Jacobs lifts Wildcats past Falcons
BOYS BASKETBALL | DAVENPORT NORTH 65, DAVENPORT WEST 63

Jacobs lifts Wildcats past Falcons

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Lesson learned.

A night after Davenport North’s Mehki Jacobs missed a contested 3-pointer as time expired in a one-point loss to North Scott, he found the ball back in his hands in the waning seconds of a tied game against Davenport West on Friday.

This time, rather than hoisting up a shot from long distance, the junior guard drove into the lane and hit a leaner with 14 seconds left to give North a 65-63 lead. The Wildcats would hold on for the Mississippi Athletic Conference victory when West’s Jamal Winston missed a tightly guarded 3-pointer at the buzzer.

“That was going through my head the whole time,” Jacobs said of how Thursday’s game ended. “There’s no point to shoot it when the lane’s open. Just go take it.”

It’s exactly what North head coach Marc Polite wanted to see from Jacobs and his Wildcats (13-6, 10-4 MAC).

“That’s a play I’m glad he made,” Polite said, “because last night we were in a similar situation and we didn’t get the shot that we wanted. We always say that in end-game situations we want to attack the lane. I think that was a sign of growth by him and by our team that we’re not going to settle for jump shots in those situations but get down into the paint and see what you can make happen. He was able to find a seam, step through it and make a good play.”

West (2-15, 0-13 MAC), which had come back time and time again in Friday’s contest, had one final chance to again tie or win the game. After a foul gave the Falcons an inbound under their own basket with 3.7 seconds left, Jermaine Gardner got the ball in to Winston, who had 21 points in the game. But North’s Quincy Wiseman was right in Winston’s face, and the 3-point shot rimmed out as time expired.

“Jamal has been the guy for us all season. It was in his hands, and he took a great shot and just missed it,” West head coach David Robinson said. “We got a good shot off, but it just didn’t go down.”

North, which had suffered one-point losses to Davenport Assumption and North Scott this week, was finally able to pull out a close game.

“We’ve played three close games this week, and I think this was a great experience for us. Previous to this, we’ve been winning a lot of our games by eight or more points, so to play these games where it’s a possession by possession situation, I think that’s good experience. We’re young guys. We don’t have a lot of guys with varsity experience prior to this season, and we weren’t put in that situation early in the season like we were hoping, so to be able to get this before we start postseason where you’re going to see a lot of situations like this, I think it’s great for us.”

Jayden Houston scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Wildcats, and Sam Wellman hit five 3-pointers and added 15 points. Wiseman scored 13 points, and Jacobs finished with 10.

Winston’s 21 points led a short-handed West squad, and Diontray Whitney hit four 3-pointers and added a career-high 14 points. Logan Petersen made three shots from long distance and scored a career-high 11 points, and Derek Erwin scored a career-high 10 points. Point guard Jermaine Gardner had seven points, 10 assists, five rebounds and two steals.

West built a 10-point lead late in the first half, and led 42-36 at the break. But the Falcons didn’t score until Winston got a steal and a layup late in the third quarter, trimming North’s lead to 49-44. Winston hit a 3-pointer moments later to cut the lead to two, but Wellman banked in a long 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer to give the Wildcats a five-point cushion heading into the fourth.

North still led 61-56 with just over two minutes remaining after a Wiseman layup, but Winston answered with a leaner in the paint, and then Gardner got a steal and a layup to pull West within one with a minute and a half left. Wiseman got free for a layup with 54 seconds remaining to put North up 63-60, but Diontray Whitney drained a 3-pointer with 24 seconds left that tied the game.

“He was wide open, and he does what he does and knocked it down,” Robinson said of Whitney’s game-tying 3. “He was under control and had his feet up under him. He didn’t rush it, took his time, and knocked down a big shot for us.”

But the Wildcats rushed down the floor, and Jacobs drove into the lane for the game-winner. Still, Robinson was proud of the fight of his squad.

“They played hard, man. Our guys played their hearts out,” he said. “We were really short-handed. We’ve got guys who are injured. We’ve got guys who have the flu and can’t play. The six guys who played tonight played their butts off.”

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