CLINTON – Dakota Dailey wasn’t ready for the end of an era.
Neither was his father and coach Craig Dailey.
The two have been a part of multiple state championship teams at Marshall Academy but have never won an MAIS Overall Championship.
After defeating Jackson Academy 76-67 in double overtime on Tuesday, the Dailey’s are one step closer to achieving their goal.
“It’s more special than anything with it being my senior year and maybe my dad’s last year coaching in the MAIS,” Dakota Dailey said. “I just want it to continue.”
Advancing to the semifinal round wasn’t easy. The Patriots (33-5) saw an early lead disappear quickly in the first quarter. The Raiders (26-7) went on an 11-0 run midway through the second period, which forced Marshall Academy to play from behind for the majority of the contest.
Dailey, who had a game-high 37 points, would get his team back in the race by scoring a deep three or off-balance shot in the lane.
Jackson Academy’s athleticism would then take over and extend the Raiders’ lead even further.
That was the story for much of the game until Dailey exercised his strength from the free-throw line late in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots regained the lead on the possession after Dailey hit two free throws to tie the game at 51 a piece.
The Delta State signee was 15-of-17 from the line. That kind of accuracy is to be expected for a guard who spends most every day after practice shooting 100 free throws, something his father has never had to harp on.
“I really don’t treat him differently than any of my other players, he’s just really special,” Craig Dailey said of his son. “I’m the coach on the floor and in practice and I’m daddy at home.”
In the second half and two overtime periods, the Patriots scored 28 of their points inside the paint and shot 56.3 percent from the field.
Craig Dailey’s full-court transition drills conditioned the Patriots to get a stop late, and paid off when it forced Jackson Academy into foul trouble in the second period of overtime.
“This time of year there’s just so much fatigue involved with the kids,” Jackson Academy coach Bill Ball said. “We tried to have better possessions offensively to keep the ball out of Dakota’s hands, and the times we got sloppy is where they made their run.”
Despite being outscored 17 to 8 in the second period of overtime, the Raiders diversified their attack throughout.
Five Jackson Academy players scored in double figures, led by Austin Tucker’s 17 points. Brandon Hutchins and Greg Stewart each scored 12 points while Michael Morgan and Evans Wilkerson both chipped in 11.
The Raiders’ season is over while in the land of survive and advance, Marshall Academy lives to see another day.
The Patriots’ father-and-son duo will have another shot at making it one step further towards their joint goal.
For Dakota Dailey, sharing the ride with his father, whether it lasts one or two more games, makes the journey that much more special.
“He’s somebody I really look up to,” Dakota Dailey said. “He’s perfect. I want to be him one day. I really do.”