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Brandon Scott scored 22 points — including three 3-pointers in a crucial two-minute stretch of the second half — and Paris Junior College held off Jacksonville, 68-65, on Wednesday at the Hunt Center.
The 6-foot freshman from Richardson made 6-of-6 free throws in the first half and added 16 points in the second half on 6-of-9 shooting.
A second-team guard, Scott had been in what head coach Chuck Taylor called a funk for much of the season.
“Tonight, he played like he’s capable of playing. I’m really happy to see Brandon have this game. We need him,” Taylor said.
Paris, winning its third game in five days, improved to 11-4 overall and 4-1 in conference. Jacksonville fell to 6-10 for the season and 1-5 in league play.
Raheem Watts led Jacksonville with 12 points, followed by Derrick Modest with 11 points.
Nouhoum “Nom” Bocoum, a 6-9 sophomore from New York City, struggled in the first half for Paris, but dominated inside during the second half, scoring down when he contributed nine of his 12 points.
Between them, Scott and Bocoum scored 25 of the Dragons’ 33 points in the second half, after going a combined 1-of-4 for 2 points in the first 20 minutes.
The Dragons led 35-25 at the half behind 10 points from Delvin Dickerson and 6 points from Jovan Austin, and appeared on the verge of pulling away.
But Jacksonville needed only 2 minutes and 12 seconds to knot the game at 35-all on a 10-0 run, and the Jaguars took a 39-38 lead with 15:01 to play. That proved to be Jacksonville’s only lead of the game.
To Paris’ good fortune, that was the point where Scott and Bocoum caught fire, manufacturing a 9-2 run for a 43-39 lead.
Jacksonville used the long ball to stay close the rest of the way. The Jaguars made 7-of-10 three-pointers in the closing 20 minutes from six different players — Watts was 2-of-3, Tevin Jackson 1-of-1, Milachi Christopher 1-of-2, Rashard Todd 1-of-1, Aaron Bryant 1-of-2, and Modest 1-of-2.
Scott’s third 3-pointer gave Paris a 65-60 lead with 2:58 remaining, and Jovan Austin drove the lane for a basket. But Modest scored inside with 2:40 to play and hit a 3-pointer from the left wing, leaving Paris with just a 67-65 lead with 41 seconds to play.
Paris played keep-away, and Jacksonville fouled at 0:25, sending Dickerson to the line for two free throws. Dickerson, who had missed his only other charity shot, missed the first, but made the second to increase the Dragons’ lead to 68-65.
Jacksonville would have a last chance at a tie, but Paris’ defense was never better than in those last 25 seconds.
The Jaguars sought a game-tying 3-pointer that never came. They kept passing from player to player, looking for an opening that wasn’t there.
With one second left in the game, Jacksonville’s Anthony Sharp threw up a closely guarded off-balance 3-point attempt from the top of the circle. It wasn’t close, and Paris began celebrating a 68-65 victory.
“For most of the second half, we were bad defensively,” Taylor said. He didn’t feel his players guarded well enough against a 3-point shot.
“I told our guys at the half, if they (Jacksonville) make 12 to 14 three’s, we’re going to get beat. Jody Bailey is a really good coach, and no disrespect to his team, but I’m telling you, I watched them enough on tape, and they had to make 12 to 15 three-pointers to beat us,” Taylor said.
Jacksonville finished 10-of-18 from outside the arc, compared to 5-of-25 for Paris.
Taylor thought his players handled Angelina and Coastal Bend so well on Saturday and Monday, respectively, that they were lulled into a false sense of security with their 10-point halftime lead over Jacksonville.
“This win wasn’t perfect, but I’m not giving it back,” Taylor said. “This was good in that we had adversity, but we weathered the storm and got through it.”
Ronnie White, a 6-10 sophomore from Chicago, missed his third straight game with a sore right knee. Depending on how he looks in practice before Saturday, White could play against Lee, Taylor said.
In other Region 14 men’s games on Wednesday:
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra