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Dakota gains some revenge, defeats Clarkston 46-35 as Jermaine Jackson, Jr., scores 23

By: Tom Markowski, December 15, 2015, 10:30 pm

Clarkston – Some would say that a statement game can’t be played in December, that those games are reserved for February and March.

Just don’t try to convince Jermaine Jackson, Jr., of that.

Jackson scored eight of his 23 points in the final 3:39 and Macomb Dakota upset No. 5-ranked Clarkston 46-35 in a nonleague game on Tuesday at Clarkston.

Last season Clarkston defeated Dakota twice, the second time in a Class A regional final at Troy High.

Dakota coach Paul Tocco said his team prepared all summer for this game but he stopped short of labeling this a statement game.

Jackson, a 5-9 junior point guard, did it for him.

“We came in here to make a statement,” Jackson said. “We defended. Defense is the most important thing.”

Dakota (2-0) was ranked No. 11 in preseason and it was the Cougars that played like a top 10 team, especially on the defensive end. Clarkston was just five-of-22 from the field in the first half and trailed 19-14. Foster Loyer, Clarkston’s highly-touted sophomore, was held to five points in the half as he made just one of six field goal tries.

When Dakota was in a man-to-man defense Loyer was Jackson’s responsibility. But Jackson had help as there were times when Tocco had his team switch to a match-up zone.

“We played very good,” Tocco said. “The match-up zone worked. We couldn’t give them clean looks. And we didn’t. Loyer had 30 on us last year. That’s what we were focused on.”

Back-to-back baskets by Jackson gave Dakota a 27-15 lead with 4:52 left in the third and Clarkston called time out. Loyer scored five straight before Dylan Alderson had a steal and a layup to pull the Wolves to within 30-22. Chris Marshall closed out the quarter with a basket pushing Dakota’s lead back to 10.

Dakota started the fourth as if it forgot how it played the first three. The Cougars had six consecutive turnovers and Clarkston made them pay. Alderson started an 11-0 run with a steal and a dunk, and ended it with a basket to give Clarkston its first lead, 33-32, with 4:59 left.

“Coach said to stay calm,” Jackson said.

Dakota did just that. It did not commit a turnover the rest of the game and closed it out with a 14-2 run. Thomas Kithier’s basket started the run. His block and rebound led to Jackson’s layup in the half court and Kithier was credited with an assist on Tavin Allison’s basket that gave Dakota a 38-33 lead with 2:47 left.

Clarkston, which made five of its first six attempts in the quarter, ended the final eight minutes six-of-13.

“We kind of got exposed,” Clarkston coach Dan Fife said. “It was good for us. They can listen to negatives more (in practice) than the positives. Our effort was there. Our shooters didn’t shoot well.

(Jackson) controlled the game. They came at us.”

Clarkston (1-1) is normally quite proficient shooting from the perimeter. The Wolves made four 3-pointers and were 14-of-44 (31.8 percent) from the field.

Loyer had 17 points and five rebounds, and Alderson had 13 points, six rebounds and three blocks.

Marshall added 12 points and two blocks for Dakota, and Kithier had 10 rebounds and two blocks.  

“A statement game?” Tocco said. “I don’t know. Maybe Dakota arrived in basketball tonight.”

Some might say that happened last season.