Photo by Heather Middleton
By Derrick Mahone
If Jonesboro forward James White had his choice, he would have given the game ball to sophomore Daniel Peace after the 10th-ranked Cardinals 53-47 Region 4-AAAA semifinals win over Banneker Friday.
Peace only had two points and an assist, but White admired the way the sophomore handled the team and stepped for injured Cameron Sutton, who sprained his knee in Thursday's win over Morrow.
"You have to give props to him," said White, who finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.
"He stepped in there for Cam and played a great game. He was a big reason we won the game because he played his role well.
It was White, an Arkansas-Little Rock signee, who stepped up big for the Cardinals during the closing minutes of a tight game. With the score tied at 45-45, White hit an open 3-pointer for a 48-45 lead with 1:55 remaining.
On the next possession, he made a two-handed put back dunk to extend the lead to 50-48 with 1:30 left. The very next possession, White made one of two free throws as the Cardinals remained in control of the game.
"The beauty of this team is that you never know who is going to step up," said senior guard Rasham Suarez, who finished with 18 points and eight rebounds. "We knew that Daniel had it in him. This was a big game and he played well."
Cardinals coach Dan Maehlman wasn't surprised at the way White played down the stretch of the game. Maehlman said that all of White's success can't just measure by his points and rebounds.
"Throughout the course of this season, James has played a huge role for us," Maehlman said. "If fact, at our region meeting, I nominated him and Rasham for co-players of the year in our region. He plays huge for us in not only blocking shots but alternating shots on the defensive end of the court. He is an unbelievable value to our team."
Jonesboro, the No. 2 seed from the region, got a big challenge for sixth-seeded Banneker. The Cardinals (24-3) held a 28-26 halftime lead as they led throughout the contest. Banneker (14-14) tied the game at 45-45 on a layup by Ryan Green, but was never able to take a lead.
It was at that point, White took control to help the Cardinals, who missed the playoff last season after getting upset by Ola in the quarterfinals. White's 3-pointer gave the Cardinals the lead for good, and was never really challenged the rest of the way.
"He (White) has the green light at anytime when he is open," Maehlman said. "James really played well the whole game."