Jacksonville not only beat previously undefeated Hallsville Tuesday afternoon at the John Alexander Gymnasium, but they did so after losing starting point guard Karmelo Clayborne to an ankle injury with just over 7:00 left in the first quarter.
Indian head coach Mark Alexander rallied the troops, modified the game plan, and when the final horn had sounded, Jacksonville (2-0) walked away with a 64-54 triumph over the Bobcats (4-1).
Hallsville lived up to its billing for the first quarter as the Bobcats took a 16-6 lead into the second frame by running its offense to near perfection and keeping the Indians' chief scoring threat, Vito High, scoreless for the first eight minutes of play.
High got rolling in the second quarter and he ended up leading all players in scoring by pouring in 32 points, which included three triples.
“After we lost our point guard, we had to change some things up,” High said. “Coach (Alexander) told me I had the green light from that point on and I was able to do some things that I am not asked to do normally.”
High, a senior, showed what he could do on the hardwood on more than one occasion in the fourth quarter.
With 6:27 left to play High came up with a steal near half court and drove to the basket and finished things off with a one-handed flush that put the Tribe in front, 47-43.
After falling behind by as many as 10 points midway of the final period, the Bobcats continued to battle and closed the margin to 57-54 after a bucket by Donte Harrison at the 1:03 mark.
But, once again, it was High that stepped up by scoring four points in the final minute to preserve the win for the Indians (2-0).
“We didn't play well early on, but as the game went on we seemed to turn on the intensity as a team,” High said.
After turning the ball over only two times in the first half, Jacksonville's pressure and up-tempo style of play forced the Bobcats to commit 14 miscues in the second half.
Hallsville led 27-26 at the break, with the Tribe outscoring their guests 38-27 in the second half.
Other players of impact for Jacksonville were Kalvin Bryant (8 points, 5 rebounds), Devin McCuin (8 points, 3 rebounds) and Jermaine Taylor (7 points, 4 rebounds).
Anthony McDermott led the Bobcats in scoring with 16 points while Taylor Sheffield put it eight.
Hallsville won the junior varsity game, 46-36.
Jacksonville will travel to Marshall (1-1) for a 1:30 p.m. contest on Friday. This will be the Indians' first road game of the new season.