Adom Jacko dunks the ball in Chaffey’s home game against San Diego City College on March 1. Photo by Michelle Menes.
The teams looked like mirror images of each other. Both teams used four guards that spread the floor and love to shoot threes. These teams were so similar, in fact, that in the two previous meetings between them this season, the point differential was only three.
The no. 4-seed Chaffey Panthers played the second game of the basketball double header at the Sports Arena on March 1 against the no. 13-seed San Diego City College Knights. It was the 2nd round regional match-up and the first playoff game for the Panthers.
The Hustlin’ Panthers won the game by a score of 80-76, and the game was even closer than the four-point victory shows.
The difference between the seemingly identical teams? “They don’t have an Adom Jacko,” point guard Julian Nichols said.
What a huge difference. The 6′ 8″ sophomore from Alta Loma had a monster game. Jacko missed two shots all night. He went 9-10 from the field and 3-4 from the free throw line for a total of 21 points.
Jacko said he didn’t even notice how good of a night he was having, he just knew he had a mismatch.
“When I know someone can’t guard me, I like to go at ’em,” he said.
Jacko went at the Knights from the get-go, drawing a flagrant foul in the first minute that got the crowd in a frenzy and set the tone for a chippy game.
Foul trouble early on caused the Panthers to look to their bench for unlikely contributions that were just as important as Jacko’s.
Sampson’s foul trouble might have been the most troubling for Coach
Jeff Klein. Sampson started off hot, matching SDCC’s 3-point
shooting with a pair of his own and 13 points for the game that was
second only to Jacko.
Guards Chris Fowler and Breejae Flonnoy kept Chaffey in the game while Julian Nichols, Devyn Sampson, and Cassie Hough had to sit because of foul trouble.
Flowler got easy baskets for himself as well as Jacko and caused havoc on defense. Flonnoy hit two huge threes going into half-time, one from NBA range.
Godfrey Freeman might have logged the most important minutes of the game, when Jacko got his fourth foul with eight minutes left in the game, with the score 62-60 in Chaffey’s favor.
Freeman proceeded to take over the game as if a second Jacko had just checked in.
“He works so hard. We guard each other in practice and every day we’re close to getting into a scuffle but at the end of the day we’re family and it makes us stronger,” Jacko said of Freeman.
Freeman went 3-3 and had two free throws for 8 points and four hard fought rebounds in the 6 minutes Jacko was off the floor.
The mixed effort of Chaffey’s bench did not go unnoticed by their brothers who often get more of the spotlight.
“Those guys won us the game,” Nichols said as Jacko nodded in agreement.
When Jacko checked back in the game with about two and a half minutes left, the opportunity for SDCC to take control of the game had passed.
On the very first possession, Jacko slammed the door on the game with a ferocious slam dunk off of a lob from Nichols. Nichols jogged back down the court and stared down the visiting crowd as they sat and watched something they didn’t have, an Adom Jacko.
Next up for the Panthers is No.12-seed Pasadena City College, on Wednesday, March 5 in the Chaffey Sports Arena. Follow the live stream at www.thebreezeonline.com/live. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.