By Clay Fowler
Killeen Daily Herald
Don't tell Leslie Jackson you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
The Bryan forward, a subject of multiple Shoemaker scouting efforts, showed head coach Rick Kirkpatrick and the Grey Wolves a new side of himself on Tuesday night.
Jackson scored 14 points in the tide-turning third quarter and a game-high 24 in a 57-51 victory at Shoemaker in the district opener for both teams.
"We've scouted (Jackson) and knew he was a good player," Kirkpatrick said. "We knew we had to be leery of him but we didn't know he could hurt us like this. He was on fire, really came in to his own tonight."
Shoemaker (6-8, 0-1 district 13-5A) held a four-point lead early in the second half before Jackson went off, dropping 14 straight points, seven unanswered, leaving a bewildered Shoemaker squad down three and forced to call a timeout.
With Jackson and teammate Ricky Tayor combining for 18 points in the quarter, Bryan (8-6, 1-0) doubled the SHS output in the period.
The Grey Wolves eventually recovered, overcoming the 46-41 deficit they faced entering the fourth quarter to tie the game at 50 with 1:23 left to play. But Jackson struck again, knocking down a turnaround jumper in the lane at the one-minute mark. Jackson's only points of the fourth quarter gave Bryan a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
"Hitting those shots early in the third quarter got (Jackson) going," Bryan coach John Reese said. "He just needed a couple of good looks at point blank range and then he gradually stepped out and was knocking everything down."
Keith Smith's free throw pulled SHS to within one with 47 seconds remaining, and when Reggie Mathis knocked the ball away from Bryan's Taylor into the hands of teammate Cory Armour the Grey Wolves had hope.
But Armour rushed a pass down court that Bryan's Artrell Woods picked off, just one of Shoemaker's 28 turnovers on the night, forcing SHS to stop the clock with a foul.
"Bryan pressures you at all times," Kirkpatrick said. "And a lot of times what we did was get in too big a hurry. We had some turnovers at crucial times.
"This team just hasn't learned how to win yet."
After Tyrone McMurray's free throws put Bryan up 54-51 the Grey Wolves had one final opportunity, but Shoemaker point guard Dezshon Madison-McGriff had the ball knocked away and Armour, in a tussle for the ball, called a timeout SHS didn't have. The Grey Wolves were assessed a technical foul and George Beckworth's free throw sealed the Vikings' win.
In a notoriously difficult district, the early setback has lessened the Grey Wolves' margin for error the rest of the way.
"We can't afford to lose any more home games," Kickpatrick said. "And we've got to start picking some people off on the road."
Contact Clay Fowler at firstname.lastname@example.org