Jackson Lumen Christi came into Friday night’s boys’ basketball game against Pennfield with one thing on their mind: clinching the first-ever Interstate 8 Conference championship.
Pennfield (9-10) had thoughts of spoiling the Titans’ dreams, and kept the game close through three quarters, but eventually it was Lumen Christi who won the game, 75-53, and improved to 17-1 overall on the season.
The final score is not indicative of how close the game was, as the Titans led by just two points, 44-42 near the end of the third quarter.
“I thought we were doing a good job in our halfcourt defense,” said Pennfield head coach Steve Grimes. “They were having a little trouble getting the shots that they wanted, and I credit our defense to that.
“But then in the fourth quarter, we started turning the ball over and I think they tired us out a little bit. It seemed like they were running in a different gear and we weren’t getting back..”
Ron Jamierson and Branden Rugg each had big first halves to keep the game close early, scoring six and five points, respectively in the second quarter. Jamierson finished the night with nine points, while Rugg led the team with 11 points.
Lumen Christi regained their lead before halftime, though, and went into the locker room with a 30-26 advantage.
It was more of the same in the third quarter, as the Titans held a lead for the entire quarter, but never by more than six points. Late in the third, a pair of free throws by Deviare Todd and a put back layup from Ryan Lowe cut the Panther deficit to just two points, 44-42. Lowe finished the game with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, the Titans took over late and outscored Pennfield 28-11 in the fourth quarter.
Khari Willis led the Titans in the fourth with 11 of his overall 25 points in the fourth quarter. Henry Berkenmeier scored eight of his eventual 11 points in the period also.
“They were switching in and out of pressure defenses, and they did a good job with that,” said Grimes. “We didn’t handle it..”