Jeremiah Jackson muscles up for 35 points as Perry rallies to beat Massillon in a sectional final.
Early in Saturday afternoon’s second half, the Massillon student section chanted “weight room” at Jeremiah Jackson, poking fun at his slender build.
“It was funny,” the Perry High School senior said. “I get that a lot. I’m used to it.”
The Tigers and most opponents probably want Jackson in the weight room, because they can’t do anything with him on the basketball court.
Jackson scored 35 points on a variety of slashing drives and Perry rallied for a 55-45 win in an intense Division I sectional final between backyard rivals at Memorial Civic Center.
The Tigers couldn’t keep the 6-foot-1 guard in front of them. Jackson, Stark County’s leading scorer, went for 21 points in the second half alone. He made 11 of 21 shots and 12 of 16 free throws.
“I had to step up as a senior,” he said. “This could have been my last game. The team helped a lot and our defense picked up.”
Saturday was Jackson’s 19th straight game with 20 points or more. The second-seeded Panthers (17-6) needed all of his contributions to advance past Massillon and meet No. 3 seed Barberton (18-5) in next week’s district semifinal.
Perry held just one brief lead in the first three and a half quarters Saturday.
TURNOVERS HURT TIGERS
The Tigers (12-11) executed well for most of three quarters, pulling the ball out, spreading the floor and attacking when the moment was right. They shot the ball well, too, going 18-for-36 from the floor for the game.
But after building a 41-35 lead late in the third quarter, Massillon committed seven turnovers on its final 11 possessions.
“Our kids were prepared to win that game,” Massillon head coach Larry Taylor said. “They practiced very well and played their game plan very well. You can’t defend the foul line.”
Taylor was displeased with the free throw disparity. Massillon shot six foul shots in the second half. Perry shot 18.
“The game got physical and we got to the line (six times) in the second half,” Taylor said. “It is what it is. Their one player got to the line 16 times overall. ...
“He’s a great player, maybe the best player in the state of Ohio.”
Jackson’s two free throws with 2:54 left put Perry up for good at 47-45. After Drew Tormasi absorbed a Massillon offensive foul, Jackson’s driving bucket had the Panthers up two possessions with 1:46 left.
“Our team wasn’t ready to go home,” Jackson said. “This is actually the first time we’re happy to have practice on Monday.”
CJ Osborn provided a lift for the Panthers, scoring all eight of his points in the second half and grabbing a team-high seven rebounds. Perry also committed just three turnovers over the final three quarters.
Page 2 of 2 - “I thought we started warming up in the second half, playing with more tempo,” said Perry head coach Paul Wackerly, whose team was coming off a long layoff. “I think it helped.”
Massillon junior D’Anjelo Stewart scored 10 of his team-high 12 points in the second half. Sophomore Jordan Stock added 10 points and eight rebounds.
Emotions were high on the Tigers’ side, as they said goodbye to seniors Brody Tonn, Gareon Conley and Craig Smith.
“We wanted to become a stronger team, a better team and a closer team so we could make a bunch of new friends for life,” Taylor said. “That’s what these kids did.”
Reach Josh at 330-580-8426 or email@example.com
On Twitter: @jweirREP