Jones’ late bucket carries Spartans past Raiders
Just when South Warren needed one big play, Tayshawn Jones was there to fulfill the duty.
With the game tied at 65-all with just over two seconds remaining, Jones dribbled towards the top of the key, drove through the middle of the lane and put up a runner that went straight through the net to seal an exhilarating 67-65 win over Warren East on Friday night at Warren East High School.
“(The coaches) told me the timeout before (the shot) that (Thomas Maxey) had four fouls and to attack him,” Jones said of his game-winning play. “I just thought I would put the ball in my hands, go behind the back and try and get to the rim.”
The two sides traded punches throughout the game and the scoreboard remained tight from start to finish. The Spartans held a tight 17-15 lead after the opening quarter and later took a 30-25 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
The Raiders used a big third quarter – one that saw them outscore South Warren 27-15 – to jump in front at 52-45, and things remained close throughout the final quarter before the Spartans (1-2, 1-0 District 14) held tough and Jones’ bucket sent the Spartans out on top with a tough District 14 road victory.
“I thought we really grew up tonight,” South Warren head coach Blane Embry said. “It was good to see the kids just really go out and play and be athletes and get it done because in the past we’ve had trouble closing games like that. I think this was a good stepping stone for us.”
While Jones finished with 13 points, Cameron Harrison – the standout running back that helped the South Warren football team capture the Class 5A state championship and finish 15-0 – scored a game-high 20 points, while Tyler Martin added 16.
“We have a great chemistry and a great relationship with everyone on the team,” said Jones. “We all work hard and work together. It’s just great all-around.”
Adante Barber led Warren East (2-2, 0-1) with 15 points, while Ryan Carter registered a 10-point outing.
The two sides exchanged baskets all throughout the opening half.
South Warren jumped out to a 15-8 lead with 2:08 remaining in the first quarter, but Warren East answered with a quick 7-2 run to trim its deficit to 17-15 at the end of one. The Raiders had scored seven straight – highlighted by a Barber bucket – to tie it at 15-all, but Harrison scored on the opposite end to give the Spartans the two-point advantage.
Back-to-back scores from Harrison pushed South Warren’s lead to 22-19 at the 5:09 mark of the second. Another bucket from the Spartans less than a minute later made it 24-19 before they ultimately took a 30-25 advantage into the locker room at the break.
Harrison was up to 10 points after 16 minutes of action, while Bryson Wallace had tallied nine for Warren East.
“He’s just a winner,” Embry said of Harrison. “He’s rusty and hadn’t played in a couple years, but he’s still a leader and he’s still a winner – and he still knows how to get to the basket. You know, Tyler was a little off tonight, but the great thing is that this year he’s got some people that can fill-in and he don’t have to worry about carrying all the scoring load.
“I think our ceiling’s really high and I’m really pleased.”
Warren East controlled the third quarter, but South Warren didn’t go away.
Back-to-back threes from Carter and Jackson Harrell to open the second half put the Raiders in front at 31-30 at the 6:53 mark of the third quarter. A free throw from Carter at the 5:26 mark evened the scoreboard at 34-all, but Jace Carver quickly scored on the other end to put the Spartans back in front at 36-34.
After Wallace drove to the rim and scored off the right glass, Barber splashed threes on two straight possessions to give the Raiders a 45-38 lead with 3:08 remaining in the period. Thomas Maxey completed an and-one shortly after to extend East’s advantage to 48-39.
Harrison’s 16th point of the contest came on a floater in the middle of the lane to bring South Warren within 50-43, but by outscoring the Spartans 27-15 in the period, Warren East held a 52-45 lead entering the final frame.
Trailing by seven with eight minutes left, South Warren wasn’t going away. Trailing 59-52 with a little over five minutes remaining, Martin knocked down a pair of free throws to bring the Spartans within five. He then scored on a jumper from the left lane on the next possession to make it 61-56 with 4:10 left.
It didn’t take Martin long to strike again, as he nailed a left-wing triple to cut Warren East’s lead to 61-59. However, the Raiders answered with a score from Maxey on the opposite end to put them up five at 63-59 with 3:02 remaining.
Harrison’s layup with 1:52 left brought South Warren to within two at 63-61, Carter made a pair of free throws to make it 65-61 with just over a minute remaining. Four straight points for the Spartans – led by a tough bucket from Harrison – knotted things at 65-all with 28.6 seconds left.
That’s when Jones stepped in and knocked down the big-time shot to seal the road victory for the Spartans.
“It feels great,” Jones said. “First district win of the season. We’ve been looking forward to that.”
Both South Warren and Warren East will be in action Saturday at the Spartan Classic at South Warren High School. The Raiders will meet Apollo at 2 p.m., while the Spartans will take on Edmonson County in the nightcap at 8 p.m.