BY NORM BETZ –
One thing is for sure, when you sit down to watch an Acorn Tigers basketball game, it’s guaranteed to be exciting. The No. 3 seed from District 7W headed to Emerson, Arkansas with the hopes of doing something that hasn’t been done at Acorn in 39 years, make it to the 1A State Tournament. It took an overtime game, but with their backs against the wall, the Tigers stepped up to defeat No. 2 seed from District 7E, Bradley. Knotted at 60-all, the Tigers were determined to win the opening round at regionals, which in turn would qualify them for the state tournament. Acorn outscored Bradley 10-6 in overtime to thrust them into the 1A State Tournament, for the first time since 1976, with a 70-66 victory.
Acorn outscored Bradley in the opening quarter 16-6. Senior Sky Jackson led the Tigers with 10 points, hitting four buckets from the field and adding two-of-two from the line. Senior Morgan Hair drained a three-pointer, while sophomore Aaron Bissell added a bucket of his own. Senior Justin Hogan rounded out the opening quarter scoring hitting one-of-two from the charity stripe.
The Tigers were outscored by the Bears in the second quarter, 24-16, but Acorn took a 32-30 lead to the locker room at halftime. Five different Tigers put their names in the score book in the second. Hair tossed in a basket and added a pair from the line, while Hogan and junior Ashton Pardun each added buckets and made two-of-three from the charity stripe. Sophomore Daniel Cottrell added a bucket, while Jackson made one from the field, but missed one from the line.
Bradley outscored Acorn for the second straight quarter, 18-13, and took a 48-45 lead at the end of the third. Pardun led the Tigers with six points, Hogan added four points, while Jackson was good for a bucket and a free throw.
With their eyes set on the goal of being the team to do something that hasn’t been done in 39 years, the Tigers outscored the Bears in the fourth quarter, 15-12, thus locking the score at 60-all as regulation time expired. Jackson led the Tigers with seven points, three buckets and one-of-four from the line. Cottrell added a pair of buckets, while Hair and Hogan each added a basket.
Jackson, once again took a leadership role in the OT, guiding the Tigers with a bucket and hitting three-of-four from the stripe. Hogan added a bucket and made one-of-two from the line, while Bissell rounded out the free basketball quarter with a bucket. Acorn outscored Bradley 10-6 in the OT to secure the coveted spot in the 1A State Championship.
Sky Jackson led all scorers with 27 points, while Bradley’s Jack Cornell finished with 26 points. Justin Hogan finished with 14 points, Ashton Pardun added 10 points, Morgan Hair finished with nine points, Daniel Cottrell finished with six points, while Aaron Bissell rounded out the Acorn scoring with four points. Acorn shot 52% (15-of-29) from the line, while the Bears shot 36% (4-of-11) from the charity stripe.
With the win, Acorn advanced to the 1A Region 4 Semifinals against Kirby.