The Grafton High boys basketball team trailed by eight points with little more than two minutes remaining against Jamestown on Wednesday night.
Yet the Clippers walked off the Eagles’ home floor with a 68-63 victory. An aggressive full-court press sparked the 13-point swing.
“It’s in the bag of tricks, and we needed a lift,” Grafton coach Jeremy Jordan said. “Christmas might have come early for me, to come out of here with a win tonight.”
With 2:20 left on the clock, Jamestown held an eight-point cushion, as it had since early in the first quarter.
The Eagles’ lead had reached as high as 15 points. While the Clippers had made some headway, they struggled to move past that eight-point barrier.
Jordan said he knew his team’s chances were running out, so he turned up the defensive pressure.
Jamestown almost escaped the press but threw the ball away as the Eagles tried to beat the defense up the court. The turnover led to a basket by Grafton forward Isaiah Nix.
Suddenly, the Eagles’ lead had dwindled to three points, and Jamestown coach Donovan Bridgeforth called timeout.
The break did nothing to cool off the Clippers. Grafton’s Moore and Morrow combined to force another turnover coming out of the timeout, then Moore scored a 3-pointer.
Jamestown finally beat the full-court press, but sophomore guard Brandon Herman missed a 3-pointer and the Clippers came up with the rebound.
Moore missed his own 3-pointer for Grafton, but Clippers forward Justin Bowers was fouled by Jamestown while going for the rebound. Bowers went to the free-throw line with 58.2 seconds left and made both to put the Clippers up 61-60, their first lead of the night.
The teams fouled back and forth through the final minute, but Grafton remained a step ahead.
The Clippers run a “Pack Line” defense, a take on man-to-man that keeps players close to the lane rather than chasing after players far from the basket.
Jordan knew his players were athletic enough to stretch the floor and press, but he did not expect to turn to that tactic in their second game of the season.
“I thought we were a step slow tonight and I was looking for something to give us some energy,” he said.
GRAFTON 68, JAMESTOWN 63
GRAFTON (2-0): Josh Moore 19; Isaiah Nix 2; Justin Bowers 14; Brandon Bomboy 18; Tyler Davis 5; Jackson Morrow 10. Totals 24 15-19 68.
JAMESTOWN (2-1): Jarontez Garrett 20; Chris Brown 3; Brandon Herman 9; Juwan Brown 21; Sean McCall 4; Chase Dively 6. Totals 23 10-18 63.
Grafton 7 12 20 29 - 68
Jamestown 20 14 15 14 - 63
3-point goals: Grafton 5 (Bomboy 3, Moore, Davis); Jamestown 7 (J. Brown 3, Moore, C. Brown, Herman, Dively).
Yanchulis can be reached by phone at 757-298-5176. Follow her on Twitter @KYanchulis.