It would be wonderful if everyone on our crazy planet could experience the joy that ran through the veins of William Chrisman High School guard Isaiah Jackson Saturday afternoon.
His big day started in the training room, as he had fallen the night before in a Phog Allen Invitational semifinal at Chrisman, and needed the school trainers to work on his back.
It ended with him being mobbed by his teammates at midcourt as he nailed the game-winning jump shot as time expired, lead the Bears to a heart-stopping 50-48 championship victory over Noland Road rival Truman.
As he walked off the court, someone asked coach Jake Kates if the final shot was designed for his rock-solid senior standout and the smile on the coach’s face was the only answer the Bears fan needed.
Of course it was.
“I went up to the high school about 11 to have them work on my back, and to be honest with you, I didn’t think I was going to be able to play,” said Jackson, a tremendous representative for the Bears on the court and in the classroom and community. “Our trainers did a great job and the closer it got to game time (a 2:30 p.m. start), the more I felt like I could play. Then, the adrenaline kicked in and there was no way they could keep me off the court.”
The game was an instant classic as Jackson, fellow all-tournament team member teammate Zachariah Rowe and the Bears trailed by seven points in the fourth quarter.
“That’s when our defense really kicked in, and we were able to tie the game and send it into overtime,” said Jackson, who missed part of the fourth quarter with muscle cramps. “My legs were cramping and I let Coach know about it, and he called a timeout so I could get worked on over on the bench. I didn’t miss any time at all.”
With the score tied 48-all and the Bears getting a big rebound at 1:29, Kates had his team go to a four-corner offense, running more than a minute off the clock.
He then called his final timeout.
“We all knew who was going to get the ball,” said Rowe, who had to serve as a cheerleader in the overtime after fouling out late in the fourth quarter. “Isaiah was going to take that final shot.”
Kates, who is still probably smiling today, added, “Everyone in the gym knew who was going to take the final shot.”
With 30 seconds remaining, Jackson got the ball and watched the scoreboard clock tick down to three seconds.
With 1.4 seconds showing on the clock, and Truman’s Cam Robbins playing near perfect defense, he let go with the biggest jump shot of his life.
“The minute it left Isaiah’s hands, I knew it was in,” Rowe said. “What a moment! Man, we were so excited.”
Jackson was too sore to celebrate, but he embraced his teammates, spotted his mother Heather (a member of the Chrisman front office staff) in the stands and gave her a salute and joined in on the celebration.
“I’d have been in a lot more pain if I had missed the shot,” Jackson said, “but that is a moment I will never forget. I just want to thank Coach Kates and my teammates for having confidence in me. I didn’t want to let them down.”
– Bill Althaus is a sports writer and columnist for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com or 816-350-6333. Follow him on Twitter: @AlthausEJC