Heath Jackson saved his best when the game was on the line for the Elkins Knights in a Region III-5A semifinal matchup with Bryan at Delmar Fieldhouse.
The senior point guard scored 11 of his 15 points in the third quarter when Elkins was nursing a precarious two-point halftime lead (32-30) and widened the advantage to as many as 15 points (50-35) on the second of his 3-pointers in the stanza.
“Heath is a fantastic player. He sets the tone for us,” said Elkins head coach Albert Thomas. “With his defense, ball-handling and floor generalship, he has a really good knowledge of the game. He didn’t want to go home and he did what he had to do.”
Jackson increased Elkins lead to 37-30 on a driving layup and a 3-pointer before adding another layup. a free throw and three-pointer as Elkins carried a 52-45 advantage into the final eight minutes.
“I was telling my team to wake up. It’s either win or go home,” Jackson said. “They know when we make mistakes that I’m going to get on them and they acknowledge it.”
Jackson had plenty of help with Vernon Harrell supplying 22 points, 17 rebounds, five blocked shots and two steals along with 11 points from senior guard Timothy Denton.
“Bryan is a good team and they came at us a little bit different from other teams we’ve seen this season,” Thomas said. “I knew we were going to have to make some adjustments and that’s what we did. The key was staying back on defense instead of pressuring full-court.”
Elkins survived a 10-2 Bryan run near the end of the game that brought the Vikings within 65-63 with 1:04 remaining in the game.
The 29-11 Knights put the game away with an 8-0 spurt to end the contest.
“We’re looking forward to the next round,” Thomas said. “We just have to play some defense and make a few shots.”