WEST FRANKFORT — After a rough start, the Anna-Jonesboro boys basketball team played a great second half on its way to a 62-45 win over Christopher Friday at the West Frankfort Mid-Winter Classic.
The Wildcats led by just six points at halftime, but used a 10-0 run to end the third quarter, which expanded their lead to 18 points.
“I’m super happy with the effort,” said Anna-Jonesboro coach Mike Chamness. “The one thing we talked about the last couple of days was getting off to a better start. But we were down 10-2, so we didn’t do that very well. But we responded to that really well. I was very pleased offensively because the last two times out we’d been stagnant. Our defense kind of led to offense, which really helped us tonight. And I thought our bench won us this game.”
Jared Curry buried a 3-pointer to pull Christopher within 38-33 with 3:25 left in the third period. But the Wildcats dominated the rest of the quarter and finished it on a 15-2 run.
Jake Parr scored the first five points of the run, and five different Wildcats made baskets to end the quarter.
Noah Smith sank a shot from beyond the arc to open the fourth period, and the Anna-Jonesboro lead ballooned to 21 points.
“We played a good first quarter, but we didn’t come out after halftime,” said Christopher coach Eric Stallman. “I guess our guys didn’t know there was another half to play. We really got no production out of any of our players tonight. They did not want to be here, and I have no idea why. They had no desire to compete.”
Curry and Gage Hawkins paced Christopher with 12 points apiece, and Young added 10. However, both Curry and Young are capable of scoring quite a bit more than that. Chamness was happy with his team’s defensive effort, particularly on Christopher’s best players.
“Both of those guys are such a matchup problem, especially Curry because he handles the ball,” Chamness said. “Young is one of the better athletes in Southern Illinois. I was worried about that, and we ended up having to play more zone. I’m happy with how we did on those two guys.”
The Bearcats came out of the gates strong and jumped out to a quick 10-2 advantage. Anna-Jonesboro responded with a 12-0 streak. Parr racked up 10 of those 12 points and finished with a game-high 21.
“What a special player Jake Parr is,” Chamness said. “Guys like him don’t come around a lot. When you have a player like him you’ve got to enjoy it. He works his tail off. He’s going to get his, and that was a pretty quiet 21. We have other guys that are starting to play off of him. If that continues, we can be pretty good.”
Noah McFarland added 11 points for the Wildcats, who improved to 2-0 in the tournament. Anna-Jonesboro takes on undefeated Eldorado at 11:30 a.m. today. The winner moves on to the 8 p.m. championship game against Cairo. Christopher (0-2) plays West Frankfort at 1 p.m.