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The Suburbanite
  • Resilient Jackson trounces Lake 70-54

  • Jackson produced one of its best all-around performances of the season and handed Lake its first loss by beating the visiting Blue Streaks 70-54 on Tuesday night.

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  • The whole 2012-13 season has been a lesson in resiliency for the Jackson High School boys basketball team.
    Maybe the Polar Bears are beginning to figure it out.
    Jackson produced one of its best all-around performances and handed Lake its first loss by beating the visiting Blue Streaks 70-54 on Tuesday night.
    It hasn’t been easy for Jackson.
    There’s been the unpleasantness of the Scott Studer scandal.
    Miles Griffin — a senior leader and one of Stark County’s best players — wore a bow tie, not sneakers, Tuesday as he missed his seventh game thanks to a season-ending ACL injury last month.
    Head coach Tim Debevec
    wasn’t around Tuesday, as he served the first of a two-game suspension for being ejected from last week’s loss to Hoover by what seemed like an overzealous official.
    But here the Polar Bears (8-4, 5-1) are, halfway through the Federal League schedule and tied for the lead with Lake and Hoover.
    “We’ve seen a lot of adversity. We’ve gone through a lot of things this year,” said assistant coach Jon Perdue after gaining his first career head coaching win in Debevec’s absence. “It’s just a credit to our kids how they’ve stuck together. They keep
    fighting.”
    With Lake hounding leading scorer Evan Bailey much of the night, the Polar Bears received various contributions. Junior David Smith scored a team-high 17 points, making 3 of 4 3-pointers, while senior Nick Dillon scored 16.
    “I think he opened things up for the whole team with his drives early getting to the rim,” Perdue said about Dillon.
    Before junior Kyle Mottice talked to the media, Perdue joked with reporters, saying, “He’s a 30 on the ACT. Make sure he sounds that way.”
    Mottice was every bit that sharp on the court. He totaled 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals while guiding a Jackson team that committed only eight turnovers.
    “When Miles was here I didn’t handle the ball nearly as much, so I definitely learned since his injury that I have to step up,” Mottice said.
    Jackson took control with a 13-2 run over the final three minutes of the first half. Smith hit two 3s, while Bailey made one and found Dillon for an alley-oop lay-up in transition. Dillon’s driving bucket with 21.8 seconds left had the Polar Bears up 39-25 at the break.
    Bailey struggled with his shot but managed to total 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists overall.
    “That’s what great players do,” Perdue said. “They draw the defense, and other guys step up and hit shots.”
    The Blue Streaks (9-1, 5-1), who came back from double-figure deficits earlier this season against Perry and McKinley, never let the game get away. But they also couldn’t get their deficit under 12 in the second half.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Tonight, we just never had a run in us,” said Lake head coach Tom McBride, whose team would have set a school mark for best start to a season with a win.
    Junior big man Mitchell Spotleson was difficult to handle inside and led the Blue Streaks with 21 points and five blocked shots. Fellow junior Alex Belinsky hit three 3-pointers and scored 16 points while grabbing a team-high eight rebounds.
    Jackson hurt Lake on the offensive glass, including a put-back tip by Bailey at the first-quarter buzzer and second-chance baskets by Mottice and Dillon during a 25-point second quarter.
    “They outhustled us to them. It’s not like they fell into their lap,” McBride said. “... I just thought they were a step quicker than us and a step more aggressive all night.”