The Jackson boys basketball team kept mounting comebacks Thursday night in their game against visiting Webster Groves.
However, the Indians never hit the big shot to get them over the hump in a 50-46 loss to the Statesmen.
"We just have to know when we get to that point when the game is on the line, stay composed and make a good play," said Jackson coach Darrin Scott, who saw his team fall to 4-4. "I think we're getting closer to doing that. We just have to keep working at it. We have a lot of guys who haven't been in those positions at varsity level, making a play in that situation, so I think once we do that's going to be big for us."
Jackson had a chance to make that big-time play in the final seconds.
The Indians trailed 48-46 with the Statesmen's Kielan Jones at the charity stripe.
Jones missed both free throws, allowing Jackson the rebound and a timeout with 4.1 seconds remaining.
Jackson threw a pass the length of the court into heavy coverage that was picked off by Webster Groves to seal the game.
"In those situations, hindsight is always 20-20," Scott said. "We wanted to get the ball to Karson [King] and let him make a play. He had time. He had four seconds so he could have taken a dribble. ... Webster Groves made a good play, they broke on the ball and got there before we did. If Karson comes up with that or we get it to him, I like our chances because Brandon [Lueders] was wide open, unguarded, because two guys had collapsed on Karson."
Jackson fought hard to get to that point.
The Indians led 20-17 in the second quarter before Webster Groves closed the half with a 9-0 run for a 28-20 lead.
The Indians managed to tie the game at 32-32 on a free throw by Blake Reynolds with 50 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Indians again lost their grip.
The Statesmen's Nick Delgado converted a traditional three-point play, then teammate Jamal Hinton stole a pass on the Indians' next possession for a layup and a 37-32 lead heading into the fourth.
"In the third quarter we fought back and tied it up, and then we had two plays back-to-back," Scott said. "We give up an and-one and then a basket, and they make a 5-0 run to end the third quarter."
Turnovers plagued the Indians all night, especially in the first half.
It is an area of concern for a young Jackson team.
"I thought tonight, in the second half, we made strides," Scott said. "I'd have to look at the turnovers. We're doing better things taking care of the ball, we just have to keep getting better. That's all it comes down to."
The Indians fell behind 46-40 with just over three minutes remaining.
Webster Groves managed to find easy buckets under the basket with constant penetration.
"They do a dribble drive, they try to spread you out and penetrate and they have some quickness," Scott said. "[Sam Craig] can shoot it well -- the first half we lost him once. I thought we did a much better job finding him in the second half.
"I thought in the second half our bigs did a much better job rotating down, helping the helper, and getting some steals on the bounce passes. Against a team like that when they penetrate, if you can get a few deflections, that really takes away their aggressiveness, and I thought when we went to the 1-3-1 [zone] that helped."
Jackson cut the deficit to 46-42 on a basket by Reynolds, and King then hit a jumper after a Webster Groves free-throw to make it 47-44. Delgado added a free throw to gain a 48-44 advantage before King answered with a basket to set up the final sequence.
King led the Indians with 13 points.
WEBSTER GROVES (50) -- Alex Sloresca 8, Killan Jones 2, Cameron Hilton 2, Nick Delgado 5, Leland Bradford 7, Michael Gueve 4, Sam Craig 16, Jamal Hinton 6. FG 18, FT 13-19, F 15. (3-pointers: Craig 2. Fouled out: None)
JACKSON (46) -- Braxton McDowell 7, Josh Friess 3, Braden Wendel 2, Skyler Steele 5, Karson King 13, Blake Reynolds 6, Brandon Lueders 4, Connor Shepard 2, Luke Stevens 4. FG 16, FT 11-16, F 15. (3-pointers: McDowell 1. Fouled out: None)
JV -- Webster Groves won 68-38.