JELLICO — Oneida’s JD Thomas ended his high school career like he began it: knocking down 3-point shots.
Thomas nailed five 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 20 points in Oneida’s District 4-A first round game at Jellico on Thursday. Unfortunately, it was not quite enough, as the Indians saw the Blue Devils survive with a 69-59 win.
Oneida played from behind much of the night, battling back each time it looked like Jellico was on the verge of running away with the game.
Zak Kazee scored 17 points for Oneida.
Grant Marcum, another senior playing his final game, hit a couple of timely 3-point shots in the fourth quarter and finished with nine points.
Jellico scored the game’s first seven points and eventually led by as much as 15 points in the second half. But the Indians battled from behind, hitting shots well from the field and from the free throw line, and ultimately took the lead midway through the fourth quarter.
But Jellico was able to regain the lead and keep it there, outscoring the Indians by 11 points down the stretch.
While Oneida shot the ball well, at 49 percent, Jellico proved equally good from the field, hitting 50 percent of its shots. And while the Blue Devils couldn’t match Oneida’s eight 3-point shots, they took advantage of the free throw line, doubling up the Indians’ attempts, 27-13, and finishing with a seven-point advantage there.
Jellico also held a significant rebounding advantage, 28-19.
In the end, illness was too much for Oneida to overcome. Chance Botts missed the game entirely because of flu. Dawson Branstetter attempted to play through his own case of the flu but wound up with limited minutes, particularly in the second half. That left Oneida without either of its point guards, against a swarming Jellico defense that was intent on making life miserable for the Indians with a pressing attack.
Oneida cut the seven point lead to just one point as the second quarter began, then saw Jellico build the lead to nine points at the half. The third quarter got off to a terrible start for the Indians, and the Blue Devils quickly built the lead to 15 points.
But Oneida began to trim the lead after that, cutting it to four points after the third quarter.
The Indians took the lead for the first and only time on a 3-point shot by Thomas with 5:48 to play. The shot capped a 29-13 run for Oneida and gave the Indians a 54-53 lead.
But Jellico finished the game on a 16-5 run to pull out the win and keep its season alive.
The Blue Devils will face top-seeded Oakdale in Wartburg on Saturday.
Thursday’s game was the final game for several Oneida seniors, including Thomas, Marcum, and Logan Marlow, along with Jordan Leeds, Josh Payne and Josh Hyatt.
ONEIDA (59): Thomas 20, Kazee 17, Marcum 9, Yancey 8, Marlow 5.
JELLICO (69): Smith 17, DeTore 12, Hyslope 11, Marlow 11, Shelby 9, Mitchell 6, Ivey 3.