Niagara Gazette — YOUNGSTOWN — Lewiston-Porter boys basketball trailed by seven with the clock ticking away when the home gym fell silent Friday night.
The Lancers’ top scorer, Craig Paige, had been silent, too, with just three points since starting the game with a monster first half.
That’s when Jernard Jackson played the loudest.
The soft-spoken sophomore guard sank four straight free-throws and scored eight of Lew-Port’s final nine points as the fourth-seeded Lancers defeated visiting No. 5 East Aurora, 60-55, in a Section VI Class A-2 quarterfinal matchup.
The Lancers will play in the sectional semifinals at Buffalo State one year after making it there for the first time in school history.
“Jernard is ... one of the most clutch players I’ve ever played with,” Paige said, glowing about his teammate’s step-up performance. “And to be so young. In the second half he stepped up when I kind of cooled off a bit. He kept this team going.”
Paige finished with a game-high 27 points, but he struggled into the fourth quarter after a 19-point first half.
But that’s when Jackson was at his best, scoring 13 of his 15 points in the second half after East Aurora’s man defense hushed the hot hand of Lew-Port’s leading scorer.
“When the game is on the line, that’s the kid who I want to have the ball in his hands,” Lew-Port coach Matt Bradshaw said. “He went to the line and sank four free-throws in a row when the pressure was on. You can’t count him out. He’ll be there until the end.”
Lew-Port (12-7) got off to a quick start, thanks in large part to Paige’s sharp shooting, and took a 29-23 lead into the half. But the Blue Devils (9-10) answered, outscoring the Lancers 22-11 in a dominant third quarter.