Logan Hill and Kyle Young each reached 20 points as the Polar Bears rolled into the Division I regional final.
AKRON Late in the third quarter of Thursday’s Division I regional semifinal, Jackson senior Logan Hill hit a driving layup, fell to the floor and slid all the way to the Polar Bear sideline. As he got up, Jackson coach Tim Debevec hit Hill’s back with a wicked chest bump that nearly knocked Hill to the ground.
“I did not expect that,” Hill said afterward, grinning. “I honestly thought I was going to fall back down and go past halfcourt (the same way) I came to the sideline.”
Said Debevec, “I didn’t mean to do that. It’s the emotion of the game.”
Whatever it was, Debevec may have been the only one inside James A. Rhodes Arena who managed to push Hill away from the basket.
The Toledo recruit scored a team-high 21 points, including 10 in the third quarter when he erupted for three dunks, to go with four rebounds and three blocks, powering the Polar Bears to a dominating 80-59 win over Medina in a Division I regional final.
Butler recruit Kyle Young added 20 points — with two dunks in the fourth quarter — along with nine rebounds, while Kyle Nicolas had 15 points and Jaret Pallotta had 12 points and 10 assists for Jackson (24-2), which will play Toledo St. John’s in Saturday night’s regional final at the JAR. Hill and Young shot a combined 17 of 24 from the field.
“I love driving the middle (of the lane) knowing on the left baseline I’ve got Logan to dunk it, and on the right baseline I’ve got Kyle to dunk it,” Pallotta said. “It’s a great feeling.”
Pallotta scored eight of his points in the first quarter as Jackson jumped out to a 24-13 lead on 11 of 17 shooting, which finished with Dillon Dingler’s banked-in 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The most impressive thing about the Polar Bears’ start? Young didn’t even score.
“I would call them a freight train,” Medina coach Chris Hassinger said. “I would say don’t stand in front of them. They’re just really, really good. We had no answer for anything they did. We tried to take away their easy perimeter 3s, which I don’t think they got a lot of, and I thought we were in decent positions protecting the (rim) and they still got layups and dunks.
“Just got to give them credit. They were better than us.”
Jackson led by double digits throughout the final three quarters, although Medina did manage to score 40 points in the second half to make it entertaining, if not competitive. The Polar Bears shot 62 percent from the field for the game (32 of 52), held a sizable rebounding advantage (34-25) and committed just six turnovers against 21 assists.
“Our guys played well from the get-go,” Debevec said. “They just kept attacking.
“We played a great game tonight.”
Luke Schaefer scored 16 points to lead Medina (18-7), although he needed 18 shots to do it. Ben Geschke added 11 points and Jimmy Daw had 10. The Bees defeated Jackson in the district tournament three years ago but were at a severe talent disadvantage on Thursday.
“We go into most games thinking we have the advantage,” Pallotta said. “Games like that when we really take advantage of it, that’s when it’s really fun.”
This is the second straight year a Federal League team has reached the regional final and third time in four years. Lake fell to Cleveland East Tech in overtime four years ago and McKinley lost to eventual state runner-up Lima Senior last year after ousting the Polar Bears in the district final. (When asked if he watched any of the Pups’ regional games, Pallotta said, “I did not. It hurt too much.”)
No Stark County team has advanced to the Division I state tournament since the Polar Bears won it all in 2010.
To break that streak, Jackson must get past St. John’s (25-2), the state’s fifth-ranked team.
“St. John’s is really good,” Debevec said. “They’ve got kids from all over Toledo and Michigan and you’ve just got to beat them teams. Nothing new. We’ll watch film tonight and tomorrow and prepare. It’s a quick turnaround.
“Our guys have just been playing loose the last couple games. Hopefully we can keep it up.”
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