Jackson, Boone shine on senior night

Facing a host of obstacles including injuries and a hungry Pitt-Johnstown (UPJ) squad looking to avenge an earlier loss, the men’s basketball team would not be denied on senior night, besting their opponent 77-63 on Feb. 20.

By Sean Maiolo

Business/Ad Manager

Facing a host of obstacles including injuries and a hungry Pitt-Johnstown (UPJ) squad looking to avenge an earlier loss, the men’s basketball team would not be denied on senior night, besting their opponent 77-63 on Feb. 20.

Seniors Emmanuel Jackson and Cody Boone led the way in their final regular season game at the McKenna Center with two inspiring individual efforts. Jackson paced Seton Hill (SHU) with a season high of 18 points and only one turnover in 39 minutes of action.
“It was my last game so I pretty much just wanted to have fun,” said Jackson of his performance. “My goal was to win, obviously, but I just wanted to have fun and put on a show for my last home game.”

Boone made all seven of his field goal attempts, finishing with 14 points, eight boards and five momentum turning blocks.

“Everyone’s really happy that we got the win over a team that’s ahead of us in the conference right now,” said the senior center following the sweep of UPJ. “I think that we match up better with them because usually teams that give us trouble have four or five guards, but they have two big men and we just match up better [with that].”

“If you don’t get excited over that then you’re clinically dead,” added head coach Tony Morocco of the series sweep.

Also figuring on the score sheet were sophomores Ozren Bjelogrlic and Chris Giles with 16 and 14 points, respectively.

The fans gave both Jackson and Boone raucous ovations after the final horn in recognition of their tireless efforts over their four years at SHU.

“I was pleased with the execution of the game plan for 40 minutes,” Morocco said. “We executed as well tonight as we had, maybe better, all year. We executed, we defended, we believed and we made it happen.”

Morocco also praised his team’s unselfish play throughout the game. Injuries have shortened the Griffins’ bench significantly this season, but the coach expressed great pride in everyone stepping up their play and not quitting.

“This is what has to be understood. We can’t have a normal practice,” he explained noting the team’s growing infirmary.

“These kids haven’t quit. That’s what winning is about.”
The Griffins’ balanced and unselfish scoring attack was crucial in pulling out the win. With so few available players, Morocco explained, each man needed to contribute more and that was exactly what happened on senior night.

“The key factor here is as a team, everybody touched the candy, we got assists, we pumped people up, we hit open shots, and you could just see the confidence building as the game went on,” he said. “It’s great when other people can pick up the slack and all of our kids played extremely well.”

One of the unsung heroes from the Griffins’ win on senior night was junior forward Ivan Cosovic. Although he only tallied four points, he gave the team valuable minutes and allowed Boone to get some needed rest.

“Right now my role is to come in to get Cody Boone some rest,” said Cosovic, embracing his responsibilities to the team.

Several big plays on both ends of the court allowed the Griffins to extend their lead to as much as 23 points in the second half. Cosovic attributed the win to those game changing moments.

“Each game has certain moments that just pull you through,” he said. “Tonight it was Cody’s blocks and the dunks.”

However, the night ultimately belonged to the stars of the game, seniors Boone and Jackson. Both players concluded their home regular season careers with stellar performances exemplary of all their efforts over the past four years.

“Both kids are very good players,” Morocco said of his seniors.

“Emmanuel brings a different element to the game at his level and Cody Boone, when you get a kid who can block some shots like that, he stretches the defense.

“I thanked [both their families] for four years, and I’m going to miss them.”

Through all the hardships both faced in their careers, including two devastating injuries suffered by Jackson, the roommates finished their time at SHU closer than ever.

“It’s been a joy playing with him,” said Boone of Jackson.

“We came up on a recruiting trip together and that’s when he was really fast, before he got hurt, and I asked coach if he was coming here too and that’s one of the reasons I ended up coming here.

“Overall, I look back and see things I could’ve done better, our team could have done better, but you can’t really have any complaints. It’s been a fun time.”

Jackson expressed similar feelings about concluding his career alongside his teammate of four years.

“We’ve just been together. We came in together, and we’re leaving together,” said the senior guard. “That’s my man and I love him to death.”