Friday as well, especially against a Grand Ledge team that will try to push and run with the ball as well.
“Which is going to force us to take care of it,” Crowley added.
He meant limiting turnovers, as well as being better with shot selection.
Jackson is averaging roughly 27 3-point attempts per game.
“That’s just too many,” Crowley added. “We’re a team that dribble penetrates, and we have to do that more. If we have a bad night shooting from the outside, it could really hurt us.”
Friday night’s game will air on JTV this weekend Saturday at 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Girls got next
Roughly 20 minutes after the conclusion of the boys game, the Jackson girls will also take on Grand Ledge.
The Vikings are off to a flying start with a 5-1 record.
Grand Ledge comes in at 3-3.
Mike Moore is a play-by-play commentator and Sports Writer for JTV Sports.
He’s also a Real Estate agent with Real Estate One, specializing with buyers and sellers throughout Michigan, from the Jackson area to metro Detroit. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (313) 770-6365 with any inquiries.