Elijah Jackson could have sulked when Buckeye Valley boys basketball coach Andy Gast pulled him out of the starting lineup before the Bishop Watterson game Jan. 9.
But, Jackson stayed positive and it paid off.
He had 11 points, seven steals, five assists and a key three-pointer to help the Barons to a 72-53 win over Galion in MOAC action Tuesday night in Delaware.
“My parents encouraged me all the way through,” Jackson said. “They said, ‘Rely on God and do what you have to do. When you get out there, just play as hard as you can.’ So, that’s what I did.”
Gast made the move to switch the lineup because he was concerned with how the team was starting games.
“We talked to Elijah about that and him being a senior and him being a captain for us,” Gast said. “His leadership really showed through because he didn’t complain.
“He’s come long way … his maturity has come a long way and that’s why they voted him as captain this year. I’m really proud of him – he played a great game tonight and really sparked our team.”
Jackson was one of five to score in double figures for BV. Clark Newland, Dylan Herbert and Austin Richard each led with 15 points and Luke Lucas added 11. Herbert had five assists and Lucas pulled down five rebounds.
“Our coaches encourage us,” Jackson said. “No matter who is starting or any of that. Every day in practice it’s work as hard as you can. We had a workout before the game just to boost our energy. Coach Gast does an amazing job.”
Gage Lackey gave Galion its only lead of the game at 23-22 with a free throw midway through the second quarter.
But, it was short-lived. Newland rebounded a Herbert miss inside and kicked out to Jackson on the left wing for three to give the Barons (3-9, 2-4) a 25-23 lead with 4:31 left. Newland finished with 12 rebounds and four assists.
“After that, we just got the offense flowing,” Jackson said. “We got guys the ball who we knew could score … that’s really just the main focus. You don’t really care who scores.”
It started a 9-0 run that gave BV control of the game for good on its way to a 36-30 lead at the break.
The Barons used a balanced attack on a 15-2 run that blew it open in the second half.
“I thought we made some adjustments at halftime – I talked to the kids about getting some stops because that’s how you win games,” Gast said. “We try to keep teams around that 50-point range. We haven’t been able to do it this year, but we were able to do it tonight and obviously you saw the result.”
Nathan Eckert’s three-pointer capped an 8-0 run for the Tigers midway through the fourth that cut the deficit to 61-51.
But, Lucas buried a three from the left corner off a Jackson assist to start an 11-2 run to close out the game for the Barons.
Lackey led a balanced Galion attack with 12 points. Jack McElligott finished with 11 points and Eckert and Isaiah Alsip each chipped in 10 apiece for the Tigers (4-7, 2-5).
BV continues its league slate at River Valley Thursday night at 7:30 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contract him at email@example.com.