High school basketball: Jaden Jackson, Taylor Lithgow lead Skyline past Cottonwood
MURRAY — After Skyline's Jaden Jackson scored 38 points against Cottonwood in their previous meeting, the Colts definitely remembered the Eagle sharpshooter.
Now the Colts will remember another name — Taylor Lithgow.
Jackson assisted Lithgow on two momentum-changing 3-pointers Tuesday night in leading the Eagles (6-10, 4-3) to a 59-53 road victory over the Colts (7-9, 2-5) in Region 2 basketball action.
With his team leading by five midway through the third quarter, Jackson drove past two Cottonwood defenders and hit a wide open Lithgow, who calmly drained the 3-pointer to extend the Eagles' lead to 35-27.
Lithgow wasn’t done, however.
After a quick 6-0 fourth-quarter Cottonwood run, Jackson found Lithgow for another three, which increased the Eagles' lead to 44-36.
“Taylor is one of our best shooters for sure,” said Jackson. “If I don’t have the shot, I look for him because he comes up big for us.”
Jackson finished with a game-high 22 points, while Michael Staes added 12 and Lithgow finished with nine — all on 3-pointers.
“Obviously Jaden is the creator and my role is as a second scorer,” said Lithgow. “I just try to make the most of my opportunities.”
In their previous game against West High, the Eagles were down 17 points before they could get anything going, and ended up losing by 32 points. So Wednesday, the Eagles were looking for a fast start against the Colts, but it didn't happen.
“We got down 5-0 and our kids didn’t panic,” said Skyline coach Bernie Graziano. “We stuck with the game plan, kept playing defense and kept looking for good shots.”
After being held scoreless for most of the first quarter, Jackson finally found some openings inside the Cottonwood defense by hitting a nice running layup, and his 3-pointer from the corner with one second left gave Skyline the 12-9 lead.
“Jaden is the kind of guy you want to run plays for,” said Graziano. “Of course we give him freedom too because he is a really sound player and you can see that when you watch him.”
Eagles increased their lead to five at 24-19 at the break.
The Colts trailed 41-33 heading into the final quarter, but they would not go away easily.
“There were times when we tried to pull away but couldn’t quite seem to,” said Graziano. “Give Cottonwood credit they would come down and hit a big three or make a three-point play that would keep them in the game.”
Skyline finally put the game away when Jackson scored on back-to-back possessions making the score 47-36 with 4:17 left in the game.
“We knew this was an important game,” said Graziano. “The kids knew it, and we needed to come in here and get the ‘W’ because we’re fighting for a playoff spot.”
Region 2 will take four teams to the state tournament, and currently the Eagles are in fourth place — two games ahead of Cottonwood. Skyline, which holds the tiebreaker over Cottonwood, has the luxury of playing four of its final five region games at home.
“If we want to finish the rest of region play undefeated we all have to do our part,” said Lithgow. “We can’t afford to have very many losses from here on out if we want to be a part of the tournament.”
The Eagles return to action Friday when they host Hunter, while Cottonwood travels to Granger.