BY AARON PATTERSON
Entering this year’s Dustbowl Men’s Basketball Tournament, Lewis Jackson wasn’t quite sure what his role would be for Leek and Son’s.
As a guard at Purdue (2008-2012), the two-time Bob Cousy Award candidate finished his Big Ten collegiate career ranked second on the program’s assist-to-turnover ratio, fifth overall in assists, and 28th in scoring.
During his senior season, Jackson led the team with 4.2 assists per game, and averaged 10.4 points and 3.2 rebounds.
He also wasn’t too bad at the free throw line where he shot over 70 percent in his final two collegiate seasons. That ultimately worked to his advantage in Saturday’s tournament semifinal as he made 11 of his 15 free throw attempts en route to a 47-40 win over Bud’s BBQ. Leek and Son’s will next play in today's 4 p.m. championship game.
“That was huge,” Jackson said. “You don’t think about it, just coming down and making simple free throws, but if we missed a couple more of those free throws, they get more opportunities. But knocking them down gave us a bigger cushion and gave us a better lead.”
Jackson made his ninth and 10th free throws with one minute to go giving his team a 43-35 lead. The crucial makes came right after Bud’s BBQ had began mounting a comeback after trailing by as many as 10 early in the second half.
Jackson finished with 13 points and eight rebounds after securing only three boards and having an 0-for-3 shooting performance in the first half.
His cousin, O.J. Harrison, scored a team-high 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Ten of Harrison’s points came in the first half.
“All the guys were big, especially O.J.,” Jackson said. “In that first half, I was trying to run the show and they told me, ‘We need you to be aggressive.’
“I was struggling with my shot so I just tried to get in the paint and make something happen, and it worked for us.”
Jackson’s performance was a follow-up to his team-high 21 points on Friday night which helped Leek and Son’s advance to the semifinals. Leek and Son’s will now play against defending champions Indy Stars, led by former Danville Viking and recently signed Danville Area Community College guard D’Lando Carter, and University of Indianapolis forward Joe Lawson.
A win for Leek and Son’s would only add to Jackson’s good fortune after finishing his first season of professional basketball in Lithuania.
“I’m just getting experience and getting to play professionally,” Jackson said of his career. “Of course, a lot of people thought I wasn’t even going to make it in the Big Ten, so it’s been a good experience. I’m still making stepping stones and moving up overseas. I’m hoping I can get back over here.”