Having sprained both ankles over the Christmas holiday, Madison Central’s Xavian Stapleton wanted to see how far he had come.
So with the Jaguars putting the finishing touches on a 65-45 romp over Division 4-6A foe Jim Hill Tuesday night, Stapleton tested himself, slashing past one Tiger defender and cutting to the basket for a thunderous one-handed slam that brought the home crowd to its feet.
“I just wanted to test it out,” said Stapleton, who finished with 11 points. “I think I got it back.”
The Jaguars are back, too. Back in The Clarion-Ledger Super 10 rankings (they’re No. 10 this week) and back in contention for the Division 4-6A crown.
Keon Spencer led MC (16-4) with 12 points and junior center Janiah White had 11 points to go along with 8 rebounds and 7 blocks as the Jaguars improved to 3-0 in division play. Jim Hill (12-8) fell to 0-2 in division play.
“They rebound the ball extremely well, they’re extremely long and they have guys that will hit shots if you leave them open,” Tigers coach Stanford Speech said. “They have a really good team. Our guys just didn’t match their intensity in the second half.”
Trailing 33-27 at the half, Jim Hill trimmed the Jags’ lead to one with 5:25 left in the third, as Anfernee Hampton hit a 3-pointer and then scored in transition on back-to-back possessions to make it a 35-34 game. Hampton finished with a team-high 12 points.
But as it did all night, Madison Central answered Jim Hill’s run with one of its own, closing the period on a 12-2 spurt to essentially put the Tigers away.
“We’ve got a team that just don’t lay down,” Spencer said. “When they came back, we came back stronger.
“(After the 12-2 run) they pretty much laid down after that one.”
White, who entered the game averaging a triple-double, was quiet for most of the night. He scored seven of his 11 points in the fourth quarter. With Jim Hill making him the focus of its defensive game plan, Madison Central turned to the perimeter where its shooters knocked down six 3-pointers.
“I’ve got an unselfish team,” Madison Central coach Rahim Lockhart said.