Shelton gets transition game into high gear as Trail Blazers blow out Danville in second half


John Wood Community College's Jordan Shelton dribbles past Danville's Ryan Caddell during Saturday afternoon's men's college basketball game at the Student Activity Center. | David Adam

QUINCY, Ill. – John Wood Community College guard Jordan Shelton spent all but five minutes of the first half of Saturday afternoon’s game against Danville Area Community College on the bench with two personal fouls.

He went from spectator to spectacular in the second half.

The 5-foot-11 freshman from Mexico (Mo.) High School scored all 19 of his points after intermission, including 14 during a pivotal five-minute stretch when the Trail Blazers blew open a tight game and raced to an impressive 84-56 victory in the Student Activity Center.

Leading 38-37 with 16 minutes remaining, JWCC threw its transition game into high gear — with Shelton leading the charge — to score 16 consecutive points, part of a decisive 23-2 run that helped lock up its seventh win in eight games.

“I was definitely feeling it,” Shelton said. “Sitting out the whole first half because of foul trouble, I had to come back and get in the rhythm of the game again.”

It didn’t take him long to find it.

Dominating the defensive boards, the Trail Blazers used their quickness in the backcourt to speed up the tempo, attack the basket and dial up the pressure.

Shelton’s steal and crowd-pleasing dunk pushed their lead to 48-37. After teammate Joshua Talton was fouled after taking a rebound coast-to-coast for a layup and sank the free throw, Shelton buried back-to-back 3-pointers from each wing.

He followed with a transition layup and a burst through the lane for another layup to put JWCC comfortably in front 61-39 with 10:57 remaining.

“Jordan shot the leather off the basketball,” Talton said.

It proved to be contagious.

The Trail Blazers hit seven 3-pointers in the second half – Shelton and reserve guard Nolan Deitrich had three apiece – and shot 50 percent from the field to improve to 12-7 overall and 4-1 in Region 24 play.

It was quite a turnaround from the first half.

“We had a little urgency at halftime,” said JWCC coach Brad Hoyt, whose team clung to a slim 34-31 advantage. “I didn’t think we had played with any flow. I thought we shot too many perimeter shots.

“We started taking the ball to the basket in the second half, and that opened things up. We were getting stops to get out and run. Our pace really picked up, and we’re better with pace. Our guards are as good from free throw line to free throw line as we’ve had here in a long time. And shots were going in. Coaches always look smarter when the ball goes in the basket.”

The Trail Blazers opened a 26-18 lead on a layup by guard Cachao Gianquinto Jr. with 5:26 remaining in the first half, only for the Jaguars to rally to tie it at 31 on the strength of two 3-pointers by Jaylen Simmons and another by Ryan Caddell.

Three free throws in the final 39 seconds by Talton, who finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, gave JWCC its halftime lead.

The second half was all Trail Blazers. 

They locked down defensively, limiting Danville to 28.6 percent shooting from the field and winning the rebounding battle 25-15. JWCC had a 41-30 rebounding advantage overall.

That, in turn, helped produce an impressive offensive display. The 84 points were the most they had scored since netting 107 in their season opener against the Quincy University junior varsity.

“We played some pretty solid defense during that run,” Talton said. “We try to emphasize getting the ball out and going on transition, trying to get the ball to the hoop. We’re pretty athletic. We’ve got some guys who can really push the basketball, and we know where to get the ball to when people are hot.”

Jakeb Wallingford scored 12 points, Deitrich 11 and Kylen Smith 10 for the Trail Blazers, whose next four games are on the road. Simmons was the only player in double figures for Danville with 11. The Jaguars dropped to 10-7 overall and 2-2 in Region 24 play.

“We talk all the time about if you want to be in the fight, you’ve got to be in the fight every day,” Hoyt said. “Our rotations are getting a little bit better, and our roles are starting to be a little bit more established.

“We try really hard to make sure that once we get to February, we’re on that trend towards postseason. We’ve gotten a little better our last couple of games. I think we’re trending the right way.”

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