Octorara's scorers too much for Kennett in 55-41 loss
● By Richard Gaw
Photo by Richard L. Gaw Kennett's Jackson Hyland scored 26 points in a 55-41 loss to Octorara on Feb. 5.
Moments before last Thursday evening's Kennett High School basketball game against visiting Octorara, public address announcer Leon Spencer declared to the Senior Night crowd that next year, senior forward Jackson Hyland's name would be stitched onto the 1,000 Career Points banner located on the far side of the Kennett gymnasium. There, his name would reside as the latest inductee into an exclusive club of former Blue Demon standouts.
Such an accolade will serve as a permanent chapter marker for a standout career, but for Hyland, he and his teammates still had one more game to play.
In the last home game of his high school career, Hyland scored 26 points in a 55-41 loss to the visiting Braves, who were led by seniors Levi Worthington and Tarojae Brake, who scored 15 and 19 points, respectively.
Were the game of basketball played according to probabilities, the 10-12 Kennett squad would be given little hope against 20-1 Octorara, but fortunately, it is played on hardwood, where the Blue Demons patiently attempted to puncture the Braves defense with sharp, efficient passes in the first quarter. After quick baskets by Worthington and Andrew Forman, Hyland's turnaround jumper at 5:46 tied the game at four. Despite a last-second slam dunk off of a steal by Forman to end the first quarter, Kennett found themselves down by just one point, 14-13, as the second quarter began.
The laws of probability, however, began to tilt Octorara's way in the second quarter, as the Braves held Kennett to seven points – all of them by Hyland – and entered halftime with a 26-20 lead, largely on the back of Worthington, who scored 10 of Octorara's 12 points in the quarter.
As the second half got underway, quick baskets by Worthington and Brake opened up an 11-point lead, and even a time-out by Kennett coach Brian Urig could not settle his team. Octorara would soon extend to ten points by the end of the third quarter, 39-29, and on three occasions, force Hyland to cough up the ball on attempts to drive the lane in a desperate effort to get his team back in the game.
By the fourth quarter, the game was effectively in Brake's hands, who scored 12 points on a series of layups and jumpers, despite a three-pointer by Hyland with 2:44 left that pulled the Blue Demons within ten points, 49-39.
"We were trying to slow them [Octorara] down a little bit," Urig said. "They play a full-court game very well and they have a lot of athletes on the court. We were just trying to shorten the game and for awhile, it was working. Then they began to make some plays and they got out ahead of us, and the game was back in their court. They were a little more comfortable, and they were able to build on their lead."
While Octorara finished its regular season with a 21-1 record and now heads into the PIAA AAA District playoffs as the No. 1 seed, Kennett finishes the year with a 10-13 record, a season that Urig said was dotted with several highlights.
"We played very well against a lot of good basketball teams this year," he said. "We played Octorara tough twice. We split with Oxford. We just came up a little short and that's what happens sometimes in basketball and in life, but we were competitive in every game."
As he prepared to leave the Kennett court for the last time, Hyland expressed his gratitude over having his name added to the Career 1,000 Point banner.
"It's a good feeling, but I wouldn't be there without my teammates," said Hyland, who revealed that he plans to play college basketball next year at the Division II level. "I have to give it up for all of them. They've been great for these last four years."
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail email@example.com.