by David Kellin, Editor@pantagraph.online
The loss by the Andrew Jackson Volunteers to Gray Collegiate 79-38 on Saturday was a hard loss for the team. They worked hard throughout the year, overcoming many obstacles and tough teams to earn the right to play in the final game of the season. Considered by many to be an unlikely contender, the Vols proved all the naysayers wrong. More than just a team, the AJ Nation included many more people than just the rostered players. Like the Seattle Seahawks, the AJ Vols had an additional player, a sixth player. That player was the fans and family of the team. There was a noticeable difference in support between the teams. AJ Nation fill one half of the arena. The Volunteers finish second in the state for the first time in 40 years.
The game was told by the numbers. Gray Collegiate had a much higher percentage of completions. The Gray Collegiate team effectively kept AJ top scorer from making their shots. The Volunteers made 31.7% of their Field Goals (13 of 41) compared to Gray Collegiate making 56% of theirs during the game. The Vols completed 2 of 14 trey attempts for a 14.3% rate. Gray Collegiate made 7 of 16 for a 43.8% completion rate on three pointers. The Vols made 10 of 15 free throws for 66.7%, compared to Gray Collegiate making 18 of 25 Free Throws for 72%.
The lead scorer for the Vols was DJ Ealey with 15 points. Ealey made 4 of 7 field goals and missed both three pointers. He shot 7 of 8 free throws successfully. He was in the game for a total of 27 minutes, the longest of the Vols players. Jamie Hinson scored 7 points by making 2 of 8 goals, 1 of 3 treys, and 2 of 3 free throws. OJ White made 2 of 8 goals, one trey for a total of 5 points. Jawquinn Black scored on 2 of 3 goals attempts for a total of 4 points. Joey Walters, Josh Adams, and Shiheme Ricks each added 2 points. Tyrone Gilford scored a free throw for one point.
During the first half, the Vols made 40.9% of their goal attempts, 25% of their three point shots, and 66.7% of Free Throws. A dramatic drop in their scoring ability dropped to 21.1% of goals attempted in the second half. They were made no three-point attempts in the second half, and their free throw percentage remained at 66.7%
Gray Collegiate was able to stop the three-point game and close the scoring lanes for the Vols in the second half. The top scorer for the Gray Collegiate team was Tommy Bruner with 19 points.
The game was within reach early on as the Vols were behind by just 7 during the first quarter 21-14. The score at the half was 34-26 with Vols trailing by 8 points. The scoring gap widened into the third quarter to 13 points with the Vols trailing 50-37. The Gray Collegiate team scored 28 unanswered points in the final quarter to win by 79-38.
The Vols finish with a record of 17-6. This is the first time in 39 years that the Volunteers have made it to the state championship. Their last visit resulted in a win for the Vols. They played in the 1979 and the 1980 Championships, losing in 1979 and winning in 1980
It was not the outcome the Vols and AJ Nation wanted. It is a testament to how dedication, hard work, and fundamentals can propel you into the top game of the season. There is much to be proud of with this season, and instead of focusing on the result of one game, the focus can be on the 17 games that were won. The focus can be on the unity of the Kershaw Community who came out in mass to support this team. Tomorrow is Day One on the road to the 2020 State Championships.