PICKERING – With a chance for a piece of the district title for the second year in a row, Pickering was unable to get the job done in its own building.
The Red Devils had some miscues late and fell 65-61 to Vinton Tuesday night at home.
"If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that we could play one game at our house for the district championship, I would have taken it," Pickering head coach Brandon Jordan said. "I don't care who we were playing. I would have played anybody with the team and players I have. I have five really good players, and I felt like my five was better than their five."
The loss puts Pickering at 16-15 on the year and 8-2 in district play, giving it the runner-up spot in District 5.
The Red Devils led by 1 entering the fourth quarter, but Vinton quickly took the lead and 57-55 late in the fourth. An and-1 by Pickering guard DeShawn Jackson gave his team a 1-point lead late in the period.
However, Vinton went up 62-60 with a layup by Deshaun Bias.
Pickering guard Marlon Freeney cut the deficit to 1 with 14 seconds left after splitting a pair of free throws, but Vinton guard Drew Heinen extended the lead to 2 after hitting a free throw on the other end with six seconds remaining.
Pickering had a chance to tie it up but missed both free throws with four seconds to go, and Vinton escaped with the victory.
"We didn't shoot well from anywhere tonight, and specifically, free throws or 3 pointers," Jordan said. "We kept shooting 3 pointers and not giving our offense a chance to create anything. We've had trouble against zones all year. We don't shoot the ball well enough to get people to come out of zones. We excel at attacking the basket."
Jackson led Pickering with 26 points, and forward Jordan Ellis controlled the paint on the boards and by blocking shots, while adding 16 points.
"What I've loved about him since he got here is how positive he is with his teammates and how he's always taking responsibility,” Jordan said. “His attitude is my favorite thing about him. Sometimes, he gets a little overzealous when good things happen but he's a good kid at heart. He did everything I asked of him. I ask him to rebound and make shots around the basket."
With their matchup against Many canceled, the Red Devils’ regular season is over, and they will have to wait until Sunday to see their playoff fate.
"I'm going to try and keep our fundamentals sharp and keep our legs and lungs in good shape," Jordan said. "We're going to have short practices for the rest of the week, and when Sunday comes around, I'll work on getting film."