Jackson Strong leads the way for HSU with seven threes in a 78-66 win against Sonoma State
The Lumberjacks men’s basketball team clinched a spot in the California Collegiate Athletic Association tournament with a 12 point win over Sonoma State University. HSU improved to 11-10 in Conference play and 17-12 overall on the season.
Junior guard Jackson Strong shot 40 percent this year in both field goals and three-pointers. Also, Strong now has the second most three-pointers made in Humboldt State history for a single season.
“My three shot just felt really good in tonight’s game,” Strong said. “Jamarlin and I got up shots after shootaround today. Honestly, in warmups, I think I hit two three-pointers out of however many, and I wasn’t feeling it then. I don’t know what it was.”
Strong missed in warmups but made it count when it mattered most, helping the Jacks get a possible 7th seed in the CCAA tournament. Strong would lead all scorers with 23 points and six rebounds and shoot 7-10 from the three-point line.
Physicality started early between the Seawolves and the Jacks on Thursday night. In the first quarter, junior guard Jamarlin Jackson delivered a quick 18-foot jumper over the Seawolves guards to get the Jacks rolling. This was a competitive quarter with Sonoma fighting back hard each time HSU would go on a run.
Later in the first quarter, junior forward Justin Everett drove to the basket, and the Seawolves defenders watched alongside some 500 fans as Everett threw down a one-handed dunk with authority. This dunk from Everett brought the crowd to their feet and the cheers continued all night.
Junior forward Calvin Young II started the second quarter with an aggressive layup. Young was physical as well when grabbing boards as he compiled eight rebounds in the game.
Strong put the Jacks on a long run throughout the second which led to a timeout. Driving and using his body to fade away and drain jumpers was impressive, as was his ball-handling skills.
Strong hit a big three to start his night off, and would drain six more before the final buzzer. The defense was playing great in the second quarter and contained Sonoma throughout. The Jacks kept the Seawolves shooting under 33 percent, and headed into the second half with a 34-24 lead.
Head coach Steve Kinder said that the defensive effort was the key to the game.
“Being able to keep Sonoma to 40 percent from the floor as well as they transition,” Kinder said. “I thought we did a nice job surviving their runs and getting stops at crucial times and countering on the offensive end.”
Everett started a run to begin the second half with a couple of excellent jumpers and got HSU up 16, their largest lead of the night. HSU controlled the third quarter and entered the fourth with Strong hitting his hot streak. Strong continued to catch and shoot, only taking three’s in the game.
Despite Sonoma pulling to within seven in the fourth quarter, Strong continued to hit from behind the arc. He would pull up from behind a screen, receive the pass and shoot instantly. The quick release combined with well-timed screens shut down the Seawolves’ ability to pressure Strong.
The fourth quarter was competitive, and you could tell that there was tension on both sides with occasional chatter at one another during free throws and hard fouls on both teams. HSU just wanted to get into the tournament, no matter what seeding.
Jamarlin Jackson and Justin Everett both put in 16 points and make crucial shots for the Jacks. Kameron Curl also added eight points and five rebounds.
The Jacks take on San Francisco State on Saturday for their regular season finale at 7:30 p.m. in the Lumberjack Arena. It’s also Senior Night for the Jacks and a night to honor former HSU coach Frank Cheek. The Jacks will then play Tuesday in the CCAA Tournament (Schedule TBD).