in Boys Basketball

In wrapping up the first round of District 20-1A competition, Meridian Yellowjackets put undefeated record on the line in showdown at Morgan Friday

Riding a four-game winning streak, the Meridian Yellowjacket boys basketball team headed into the final week of the first round in District 20-1A competition continuing to build momentum. After using an open date in the schedule last Tuesday to work on some things, the Jackets won back-to-back games to set up a classic showdown for first place

After crushing the Iredell Dragons, 74-22, at home last Friday night, the Jackets (5-0 in district, 14-7 overall) knocked off the Blum Bobcats, 61-50, to remain undefeated and maintain sole possession of the district’s top spot.

“I am just happy to have gotten out of that game with a win,” Meridian boys basketball first-year head coach Grant Schur said. “Blum is probably the best three-win team I have seen. Their kids play hard and are very physical. Our bench players stepped up huge last night and had to play a lot of minutes because of foul trouble. We pride ourselves on the depth that we have, and it really showed last night.”

Although the Jackets jumped out to an early 15-9 first quarter lead, Blum (1-4, 3-7) came clawing back with a 23-point second period to make it a one-point game at halftime.

“There were plenty of opportunities last night for us to fold, and we never did,” Schur said. “I told them at halftime I was calm because I was confident in them, and I knew that we were going to be alright and get the win. We did some uncharacteristic things last night, and some of that had to do with what Blum was doing to us, but some of it was just on us.”

Coming out of the locker room, the Meridian defense shut down the Bobcats in the third period to rebuild its lead before the Jackets put Blum away in the fourth. Five Meridian players scored in double figures, led by senior Braxton Allen with 12 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, followed by senior John Bernal with 11 points and five steals, sophomore Jordan Sheffer 10 points, six rebounds, four assists and a game-high 10 steals, senior Camron Sheffer 10 points, eight rebounds and a game high 10 blocks, as well as sophomore Matty Jones 10 points, nine rebounds and five steals

“I am very proud of the way we battled through it and got another district win. We’ve talked in the past about how sometimes you just have to find a way to win, and we did that last night. Hopefully, we can keep things rolling on Friday in Morgan and finish out the first half of district the right way.”

Jumping out to a commanding 23-0 lead against Iredell, the Jackets built a 43-10 advantage by halftime and never looked back. Allen led Meridian with 18 points, followed by Bernal with 11 and Jordan Sheffer with 10, while Camron Sheffer and senior Brady Taylor added eight points each against the Dragons.

“Obviously, we are very pleased with how we played against Iredell,” Schur said. “We really wanted to have a fast start and take control immediately. Our kids did a great job of responding to that challenge.”

On the boards, Camron Sheffer dominated with a team-high nine rebounds, followed by Taylor with six and Allen with five. Jordan Sheffer dished out a team-high four assists and collected eight steals, Jones offered three assists, while Bernal grabbed six steals.

 “The week was a roller coaster as far as practice goes,” Schur said. “We had one of our best practices and a couple of our worst practices, so I really didn’t know what to expect from them going into the game.

“Coach Gallagher is doing some really good things at Iredell. Their kids played hard, and they are doing things right. We got to work on a lot of things Friday night offensively and defensively, so I think we got a lot better from it.”

To wrap up the first round of district play, Meridian travel to Morgan to take on the Eagles (4-1, 12-3) at 7:15 p.m. Friday. Last week in district, the Covington Owls (5-1, 17-6) knocked off Morgan, 42-36, to move into a second-place tie with the Eagles behind Meridian. The Walnut Springs Hornets (2-3, 10-8) currently stand in fourth place, followed by Blum, Iredell (1-4, 5-13) and Kopperl (0-5, 3-16).

“As far as Morgan goes, I think they are obviously very well coached, very talented, and they are going to play really hard,” Schur said. “From everything I’ve heard and been told, I know Friday is going to be a big game that is being hyped up from outside the locker room.

 “For us, we try to treat each game the same way. We will prepare for Morgan the same way we did for Kopperl, Iredell, Walnut, Covington, Blum and every other opponent we have played this year. That is something we have really tried to harp on with our guys this year – treat everyone the same and don’t ever overlook someone.

“All of that being said, I do think it will be an exciting game with a wild atmosphere. I know that it is a pretty small gym, and I expect a really good crowd for it. So, I think it will be a pretty exciting environment.”


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