PICKERING – After an upset in round one of the playoffs, Pickering needed to hit on all cylinders to move on to the quarterfinals.
However, No. 6 Madison would not be knocked off, defeating the No. 22 Red Devils 79-59 Tuesday night at Pickering High School.
“I didn’t think anybody expected us to be here,” Pickering head coach Brandon Jordan said. “We had to drive up to Winnfield and beat them at the buzzer to even get here. In the first half, we were right there with them. Our problem tonight was our offense, because we turned the ball over a lot.”
The Jaguar press and half-court defense was smothering, leading to a lot of Pickering turnovers.
“I blanketed the northern part of the state before I got film, and the first guy I spoke to told me that they play tough D and rely on their man-to-man offense,” Jordan said. “They relied on turnovers and are very athletic. They are deep, too.”
Madison led 28-16 midway through the second quarter, but Pickering went on a 12-0 run to tie it up with 55 seconds left in the half.
“I told them that the number beside your name doesn’t mean anything,” Jordan said. “If we don’t lose at the buzzer to Fairview and Hornbeck and don’t lose in overtime to Grand Lake, we are probably a No. 10 seed. We are battle tested. This was game 33 of the season, and we haven’t played any cupcakes.”
In the third quarter, Madison’s defense led to easy buckets on the other end as it built its lead up to 60-47 at the end of the period.
“When we were down in the second, DeShawn (Jackson) got a steal and laid it up,” Jordan said. “That sparked us. In the third, we tried to do some of that stuff but it wasn’t there. When they made a run on us, we didn’t have enough gas in the tank to match their energy level. We wanted to, and the will was there.”
The Jaguars kept their pressure up, outscoring Pickering 19-12 in the final quarter to seal the win.
DeShawn Jackson led Pickering with 19 points, and Jordan Ellis added 15 in his final game as a Red Devil.
Pickering will lose four seniors to graduation – Ellis, Xavier Evans, Greg Jones and Malik Duhe.
“I loved coaching Jordan,” Jordan said. “He’s been a model player since he got here. He’s very positive, and he always stuck up for me. I kept trying to find a place to use Malik for him to succeed, but the last couple of games, I couldn’t find a spot. Greg is a terrific athlete. He can play guard and not-guard. He’s not too tall, but he can run and jump. Xavier Evans came here as a 5-foot-2 freshman. I knew he was a smart kid by talking to him when he was 14. He’s turned himself into a player. I love kids like that.”