JOHNSTON CITY — Anna-Jonesboro coach Mike Chamness was a senior in high school the last time the Wildcats won a regional championship in boys basketball in 2004.
That all changed Friday night, but the Wildcats had their hands full with a tough Chester squad in the finale of the Johnston City Class 2A Regional.
Anna-Jonesboro erased a five-point deficit and held the Yellow Jackets scoreless over the final 2:40 to earn the regional crown, 54-51.
The Wildcats led by one point after three quarters, but Chester took the lead and held it until there was 1:15 left on the clock. That’s when Jake Parr buried a 3-pointer to give Anna-Jonesboro the advantage.
“They were a really well-coached team, and they had two big guys that we knew were going to be a handful, and we knew it would be a battle,” Parr said. “But this is just great, and I think our experience down the stretch being in a lot of close games really helped us.”
Parr led all scorers with 25 points. The Yellow Jackets held him without a point until there were just 25 seconds left in the first quarter. But like most games, Parr took over after that.
“I was a little nervous at the beginning, and I had to get back in to it,” Parr said. “This feels amazing because we hadn’t won one in a long time.”
Chester used a 7-0 run in the fourth quarter to take a 49-44 lead with 4:35 to play. Keith Kiner and Jake Haberberger, both of whom had great games, did all of the damage during that streak.
But Jacob Zimmerman buried a huge 3-pointer from the top of the key, which ended a four and a half minute scoring slump for the Wildcats. That turned the tide in the ball game.
“That three kind of got the lid off the bucket,” said Chamness. “We just weren’t making any shots before Zimmerman hit the three. I thought the key tonight was how we rebounded, especially in the second half. We pretty much limited them to one shot. Those defensive stops were big. I’m just so proud of our guys.”
Although Parr was the key to the Anna-Jonesboro win, senior forward Logan Sawyer had a nice game as well. Sawyer hit some clutch shots and racked up 14 points.
“He was unbelievable, and we talked yesterday about being strong and physical, and I don’t know that he missed a shot from the floor,” Chamness said of Sawyer. “I thought he was strong with everything he took to the rim. He was good defensively, too. I know Kiner had a big game, but Logan took a charge down there that was a big call. He came to play.”
Brad Norman’s Yellow Jackets played a really good ball game. But some missed free throws and a rough time in the final two-plus minutes ended up hurting Chester.
Kiner delivered 23 points, and Jake Haberberger contributed 17 points for the Yellow Jackets, who tied a school record for wins with 22.
Anna-Jonesboro improved to a school record 23-8 and takes on Trenton Wesclin, which hosts the sectional on Tuesday at 7 p.m.