Jaret Pallotta had 18 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists to lead the Polar Bears
JACKSON TWP. The Jackson boys basketball team watches game film of every opponent.
When it comes to Lake, the Polar Bears watch post-game film, too.
“There’s a video from three years ago of them winning here and going into our visiting locker room and (celebrating),” Jackson senior Jaret Pallotta said of a YouTube that shows the Blue Streaks getting a little carried away in a celebration that involved throwing a chair, kicking a chair and punching the ceiling. “It was a little obnoxious, so we always watch that video before we play them to get pumped before the game.”
For the Polar Bears, that energy carried over into the second half of Saturday’s Federal League showdown as Jackson put together a dominant 16 minutes to pull away for a 58-40 victory over a team that Pallotta considers Jackson’s biggest rival in basketball.
“Defensively, that’s the best we’ve played all year,” said Polar Bears coach Tim Debevec, whose team outscored the Blue Streaks 36-16 in the second half. “We brought a lot of energy in the second half and shut down some of their key guys, which was important.”
Pallotta played one of the best games of his career, piling up 18 points with 12 rebounds and seven assists. His size (6-foot-6) and long arms gave Lake fits, as Jackson ran much of its offense through Pallotta in the post.
“This was a game I really wanted,” said Pallotta, a UMass quarterback recruit. “In the first half, our energy was down a little bit because we played a game last night, but in the second half, it came down to it being Lake at home and we found a different gear.
“We brought some energy on the defensive end that we haven’t had all year and that helped our offense get some easy baskets.”
Lake senior Mike Spotleson scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half as the Blue Streaks dictated the pace and took a 24-22 halftime lead. But Spotleson picked up his third foul with 5:49 left in the third quarter and senior forward Jake Schulz got his third just 25 seconds later.
With two Lake starters out, the Bears feasted, outscoring the Blue Streaks 11-1 over the final 3:33 of the third quarter to take a 41-32 lead into the fourth.
“That third quarter was just disastrous as far as us giving them rebounds and second-chance opportunities,” Lake coach Tom McBride said. “We didn’t come out with the toughness we needed as far as boxing out and digging deep and following our principles on defense and it kind of snowballed over a four-minute stretch. We just kind of lost our game plan a little bit.”
Although Lake senior Jeremy Brady opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer to make it a six-point game, the Polar Bears answered with seven quick points to end any lingering suspense.
Senior Ethan Stanislawski added 16 points for Jackson (10-4, 5-2), which is a half-game behind Lake (10-2, 6-2) in the league standings. Green — which is 2-1 against the Polar Bears and the Blue Streaks this season — is the league’s only one-loss team remaining.
Brady had seven points and Matt Spotleson added six for the Blue Streaks, who will host Jackson on Feb. 16.
“The beauty of league play is you get everyone twice,” McBride said. “We’ll go back to the drawing board and see if we can’t put together a good 10-game stretch to end the (regular) season.”
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