Remaining undefeated to draw closer to claiming the District 20-1A title, Meridian Yellowjackets sting second place Covington coming off big win over Walnut Springs last week
Making the turn into the second round of District 20-1A competition, the Meridian Yellowjacket boys basketball team took two more steps toward a district championship by extending its winning streak to seven straight games. The Jackets ran past Walnut Springs, 55-29, at home last Tuesday before posting a convincing victory over second place Covington, 52-34, to strengthen their hold of first place.
“Covington is a really good and well-coached team, so we are very happy to have picked up a win at their place,” Meridian head coach Grant Schur said. “I thought we played really well. There are still some things that we need to work on and fix, but that will always be the case. We played with an intensity I really haven’t seen from us in a while.”
After the week with the convincing win over Covington, the Jackets (8-0 in district, 17-7 overall) will play host to the Kopperl Eagles (0-7, 3-18) Thursday at 7:15 p.m. in a game postponed from Tuesday due to the icy winter weather event across North and Central Texas. Then after an open date in the schedule on Friday, Meridian will resume the stretch run through the district schedule on the road against the Iredell Dragons (3-6, 6-15) at 7:15 p.m. Feb. 7 aiming to clinch the district title.
Against Covington (6-2, 18-7), the Jackets built a commanding 26-14 lead by halftime and never looked back, outscoring the Owls in all four periods. Sophomore Jordon Sheffer led Meridian with 13 points and four steals, followed by senior Camron Sheffer with 10 points, eight rebounds and five blocks. Senior Brady Taylor added eight points and five rebounds, sophomore Matty Jones tossed in eight points and dished out five assists, while senior John Bernal pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds and grabbed six steals along with scoring six points.
“We jumped out to an 11-0 lead, and did a good job of maintaining our momentum the remainder of the game,” Schur said. “I’m just really proud of our guys, this was a big win for us and gets us one step closer to reaching one of our goals.
In opening the second round of district with a dominating victory over Walnut Springs (4-4, 12-9), 10 different players scored points for the Jackets. Jordon Sheffer led Meridian with 12 points, followed by Camron Sheffer with eight points and a game-high nine rebounds.
“It was a district win, and at this point in the season, you have to be happy about that,” Schur said. “It was one of those days for us, everything just kind of felt off all day. Before the game was the same, and then during the game, we just never got into a rhythm. We were pretty banged up and short-handed with our normal guys, but we managed to get the win.
“I want to give Coach (Lonnie) Flippen and those kids at Walnut Springs a lot of praise. They are really beat up right now. But those kids just keep fighting, and they play really hard. They could’ve very easily just quit playing last night, but they never did. Even at the very end, they were still fighting for loose balls and playing hard. They have a lot to be proud of over there.”
Taylor added seven points and pulled down five rebounds, senior Dustan Bowers tossed in six points, junior Brayden Wehmeyer scored six points and Bernal contributed five points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals, while senior Junior Rodriguez led the Jackets with four assists.
“On the upside of that, we got to see some guys get more minutes than normal, and I saw some really good things out of those guys,” Schur said. “I saw some things we need to work on also, but I am pretty pleased with how those guys played and obviously getting a win.
“We need to regroup this week, focus on some foundation things that we do, and keep plugging away trying to get better,” Schur said. “It’s that time of year it gets to really be a grind, you’ve already played everyone once, the season is starting to get a little long. So, we have to push through the grind and stay focused on what is at hand now.”
Leaving no doubt on the court, the Jackets remained undefeated in District 20-1A as they made the turn into the second round of competition. And the Jackets did so by living up to expectation in a much-anticipated showdown. Producing a total team effort, Meridian overcame early injuries to key players to surge past the Morgan Eagles, 48-40, Jan. 20 to stake its undisputed claim to sole possession of first place.
“We are extremely happy to have finished the first round of district undefeated, but we have a long way to go,” Schur said. “Obviously, the win against Morgan was huge, especially after playing the majority of that game with two of our better scorers and defenders out with injuries. I am really proud of the way our guys stepped up and found a way to win shorthanded and in a wild environment.”
Against Morgan (4-4, 12-6), the Jackets enjoyed a 27-19 advantage at halftime, but the Eagles battled back to make it a four-point game going into the final period. Meridian rebuilt its lead down the stretch before holding on for the eight-point win.
Jones led the Jackets with 12 points while offering three assists and coming up with four steals, followed by Camron Sheffer with 10 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks as well as Bernal with 10 points, 10 rebounds and six steals. Rodriguez contributed three assists and three steals, while Taylor tossed in five points and grabbed four steals.
After crushing the Iredell Dragons, 74-22, at home Jan. 13, the Jackets knocked off the Blum Bobcats, 61-50, to set up the showdown with Morgan. Although the Jackets jumped out to an early 15-9 first quarter lead, Blum came clawing back with a 23-point second period to make it a one-point game at halftime.
“I am just happy to have gotten out of that game with a win,” Schur said. “Blum is probably the best four-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.”
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 Bernal with 11 points and five steals. Jordan Sheffer contributed 10 points, six rebounds, four assists and a game-high 10 steals, Camron Sheffer added 10 points, eight rebounds and a game high 10 blocks, as well as Jones with 10 points, nine rebounds and five steals.
“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.”
Photos by WENDY OROZCO
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