Jones Comes Alive For Red Raiders On Saturday
Demarri Jones appears to be rounding into basketball shape.
That’s a scary thought for Jamestown opponents.
The senior forward scored 12 points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out three assists and had two steals to highlight the Red Raiders’ 63-51 Erie County Interscholastic Conference Division 1 victory over rival Lancaster on Saturday afternoon at McElrath Gymnasium.
And it was his inspired play in the third quarter that broke open a tight game, rewarding Jamestown (5-1, 4-0) with its third division win of the week and a seat alone atop the standings.
“He was a man among boys a lot of times,” Red Raiders’ coach Ben Drake said.
Jones needed to be.
Leading only 27-25 at intermission, the Red Raiders were seeking to regain some momentum after seeing a 10-point lead evaporate in the final two minutes of the second quarter.
They did precisely that.
All told, the hosts shot 10 of 12 in the period and outscored the Legends, 23-11, and Jones’ figurative fingerprints were all over the rally. In addition to his 8 points, the reigning ECIC Division 1 Player of the Year, also had two nifty dimes to teammates for layups and was a force on the boards.
“I knew it was going to take a little bit of time when you’re away from each other and not working together for almost a year to get in shape,” Drake said.
“Demarri is going to continue to get better as the season goes on,” Drake added.
Lancaster coach John Otto said his intent entering the second half was to increase the tempo, “which we didn’t do a very good job at.”
“They were running really good sets and killing us in the paint,” he said. “We were about a second late every single reaction we made. If they didn’t get a shot off of it, they got a rebound off of it. A lot of second-chance points, so that’s basically what killed us in the third quarter.”
Jones wasn’t the only Red Raider to impress, though.
Senior Simeon Leeper scored a game-high 18 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists; sophomore Trey Drake had 15 points; senior Elijah Rojas added 9 points and three assists; and junior Jaylen Butera chipped in with 7 points and seven boards.
It’s just the kind of balance that helped Jamestown knock off Williamsville North and Clarence earlier last week and puts itself squarely among the top teams in Section VI Class AA.
“That’s really what we need to do every night, find the open man, knock down some open shots and get the ball inside,” Coach Drake said. “I thought we did that pretty effectively.”
Four players scored in double figures for the Legends (3-1, 2-1), led by senior Jason Mansell’s 12 points. Junior Joe Harrington had 11, and freshman Channing Francis and senior Dominic Fulcinitti both had 10. Senior Ryan Merz added 8.
It was Merz’s back-to-back 3-pointers and Francis’ layup to end the first half that got Lancaster to within 27-25 at halftime, but any momentum the Legends had quickly evaporated in the third quarter.
“We knew if we kept having that defensive effort the whole second half and eliminated the defensive breakdowns, we’d be OK,” Coach Drake said.
Jamestown returns to action Monday when it travels to West Seneca West. Lancaster will entertain Clarence.
The Raiders and Legends renew their rivalry on March 8 at Lancaster.
“I think there’s no question I would say that it’s the best (ECIC Division 1) rivalry,” Otto said. “When we started improving our program years ago, one of things I referenced was I would love to be in the same talks with Jamestown being in the top of the ECIC every year. Ben does an outstanding job. Hopefully we’re trending that way, although it didn’t look like it too much today. It’s early in the year, in a crazy year, so you never know.”
Francis 3 3 10, Fulcinitti 3 4 10, Jandzinski 0 0 0, Kimble 0 0 0, Jerebko 0 0 0, Mansell 5 0 12, Merz 2 2 8, Harrington 4 2 11. Totals 17 11 51.
Rojas 3 1 9, Drake 5 2 15, Leeper 8 0 18, Butera 3 1 7, Jones 5 2 12, Farmer 1 0 2, Maple 0 0 0. Totals 25 6 63.
3-point goals–Francis, Mansell 2, Merz 2, Harrington, Rojas 2, Drake 3, Leeper 2.
Lancaster 11 14 11 15 — 51
Jamestown 14 13 23 13 — 63