With crowd support, Eagles fall short

Varsity boys basketball loses senior night game to Payton


Michael Brandt '17

The seniors (left to right: Jordan Martin ’17, Dylan Keefe ’17, Mike Cleland ’17. Bryson Phillips ’17, John Malone ’17, and Jaymes White ’17) prepare for a packed home game with many students in attendance.

Throughout their season, the seniors of the varsity basketball team wanted one thing: a crowd to support them. In their senior night game, the team’s wishes came true, but they let the crowd down. The boys lost to Walter Payton 59-66 in front of the largest crowd they had seen all season.

“It was awesome. There were probably 900 to 1,000 people in attendance. At the end of the day, we played for the crowd instead of playing our game,” said  Mike Cleland ‘17, a member of the team.

The energy in the gym was palpable through the entire game. The crowd cheered at every made shot and booed at every poor call. The team seemed to be feeding off their energy, running faster, jumping higher, going after every loose ball. In the end though, their excitement proved futile.

“We had beat Payton previously and they came to win,” said Cleland. “We came to show off [to] our friends.”

Cleland’s opinion is shared by others on the team. A night that was supposed to epitomize where the seniors have taken the program ended in a loss that threatened to tear them apart. The loss has many of the seniors reflecting on their time at Jones and where they have to go from here.

“Now that senior night has passed, I just want to get out of this program,” said Bryson Phillips ‘17, a four year varsity player.

However, Jordan Martin ‘17 had a more optimistic view of the rest of their season.

“Since senior night has passed, my focus is on winning the rest of our games and moving forward to state playoffs,” said Martin.

Though the boys still have several games left, including the playoffs, their future is muddy. The seniors’ time is coming to a close and a transition period is approaching.

“The juniors are being groomed in practice, summer league games, and shootouts,” said head coach Frank Griseto. “I just hope they are ready once their number is called.”

The team has one last regular season game to get in their groove before heading to state playoffs. What remains to be seen is whether the court chemistry that has come and go all season will come back for good.