NEJ basketball

Tyquan Jasper drives to the basket for a score as Northeast Lauderdale’s Ricky Hinton defends him. (Photo by Mark Thornton)

Big rally falls just short; Tigers top win total of last 4 seasons combined

Northeast Jones had fallen behind by 14 in the fourth quarter, then leading scorer Javier Magee fell, too.

That’s when Tyquan Jasper took the torch and almost led the Tigers to a dramatic come-from-behind victory over region heavyweight Northeast Lauderdale on Friday night.

Jasper scored 16 of his game-high 26 points in the final period as NEJ lost, 81-78.

“He just took over,” NEJ coach Jay Stafford said. “Everybody stepped up and kept battling.”

The Trojans (16-4, 6-1 region) carried a nine-point lead into the half and into the fourth quarter, then built that advantage to 14 before Magee, NEJ’s point guard, fell to the floor. He turned an ankle and had to be helped to the bench after scoring 23 points in the first three quarters for the Tigers (12-11, 3-3).

That’s when Stafford gave the keys to the offense to Jasper. And the senior drove it hard and fast. He scored on three consecutive drives to the basket, including a three-point play to cut the lead back to single digits. 

Jaylon Hudson hit a 3-pointer — his only points of the game — to cut the Trojans’ lead to three, 74-71, with 1:15 remaining. But then the Tigers were forced to start fouling and the visitors made their free throws down the stretch to keep them just out of reach.

Jay Jones had a couple of big baskets to keep NEJ in it. He finished with 14 points, 12 of which came in the second half.

“You don’t want to lose, but I’m proud of the effort,” Stafford said. “They gave me everything they had.”

The Tigers are in third place in the region, with matchups at Mendenhall (6-14, 3-4) tonight (Tuesday) and at region leader Quitman (19-5, 7-0) on Friday. 

In Stafford’s second season, with four games remaining on the schedule, they have surpassed the win total of the last four seasons combined (10). The Tigers haven’t had a winning season since going 11-8 in the 2006-07 campaign.

“That’s a dang good team over there,” Stafford said of NEL. “We may see them again in the division tournament. We’ve just got to keep working.”

Akiva Burton led the Trojans with 21, Dennis Heidelberg had 19, Ricky Hinton 15 and Christian Luvene 10.

(G) NE Lauderdale 70

Northeast Jones 41

The Region 5-4A-leading Lady Trojans (17-3, 7-0) won big over second-place NE Jones (8-7, 4-2) on Friday night. The team, which is led by senior Gabby Bunch (23.8 points per game), has region matchups at Mendenhall (9-11, 2-4) tonight and Quitman (5-17, 2-4) on Friday night.

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