By Don Wallace
TYLER — Jacksonville’s dream of advancing in the Class 4A basketball playoffs ended here Tuesday night.
The Tribe had a poor night shooting the ball and suffered because of it, losing 57-51 to a spirited Lindale squad in bi-district action at the Robert E.Lee varsity gym.
The Eagles, 21-11, advance to play Richardson Pearce in the area round of the playoffs.
Jacksonville saw its season coming a halt with a 22-9 mark — the Indians and their fans wondering what might have been on a different night.
The Indians had defeated Lindale by 16 points earlier in the season. But this night belonged to the high-flying Eagles. Lindale outscored the Indians 16-11 in the key final period to take the hard-fought win.
“I’ll pat Lindale on the back and tell them ‘good game,’” Roynal Bridgeforth, Jacksonville head basketball coach, said after the heartbreaking loss.
Bridgeforth turned to the collection of disappointed Indians in the locker room and said, “I did not say not to cry. That’s passion you have for the game and I love you for it. That’s what makes this team a family. We’ll learn from this game and continue to get better. I’m just sad my two seniors (Jay Jimenez and Kelvin Hall) won’t get to play any more for us.”
Lindale was paced by Imran Chotanni with 15 points, nine coming in the final period, and 6-8 Cameron Dossey with 14 points.
Jacksonville got 12 points each from Donovan Bridgeforth and Dowindle Hamilton.
The Indians set the tone in the first half; the second half Lindale responded and won the game.
In the first half, Jacksonville got two 3-pointers from freshman point guard Donovan Bridgeforth and the Indians were out and rolling, 8-6. Jay Jimenez added a triple, but Lindale was staying within striking distance. Buckets by Chotanni and Travis Rhea cut into the Tribe lead. The first period ended with Jacksonville holding a slim 16-15 advantage.
Lindale’s Dossey was called for a technical foul for rough play when he battled Jacksonville’s Ryan Black for a loose ball. Black made the two free throws and Jacksonville got the ball to start the second period.
Jacksonville built a lead of six points, 23-17, following scores by Hamilton and Tradderon Moreland at the four-minute mark. The Eagles would not go away as Rhea hit three free throws and Dossey scored in the paint. Jacksonville responded with a late bucket by Hall in the lane. The Indians held a slim, 27-26 halftime lead.
The Eagles came out like a house afire in the third period, going on a 6-0 run in under two minutes to jump ahead of the Indians, 32-27. Lindale continued to score with Dossey hitting one of two free throws and Spencer Terry scoring on a slick spin move, forcing Jacksonville to regroup, trailing 35-27 halfway through the third stanza.
Jacksonville could not get any consistent play to gain momentum. Bridgeforth scored on a floater in the lane, but seconds later a double-dribble call on the Indians thwarted a scoring chance.
Lindale padded the lead to 10 points, 39-29, at the 3:30 mark of the third period. But Jacksonville got points from Bridgeforth. Hamilton turned a steal into a bucket. Black, a left-handed quarterback in football, threw a perfect pass to Hall for a basket in the paint. Black then hit a clutch 3-pointer in the final seconds of the third period. The Indians were down by a lone point, 41-40, as action shifted to the final period.
Black hit another 3-pointer and Jacksonville was trailing 44-43 when Lindale went on an 8-0 run to go ahead 52-43 as Jacksonville called a time out.
Hamilton and Black added late shots, but Lindale hung on down the stretch.
“I am so proud of this team and the effort we had. We came up short, but we will be back and even get better. We have some guys on this team who will play some big games, even bigger than this one, because they turned in their sneakers.”
Jacksonville played four freshmen in the game and several underclassmen have key roles on the team.
“Yes, we have a bright future. It is hard for some to see right now because of the disappointment of this loss. It hurts, the kids hurt, but we will be alright. Our shots would not fall and Lindale made their shots, I can’t say much more than that. But we played hard, this team made me look like a genius the way they played. This is a special group, I’m proud I got to coach them,” Bridgeforth added.
Score by quarters
Jacksonville-Donovan Bridgeforth, 12; Tradderon Moreland, 2; Kelvin Hall, 4; Dowindle Hamilton, 12; Ryan Black, 10; Jacolby Scott, 1; Jay Jimenez, 5; Chris Williams, 5.
3-point goals, Bridgeforth (2), Black (2), Jimenez.
Jacksonville season ends, 22-9; Lindale advances to play Richardson Pearce Friday in Wills Point in the area playoffs.
By Don Wallace