FORT WORTH — Denton’s Michael Jackson challenged himself Tuesday to not let the Broncos’ first playoff appearance since 2010 end abruptly, and he scored 17 points to help Denton survive Saginaw Boswell’s comeback and claim a 62-59 bi-district win at Keller Timber Creek.
Down 26-23 at halftime, Jackson put the Broncos on his back with 11 second-half points.
“Michael Jackson came out to play saying he wasn’t ready to play his last game tonight,” Denton coach Harold Jackson said. “The way he came out in the second half demonstrated exactly that. He came out and was aggressive. He rebounded, he got steals and he was extremely active.”
The first and second quarters saw Boswell feature a zone defense that gave Denton trouble, as the Broncos were coerced into several outside shots. Boswell’s solid 3-point shooting helped it overcome early turnovers.
Speedy guard Dedrick Berry, Marquieth Russell and Zeke Horton led the Pioneers with 12 points apiece.
The Broncos got 10 points from point guard Ryan Daniels, while Adarian Harris and Manny Patterson each added nine.
Brandyn Duncan’s reverse layup in the final seconds of the first quarter gave the Pioneers a 12-9 lead. Boswell extended the lead to 16-9, forcing Harold Jackson to take a timeout.
The Broncos’ defense answered with a mix of blocks and steals, including a steal and outlet pass by Ryan Daniels to Michael Jackson for a transition basket to get the Broncos to within 16-15.
Boswell continued to shoot 3’s as it went on a 10-3 run to close out the half up 26-23.
“We went into the locker room, and we said we have to rebound, box out, play more defense and turn it up,” Michael Jackson said. “We just did what coach told us told to, and we executed.”
The Broncos’ defense got into a grove in the third quarter, as Denton outscored Boswell 17-8.
The Broncos captured their first lead of the game at 29-28 when a towering block by Harris led to a fast-break layup for Romeo Purvis.
Michael Jackson continued Denton’s defensive focus as he stole an inbounds pass for a breakaway dunk to make it 31-28.
“I thought we executed a little bit better in our halfcourt set,” Harold Jackson said. “We were able to force some turnovers, which allowed us to get out into the open court for some easy buckets.”
With Boswell slowing Denton into halfcourt sets, the Broncos looked for shots in the middle of Boswell’s zone in the first half. In the second half, Boswell began to challenge the Denton shooters. At the same time, the Broncos eliminated Boswell’s 3-point shooting.
The Broncos hit their first 3-pointer when Ryan Daniels’ wide-open look from the top of the arc gave the Broncos a 34-30 lead. The game went to the fourth quarter with Denton up 40-34.
Erik Dixon’s putback of his own miss extended the Broncos lead to 40-32, and they took their first double-digit lead at 47-36 on a Michael Jackson floater two minutes into the fourth quarter.
With Denton getting into the bonus with 4:28 left, the Broncos were able to preserve their lead with trips to the free throw line while getting easy looks in transition as the Pioneers pressed out of desperation.
Coupled with missed Denton free throws, the Pioneers came close with a 3-pointer at the end to get within two points, but they ran out of time.
“I thought our focus slipped a little bit down the stretch,” Harold Jackson said. “I didn’t think we executed as well as we needed to in a playoff game. I thought we were lucky to get out of there with a W.”
The Broncos will face Fort Worth Trimble Tech in the area round after it beat Waco.
For Michael Jackson, his sights are fixed on the state tournament.
“I’m really excited and I’m glad that it’s not the last game for me or any of my fellow seniors, but it is going to have to end somehow. I’d rather it end in Austin with us celebrating with the ring, the trophy, the win and set a new record for Denton High School. We are the best when we work together, and if we do, anything is possible.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
DENTON 62, SAGINAW BOSWELL 59
Denton — Michael Jackson 17, Ryan Daniels 10, Manny Patterson 9, Adarian Harris 9, Greg Helt 8, Erik Dixon 4, Romeo Purvis 4, DeRodney Thomas 1
Boswell — Zeke Horton 12, Marquieth Russell 12, Dedrick Berry 12, Cedrine Ouma 8, MichaelBrinkley 5, Brandyn Duncan 5, Cedrick Berry 3, Ishaun Bryant 2.