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Even though he hasn’t been in town all that long, Tony Jackson has had 20-plus point performances on the freshman and junior varsity teams for North Hardin.
So it would seem the chiseled 6-foot-4, 180-pound forward would dominate and deliver when playing against kids his own age.
The third-seeded North Middle Spartans haven’t lost since Jackson’s arrival last month, running their winning streak to six and ending their season with a 13-6 record Thursday night with a 36-29 win over the fifth-seeded Bluegrass Colts in the championship game of the Middle School Athletic Conference’s eighth-grade boys’ basketball tournament at West Hardin.
“I always believed we could get here,” said North coach Malik Rasheed. “And he kind of just put us over the top.”
Jackson put the Spartans over the top of the Colts with his late-game heroics, scoring 10 of his game-high 14 points in the second half.
“He’s just so much better than this level,” Rasheed said. “He’s not playing hard all the time and he’s still always been the best player on the floor since he got here.”
Jackson transferred in early January from Montgomery, Ala., where he played eighth-grade ball but nothing high school wise.
He made an immediate impact, scoring a game-high 13 points in his debut last month against West Hardin.
“When he came in, I told him, ‘You know you’re getting to play tonight, right?’” Rasheed recalled. “He said, ‘But Coach, I don’t know any plays.’ I said, ‘Well, do you know how to put the ball in the basket?’ He said, ‘Yeah,’ and I said, ‘OK, then. Let’s just go from there.’”
Where there took the Spartans was a wild ride. He scored 16 of his game-high 26 points after halftime in the Spartans’ semifinal win against Stuart Pepper. In North’s previous game, he scored a game-high 17 in a 32-23 win over West Hardin.
“He’s a legitimate man-child and I can only imagine just how good he will be when he gives 110 percent all the time,” Rasheed said. “As long as he sticks around, he’s the future of the North Hardin program.”
While he might have seemed like a one-man-child wrecking crew Thursday, Jackson got some help. Guard Yanis Grayer added 10 points, six of which came on a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter. Forward Jay Pitre had seven points, while center Izaiah Jones scored five.
Other Spartan players are guards Isaiah Bankhead, Teyvon Cooper and Simeon Packer and forwards George Mitchell, Davione Higgins, Cameron Muss, Marcus Dixon, Todd Roberts, Jordan Green and Dante Smalls.
Starting guards Korie Cleveland and Robert Shorter and reserve forward Mickey Pearson scored six points each for the Colts. Forward Zion Smalling added four points, while forward Marvin Swanson added three points, forward Kendrick Johnson had two and center Anthony Witherspoon and guard Andrew Minnis had one point each.
Other Colt players are guard Jermiah Evans, forward Raleigh Boulware, guard Bailey Hall, forward R.J. Mooring, center Marcus Goodwin, guard Rylan Jaquess and forward Samuel Solomon.
Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at (270) 505-1758 or email@example.com.