Sophomore Deantre Mack scored 19 points, including three 3-pointers, as Jonesboro captured its fifth consecutive win against Mt. Zion with a 44-39 road victory Saturday.
“I’m proud of my guys even though it was ugly,” Jonesboro coach Dan Maehlman said. “A win is a win.”
Cody Simmons scored 12 points and JR Holder and Tristan White both added 11 for the Bulldogs, who were never able to recover from a slow start.
“Even though you look at our record and so forth, we still made a couple of mistakes down the stretch that showed the immaturity of our team and the maturity of the Jonesboro team,” Mt. Zion coach Maurice Triche said. “They hit their free throws and took care of the ball down the stretch.”
Even with Daniel Peace only able to watch due to a back injury and Cameron Sutton at Auburn for an official visit, the Cardinals were still able to come through in the clutch.
After Simmons sank two foul shots with 59 seconds left, Jonesboro held just a 40-39 edge. But 31 seconds later, Casey Wells nailed a pair of free throws to push the Cardinals’ lead back to three. Following a Bulldogs’ timeout, Holder, who struggled with his shot the entire game, misfired on a potentially tying 3-pointer from the corner with 17 ticks remaining.
“Anytime we play someone who is a Division-I type kid, especially if they are guards, we always preach being physical,” Maehlman said. “We put kids on them who understand that we don’t want them to catch the ball. We want them to take bad shots. We want to frustrate them as much as possible.”
Afterwards, Patrick Petty pushed his point total to nine with two shots from the stripe, sealing Jonesboro’s 13th win of the season.
“I’ve never seen a bigger team,” Maehlman said. “They’ve got some big kids. JR is a heck of a player. Coach Triche has done a good job of getting them headed in the right direction. They could put something together that people don’t expect them to do.”
Even though Holder struggled offensively, the Jacksonville commit entertained the home crowd with a 3-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer and an acrobatic reverse layup for a three-point play in the fourth quarter.
Duby Okeke had seven points, nine rebounds and four blocks.