CANTON: It’s a good thing Jackson practiced layups during pregame warm-ups.
That’s about all the Polar Bears shot during the game.
In a fast-paced game that had both teams running, Jackson handled the pace better to beat Copley, 95-76 in Monday’s Division I sectional tournament opener at Canton Civic Center. Perry beat Garfield 82-66 in the other sectional matchup.
The Polar Bears (13-7) advance to Friday’s sectional final against No. 3 seed Barberton. Copley’s season ends at 12-8.
It wasn’t that Copley played poorly compared with Jackson. The Polar Bears just had a different gear. They shot 62 percent for the game, including 20-of-31 in the second half.
“We play like that in practice,” said Jackson coach Tim Debevec of the frantic pace. “We can play like that in the game. We knew it would be a fast game but we like to get up and down.”
But try as they might, the Polar Bears could not shake the Indians for much of the game. They led 20-17 after one and 44-37 at halftime. Three straight baskets from Copley’s Kenny Paramore got the Indians within five, 48-43, to begin the third quarter, but that seemed to set off the Polar Bears.
An 11-2 Jackson run filled with ?layups stretched the lead to 14 points. The Indians went 9-of-10 from the free-throw line to keep things within reach after three, 69-60. But the Polar Bears’ David Smith hit two baskets early in the fourth for a 13-point lead. From there, Jackson handled the Copley press with ease and the lead just continued to grow.
“We had a lot of turnovers tonight,” said Debevec. “But we still won by 19. Copley played a great game, but we just took it to them tonight.”
Evan Bailey led the Polar Bears with 22 points. Kyle Mottice added 17, Miles Griffin 16 and Nick Dillon and Smith had 15 apiece.
Paramore led all scorers with 26 points. C.J. Chatman added 25 points, including 11 from the free-throw line. Alex Kormushoff had 11 for the Indians.
Perry 82, Garfield 66
Perry used a 16-2 second-quarter run to pull away and stay away from Garfield in Monday’s sectional opener. The Panthers led by as many as 16 in the first half and, except for a brief Golden Rams run that cut it to six in the third, were in control throughout.
Senior center Jordan Humphrey had nine of his 21 points during the decisive second-quarter run that stretched the Panthers’ lead from 21-18 to 36-20.
The Panthers (13-8) advance to Friday’s sectional final against top-seeded Timkin. Garfield finishes its season 8-12.
“We have a lot of guys who haven’t won a tournament game in a long time,” said Perry coach Paul Wackerly. “We just had to get through this first game. In my opinion we were a little nervous, a little up and down. We weren’t attacking. But in the fourth quarter we got our transition game going.”
Garfield senior Darius Hoisten scored eight quick points to begin the third, helping cut the Perry lead to 44-38. But the Rams had four turnovers over the next two minutes, and when Perry’s Khyler Fields hit a 3-pointer just before the third-quarter buzzer, the Panthers led 53-42.
Junior guard Jeremiah Jackson and Fields led the Panthers with 22 points apiece. Hoisten led the Rams with 24.
“We didn’t play very good defense in the second quarter,” said Garfield coach Harold Ickes. “Our defense feeds our offense. We’ve preached that all season. But the kids played hard.”
Wackerly knows it won’t get any easier from here.
“We have a few things to shore up,” said Wackerly, whose team has won six straight games. “But whether you win by 25 or 10, you always have things to shore up.”