Jaguars lose heartbreaker to Navarro

By Don Wallace

It was a game that slipped away from Jacksonville College.

The win was almost in the books for the Jaguars, then a series of unfortunate events occured allowing the Navarro College Bulldogs to escape town with a 65-62 victory.

Down the stretch, the Jaguars did the following: make unexplained turnovers, get called for a five second inbounds call, allow two points off a steal and get whistled for a traveling violation with the game on the line.

All the things combined to open the door and let Navarro snatch the victory from the Jaguars.

“It was one of the most disappointing losses I have had in my 22 years of coaching,” Greg Young, Jacksonville College head basketball coach said. “Not just that we lost, but the way we lost. We had such a lackadaisical finish after we had fought back to get in the game. We just didn’t finish the game and Navarro did. It was such a big game, one I thought we had at home and it slipped away. I am very disappointed.”

Jacksonville College had several things go against them, one noteable factor was the lack of play of Arthur Zulu. Zulu fouled out with 5:07 with just six points. He was in foul trouble most of the game when his performance was needed by the Jaguars against the strong rebounding Bulldogs.

After a poor first half, Jacksonville College found themselves in a hole, down 33-22 as the second half began.

But Jaguars all got out the shovels and with an inspired effort all worked together to get back in the game. Royce Gaye led the way with five points in three minutes following a Quentin Pettit tip in for a bucket in the paint. The Navarro lead was sliced to 37-33 five minutes into the final half.

Sammy Jackson hit a long distance bomb for three points as and Marcus Anderson converted a traditional three-point play as he made a free throw after he was hacked in the act of scoring. With 10:03 left in the final half, Jacksonville College trailed by a lone point, 44-43.

Navarro got a 3-pointer from Neko Sylianou and Warrell Span joined Kyndall Dykes in a scoring run for Navarro. The Jaguars were down 50-46 at the 8:51 mark.

Jacksonville College then regrouped and went on an 8-4 scoring burst, points coming from Anderson, Gaye and Zuly to tie the game at 54-all with 5:31 left.

The teams traded hoops with Gaye scoring for JC and Dykes popping the net for the Bulldogs. Then the Jaguars started to make critical mistakes down the stretch. Jacksonville College came up with a steal, but was called for traveling at the other end.

Navarro turned the ball over to the Jaguars, but they gave it back with a turnover of their own at the 1:12 mark. Jacksonville College was leading 59-58 following a Gaye three-point play.

But Navarro got the lead when Dykes picked the pocket of the Jaguars and converted a steal into a layup and Navarro edged ahead 60-59 with 50.9 seconds left.

Chris Roberts made three free throws for Navarro to allow the Bulldogs to ake a 63-59 lead with 27.71 seconds left. Gaye responded with a three point as he made the free throw after he was fouled while scoring on a tip in at the 18.17 second mark. The Navarro squad had a 63-62 lead and the ball.

The Jaguars caught a break as they had to foul and with 15.05 seconds on the clock Jamar Flowers missed both free shots giving JC the ball, down just a point.

With 3.35 left in the game Deivadas Petravicius, a 6-foot-6 player for JC from Lithuania, was called for traveling as he tried to force a drive down the lane through heavy traffic. Navarro sank two late free throws to secure the 65-62 victory.

In the first half, neither team could pull away early. The Jaguars and Bulldogs were tied at 10 with 10 minutes gone off the game clock. In the final 10 minutes of the first half, Navarro out-scored Jacksonville College 23-12 using offensive rebounding to fuel the rally. Navarro had 10 points in the paint directly linked to offensive putbacks from Bulldog rebounds.

The first half ended with Jacksonville College trailing 33-22. Navarro scored down the stretch to claim the win by the final of 65-62.

Gaye had 20 and was the only JC player in double digits. Anderson and Jackson had 9 each, Pettit 8, Orrin Greer and Zulu 6 apiece, Petravicius 3 and Michael Pouncy 1 point.

Span paced Navarro with 17, while dykes scored 14 and Roberts tossed in 10.

Jacksonville College drops to 13-10, 6-10 for the year.

“We have six games left and we need to win at least four of them, maybe more,” Young said. “This loss at home really hurts. It is going to be tough to turn it around and win several in a row, but we are going to try and play better.”

Jacksonville College will play in Lufkin Saturday with the women’s game at 2 p.m. followed by the men’s contest at 4 p.m.

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