Clark’s Antwon Jackson had four inches and plenty of pounds on every Bishop Manogue starter Thursday.
And once the Chargers found a way to get him space to operate, Jackson took advantage.
The 6-foot-7-inch Jackson scored 11 of his game-high 17 points in the second half to help the Chargers to a 52-34 win over the Miners in the Class 4A boys state basketball semifinals at Orleans Arena.
“When a team like that doesn’t have a lot of guys inside that can handle our forwards, then you’ve just got to take advantage of them,” said Jackson, who was 6-for-7 from the field and had nine rebounds. “And our guards did a great job of getting me the ball.”
The Chargers (25-5) will play seven-time defending state champion Bishop Gorman (27-4) in the title game at 8:10 p.m. Friday at Orleans Arena. Gorman is 3-0 against the Chargers this season and has defeated them nine straight times.
Clark looked to pound the ball inside all game, but Jackson had trouble finding room to work as Manogue (26-4) collapsed on him early.
“Early we were trying to figure out how for him to get opportunities, because they were just collapsing three and four guys on him,” Chargers coach Chad Beeten said. “But we finally figured it out, and we spaced it out a little bit more. The guys buy into getting him the ball, and mission accomplished.”
Clark sophomore point guard Frankie Collins went to the bench after picking up his third foul with 7:39 left in the third quarter. Without him, the Chargers struggled on offense and scored just nine points in the quarter.
But the offense flowed better with Collins back on the floor in the fourth quarter, when he had three of his seven assists.
“Things picked up because he’s our main ballhandler, and he runs the team pretty well,” Jackson said. “We look to him when things are getting rough. That’s what we needed him to do in the fourth quarter.”
For Jackson, it will be his third trip to a state title game. Clark won the Class 3A title in 2016, then lost to Gorman in the 4A final in 2017.
“A lot of us have been here before, and we’ve been on both ends, from my freshman year winning to my sophomore year losing,” Jackson said. “It means a lot to come back and get another shot at it.”
Gaels cruise into title game
Isaiah Cottrell posted a triple double with 22 points, 19 rebounds and 10 blocked shots as Gorman rolled to an 81-52 win over Arbor View in the other semifinal.
“He’s as athletic a big guy as you’ll get,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “He runs the floor, he blocks shots and his defense has been getting better all year.
The 6-10 Cottrell and 6-6 Mwani Wilkinson dominated inside against the Aggies. Wilkinson had 21 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots.
“We’ve been working a lot in practice,” Cottrell said of the inside duo. “It hasn’t been coming along until right now at the end of the season.”
Wilkinson has provided a spark off the bench in the postseason, scoring 55 points in Gorman’s past three games. Zaon Collins scored 14 on Thursday for the Gaels, and Will McClendon had 11 points and five assists.
Donovan Yap scored 15 to lead Arbor View (23-9).
Now the Gaels look to continue their dominance against Clark.
“It’s good for the city,” Rice said of the showdown between the valley’s top two teams. “It’s something that Clark and us are looking forward to. We really respect them. We’ve come up on the winning side three times this year, but it’s one game.”