Jaguars stop four-game skid with victory over Manalapan

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STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
Jackson Memorial High School boys basketball player Keith Adame drives past Manalapan's Jimmy Bruno and rises up for a jump shot during a game played on Jan. 13 in Jackson. Adame scored 11 points to help Jackson Memorial defeat Manalapan 48-26.

Defense was the key for the Jackson Memorial High School boys basketball team as the Jaguars were trying to end a four-game losing streak when they hosted Manalapan High School on Jan. 13 in Jackson.

The Jaguars held the Braves to a season-low 26 points as they evened their record at 4-4 with a 48-26 victory.

Coach Randy Holmes said it was all about the Jaguars “connecting” on defense with their switches to help get Manalapan out of rhythm offensively.

“We didn’t just switch, we switched and connected on defense,” Holmes said. “That really took them out of their rhythm. We kept our foot on the gas and didn’t let up on defense.”

The second quarter began with Manalapan up 10-6, but the Jaguars took control by outscoring the Braves 20-5 to take a 26-15 lead at halftime.

Junior guard Keith Adame was a lighting bolt in the second quarter as he scored seven of his 11 points to help the Jaguars pull ahead.

“It’s all about my guys helping me get opportunities to score,” Adame said. “We really focused on defense in the (second quarter). We got a lot of steals and were able to score off those steals to get going.”

Jackson Memorial continued its strong defensive play after the break. Junior Respect Tyleek began the third quarter with consecutive steals that he finished with layups to push the lead to 30-15.

Tyleek, who was averaging just over four steals per game, had six steals in the win. He finished with a game-high 12 points.

Tyleek sat out the second quarter with two fouls, but he came out with aggressive play to begin the third quarter. He scored 10 of his 12 points in the final 16 minutes of play.

“Being in foul trouble and not playing the entire second quarter, I knew I had to show out in the third quarter,” Tyleek said. “It’s all about hustling and keeping your feet moving. If you’re reaching a lot, you’re going to get a lot of fouls.”

Jackson Memorial took a 34-19 lead into the fourth quarter.

A steal by Tyleek with just under 5:00 to play led to the junior guard pushing the ball up the floor and helped the Jaguars increase their lead to 37-20.

Tyleek fed a sweet pass to Samir Padilla, who scored on a layup as he was fouled. Padilla made the free throw to complete the three-point play.

Padilla finished with 11 points.

Adame completed a three-point play of his own with just under 1:00 to play to put the Jaguars up 46-25.

After receiving a pass from Tyleek, Adame raced hard to the rim for the layup, was fouled and made the free throw. He contributed four assists in the victory.

Senior Steven Bado had a strong game in the frontcourt and finished with 11 rebounds and six points.

The victory over Manalapan was the type of performance that Holmes knows his players can give on the court night in and night out.

“They made their bed and now they have to lie on it,” Holmes said. “What I mean by that is that anything else is unacceptable. We have to play up to that level. We have to have good starts. We can’t have any lags on defense. We have to play with high energy.”

The Jaguars have set their sights on winning the Shore Conference A South Division title, which will not be an easy goal to attain with teams like Central Regional and Brick Memorial in the division.

“It’s going to be a dogfight,” Holmes said. “Every game in the division is going to be tough. There are a lot of great teams and great coaches. We just need to keep being focused on taking things one game at a time.”

Jackson Memorial will face Raritan High School of Hazlet on Jan. 17 and Toms River South in an A South game on Jan. 18.