If West Jones' game-winning three from near half-court last Friday night wasn't enough for basketball fans in Jones County, Northeast Jones guard Jalin Naylor gave the area another one precisely one week later.
Naylor’s long three at the buzzer Friday night in ‘The Jungle’ jolted the Tigers to victory over Vancleave, 52-49, in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
“I knew I’d make it,” said Naylor. “My teammate saw me wide open. After the pass - shot and bucket.”
Naylor had just five points to his name before his game-winner.
“Our guy who caught the inbound pass made an unselfish play and hit Naylor, who’s been clutch this season but [struggled in the game until then],” said Northeast Jones head coach Kyle Robinson. “I told Naylor after the game that he was in the game because he’s been loyal to us all season. I’m proud of him. He fought through till the end.”
Tied at 49-all, Northeast Jones forced a Vancleave turnover that rolled out of bounds with three seconds left in regulation. Naylor’s basket denied Vancleave a chance for overtime.
“We didn’t have the best timing,” said Robinson. “I told [Davian Jefferson] not to get a five-second call on the inbounds because we don’t have another timeout. We rushed it. We had the back screen open, but we made the safe play instead.”
Down by three with 11 seconds left, Mackenzie Frasier pulled off an and-one basket to pull Northeast Jones within one, 49-48. His free throw tied the game at 49 apiece.
“I was trying to kick the ball out to a teammate for a three-pointer, but he told me to take it,” said Frasier. “So I took it to the hole and laid the ball up.”
Fraiser scored seven of his ten points in the final period.
"First of all, I have to talk about his perseverance," said Robinson. "He lost his mother last summer. He hung his head a couple of times tonight but came through for us [in the end]."
Northeast Jones led by as many as 12 points in the second period. Vancleave pulled within one, 22-21, before the half on an 11-0 run to close out the second period and half.
Vancleave overtook Northeast Jones late in the third period, and for all but the final 11 seconds of the fourth led the Tigers in the final period.
"Hats off the Vancleave," said Robinson. "They're a disciplined team. They took the ball to the goal and hurt our pride for a bit. We didn't execute our scouting report too well and made some bad closeouts. Having Quandarious Shelby foul-out hurt us, but that's no excuse. They had one of their guys out too on crutches. This time of the year, you have to fight through adversities and trust your depth."
Shelby finished with just two points but helped the team out tremendously in collecting rebounds.
“I didn’t play my best,” said Shelby. “I felt under-the-weather all night. We all had our heads down for a moment, but I had to be a leader and help them any way I could.”
Along with Fraiser, Josh Hosey finished the night in double-digits as well with 10 points.
Northeast Jones advances to the second round of the 4A playoffs. Their opponent and time will be announced later.