Jackson's Defense Helps Greenies Win GSK

2009 Gamecock commit Lakeem Jackson from Christ School (NC) did not have one of his best games statistcally, but he shut down the #1 point guard prospect in the nation, a key factor in his team's win of the championship game at the GSK Holiday Invitational on Tuesday in Raleigh. GamecockAnthem.com was there live to follow Jackson and 2010 USC offer, Melvin Tabb.

Lakeem Jackson had thrust on his broad shoulders the major task of guarding John Wall, Scout.com's No. 1 point guard of the 2009 recruiting class, after his Christ School teammate Reggie King got in foul trouble. Jackson took over guarding Wall with his team trailing by 13 in the second quarter to the hometown team, Word of God.

"I was thinking that if I could apply pressure, and keep John out of the lane, no one else could do anything, we could get breaks and cut the lead down," the 6-foot-5 wingman said. "And that's what we did."

They sure did. Christ School "Greenies" were down 23-11 at the end of the first quarter, but they had cut the deficit to 42-35 at half. They took a two-point lead in a big third quarter, before pulling out the win 76-73.

Jackson finished with 10 points on 3 of 8 shooting (4 of 8 from the line), five rebounds, two assists, a steal and three turnovers. "I tried to stay focused, and I tried to help my team in different ways, like trying to get rebounds and trying to keep John Wall out of the lane," Jackson said.

Wall scored 28 points — 15 in the first half. His play shocked Christ School, as he's known to turn the ball over and play real flashy, as well as the rest of Word of God, but it was the Greenies who turned it over early in Word of God's big first quarter, before finishing with 11 turnovers. Wall only had one turnover, and Word of God finished with six. In their previous two games in the tournament, they turned the ball over a combined 34 times.

"John (Wall) is the best north-south guy I've ever seen," Christ School coach David Gaines said. "(Wall is) the best player in the country," Jackson said. "Best finisher I've seen." The game showcased three lead changes in the final minute, but a turnover with 3.5 seconds left cost Word of God the game when they trailed by three on a night where the South Carolina men fell to Clemson.

"I'm just looking to come next year, in the next rivalry game (with Clemson), and just help (USC) win," Jackson said with a face of determination in an interview that had been all smiles from the wing.

Coming up, Christ School will take on a top-5 school in the nation when they play Oak Hill (VA) on January 19 in the Greensboro Coliseum, which Jackson deemed a "redemption" game. Christ School (18-0) fell to Oak Hill last year in Greensboro by four points, and hopes to remain undefeated after the matchup.

"Next time we play (Oak Hill), we're going to play a really good game against them," Jackson said. "Everything that we do, we're going to do it to perfection."

Jackson's teammate, five-star Duke Commit Mason Plumlee, finished with a team-high 20 points and the MVP honors for the tournament. Jackson was named all-tournament, fresh off the Chick-Fil-A Classic, where he was named the tournament MVP in Columbia the week before.

Someone else who was named to the all-tournament team in the other divisional bracket was 6-foot-8 2010 South Carolina prospect Melvin Tabb. The four-star recruit helped his Enloe (NC) team turn things around after suffering its first loss of the season on the first day of the tournament to Panther Creek. "It was a tough loss," Tabb said.

Tabb didn't play the first quarter of that game because of a team policy after attending a family trip that was considered an excused absence by his coach. Tabb would go on to have his worse game of the season by far, scoring only four points.

"The first day it was tough," Tabb said. "They came out hot. Coming off the bench, you're not in the flow. You got to kind of get in the flow of the game."

Tabb bounced back to combine for 32 points and 17 rebounds in the final two games, leading the Eagles to the consolation finals, and in the final game where he was at his best — 18 points and 11 rebounds. His team was up big by half (47-26) on Henry Father Carr (Ontario, Canada), and after coming out to score six quick points early in the third quarter, the coach brought in the bench and Tabb would sit for the rest of the game before the Eagles would go on to win 85-69. "I always root for my other teammates," Tabb said of his coach's decision to pull the starter. "I was happy for them."

South Carolina has offered Tabb and is still showing a lot of interest in the big man.

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