Jaguars Take Three in a Row with Wins over Rebels, Wildcats and Clippers —Off to Best Start in Jaguar History
BY NEAL MEYER
Your Truman/Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain Jaguars moved to 7-4 this past week by overtaking the 7-4 United South Central Rebels 61-47, defeating the 2-7 Heron Lake-Okabena Wildcats 66-57, and narrowly escaping with a 57-54 three-point win over the 2-8 Cleveland Clippers.
The USC game was the final game for the Jags in the Blue Earth Tournament. In opening round action the Jags lost to the Jackson County Central Huskies 91-64. But since that time have been on a roll.
Against the Wildcats head coach Adam Walker said, “We jumped out early with a 13-0 lead thanks to a [sophomore] Matt Heckman three-pointer and great inside presence from [senior] Paxton Gravlin and [freshman] Adam Heckman. [Sophomore] Owen Wolter added a three-pointer and a couple buckets as well, and [sophomore] Cael Jaskulke scored two straight baskets to push the lead to 28-11 with about five minutes to play.”
Walker continued, “We played great defensively for the first 15 minutes of the game but two straight three-point plays by HL-O cut the lead down to 10 and eventually eight at the half 35-27.
"HL-O started the second half the way they ended the first half and eventually tied the game at 38. They created a lot of turnovers in order to claw back into the game.
"With the score tied about half way through the second half, [senior] Isaac Johnson kicked it into high gear scoring a game-high 13 second-half points all on two-pointers that were mostly in transition to ignite the Jags back into a 10-point lead. [Junior] Cayden Fischer added a couple buckets of his own and the Jaguar defense began to clamp down on HL-O, holding them to only eight points in the last six minutes. A Heckman and Wolter then iced the game from the free throw line and the Jags pulled out the rugged win in Okabena 66-57 for their second in a row away from home.
"It was great to get that win as our Conference schedule really starts to heat up in January. We have a very busy schedule with a lot of road games upcoming so every win is important.”
Johnson led the Jags with a team-high 17 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Gravlin followed that with 11 points, a team-high seven rebounds and three assists. A Heckman scored seven to go with five rebounds, three assists, and a ridiculous team-high seven blocked shots. M Heckman scored seven and added four boards, four assists and three steals. Jaskulke put up eight, grabbed four rebounds and stuffed three Wildcats. Wolter netted 11 to go with three boards and a team-high five assists.
The Jags were back on the road on Monday to challenge the Clippers. Walker said, “Monday night in Cleveland the Jags jumped out early! A Heckman dominated early with a three-pointer and a three-point play to score our first six points, and then continued his performance with 14 of our first 24 points. Wolter contributed a three of his own to help build a 24-11 lead with six minutes left in the first half. Our last two games have seen us come out of the gates early in dominating fashion. The lead would not grow any further however as Cleveland caught fire with a couple three-pointers and the halftime score found the Jags in front 29-22.”
Walker continued, “Six straight points by Cleveland to start the second half would find the Jags up only one point and eventually tied at 36. Cleveland would never take the lead in the second half as the game went back and forth with yet another surge out of the Jags to build a lead up to eight at 45-37 with four minutes left. Cleveland would not go away however and would bury two threes in a row and cut the lead to two before Gravlin knocked down a huge three-pointer to stop the momentum. Fischer and Wolter made a pair of free throws down the stretch which would build the lead to five with 30 seconds left in the game. Cleveland's press gave us some trouble as we committed two straight turnovers and a desperation three by Cleveland went in to cut the lead to two with seven seconds left. A Heckman made 1-of-2 from the line and a last second three fell short for Cleveland as the Jags escaped a tough environment 57-54.”
A Heckman dominated against the Clippers with team-highs in scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots. He put up 23 points to go with six boards and a pair of blocked shots. Wolter put up 11, added a pair of assists and rebounds, and swiped a team-high five steals. M Heckman scored four, grabbed four boards and dished out a team-high five assists, and Gravlin hit double digits with 10 points and added four boards and a pair of assists.
Walker wrapped up his comments by saying, “Monday games are tough, especially on the road against a Conference opponent, and for us to only give Cleveland one lead during the game at 10 seconds in and not give it back is a testament to our group. It's not always pretty but we scrap and claw and make plays when we need to! I am very proud of their efforts tonight! Two straight games now we built big leads early and allowed teams to hang around. We easily could have faltered on the road, but we work hard and to be as inexperienced as we were coming into the season, I'm so proud of the guys for continuing to battle. Our record is now 7-4 and two of our losses came at the hands of a very good Jackson team, so I am very happy with where we are sitting right now.”
As a collective of Truman, Martin Luther, and Granada-Huntley-East Chain, this is the best record the team has had 11 games into any season played thus far. The last time Truman opened a season 7-4 was in the 2010-11 season. The Jaguars are currently 7-4 overall, 4-2 in the Section, and 2-0 in the Conference.
The Jaguars will be at home this Thursday, January 10th in Northrop to face the 3-7 Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Bulldogs. Game time set for 7:15 p.m. On Monday, January 14th the team will be on the road to take on the 1-9 Fulda Raiders at 7:15 p.m. To wrap up the weeks’ play the Jags will be on the road on Tuesday, January 15th to face the 3-4 AA Martin County West Mavericks at 7:15 p.m. Good luck Jags!