NEWBURGH – After beating Kingston and Middletown in the span of six days, Newburgh Free Academy has established itself as the favorite in Section 9 Class AA this season.
However, as point guard Donovan Fields and center Ja’kwan “Slinky” Jones pointed out after a 62-59 win over Middletown on Wednesday, there is still plenty of work to be done. Class AA is still deep and, perhaps, wide open. Kingston, Middletown and John S. Burke Catholic remain Class AA contenders.
“We haven’t beat anybody until we beat everybody,” Jones said.
Jones was full of good quotes after scoring 18 points with 14 rebounds in the 62-59 OCIAA Division I win over Middletown.
Due to his long, lanky frame, has affectionately been known to his teammates, classmates and coaches as “Slinky” for several years. However, after the Middletown win Jones came up with a new nickname for himself.
“Mr. Clutch,” smiled Jones, emerging from the Newburgh locker room.
Jones, a senior, was kidding about his new nickname. However, give him this: He was clutch in Newburgh’s come-from-behind win. The Goldbacks (3-0, 2-0 OCIAA) trailed by as many as eight points in the third quarter.
Jones’ jump shot from the free throw line with 10.1 seconds left helped seal the win.
“My jump shot has come a long way,” Jones said. “So I was really happy to hit that shot. That’s what I worked on all summer long.”
Technically, Jones didn’t work on his jump shot for most of the offseason. He just developed his shot – Jones couldn’t jump – after suffering a broken leg last January in a 55-54 loss to Middletown. The horrific injury took place when Jones tried blocking a dunk by Middletown’s Travis Cook with 4:20 remaining.
Jones landed hard on his right leg and a bone appeared to pierce through his skin, leaving many fans gasping and covering their eyes. He said he did have flashbacks to the injury during Newburgh’s latest showdown with Middletown (2-1, 1-1 OCIAA).
Middletown led 29-27 at halftime and extended its lead to 42-34 with 4:00 left in the third quarter. However, a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Josiah Borden to end the third quarter pulled Newburgh to within 49-47. The Goldbacks tied the game 49-49 on a basket by Donchevell Nugent, who finished with 16 points. Nugent’s 3-pointer 1:16 into the fourth quarter put Newburgh up 52-49, and the Goldbacks never trailed again.
With the game tied 58-58, Nugent hit two free throws with 2:38 remaining. Marlon Adams pulled Middletown to within 60-59 with a free throw with 51.1 seconds left. Mr. Clutch, er, Slinky hit his big jumper off a pass from point guard Donovan Fields.
Middletown had a chance to tie the game, but Aaron Ray’s 3-pointer from the perimeter missed just before time expired. Ray led Middletown with 20 points.
“This was a big game, but the work doesn’t stop here, Fields said. “We have to still play Middletown and Kingston on the road. It’s good, but we have a lot more to accomplish this season.”