JACKSON – Looking to knock off some rust on Friday night after being idle for two weeks, the Jackson Ironmen nearly erased a 10-point third-quarter deficit. But the Ironmen saw their rally fall short in a 62-53 setback against Washington Court House in a Frontier Athletic Conference matchup.

The Ironmen have lost four of its last five games to drop to 4-4 on the season, including 2-3 in FAC play. Washington improved to 6-3 and is tied with Jackson in the FAC standings at 2-3.

“I felt as though we had a good plan going into the game tonight,” said Jackson head coach Max Morrow. “We can make excuses like we had a 10-day layoff. We’ve only had three practices and only one with everyone since we had our game before Christmas.

“We are not a team who is going to make those excuses. We need to do better. We believe in what we are doing. We have some guys that need to look a little deeper and get ready.”

With the margin sitting at 52-49 after a three-pointer by Boston Campbell with 2:46 left in the fourth quarter, Tanner Lemaster and Isaiah Haithcock scored on back-to-back possessions, and John Wall made two free throws, pushing Washington’s lead to nine, 58-49, with 44.6 seconds remaining.

The Ironmen would get no closer than six points the rest of the way, as the Blue Lions held on for the victory.

“When we were getting live-ball turnovers, they were turning into buckets the other way, and that is a hard deficit to overcome,” Morrow said. “We didn’t shoot the three very well tonight, we didn’t shoot free throws well at times, and that compounds the problem.

“In the half-court, I thought our defense was good tonight, and I will take that every night. We are a team that fights, and we rely on that. We just have to clean things up on the offensive end, sure up the basketball, and don’t let them get transition points, and we are right there.”

Campbell led Jackson with 14 points (5-10 FGs, 1-2 3FGs, 3-4 FTs) and three steals.

Jacob Winters followed with 12 points (6-9 FGs) and five rebounds for Jackson, while Tristan Prater added 11 points (5-11 FGs, 1-4 3FGs, 1-2 FTs), six rebounds, and three assists.

Nate Woodard also finished in double figures for the Ironmen with 10 points (2-10 FGs, 1-4 3FGs, 5-7 FTs) to go along with five rebounds, and Evan Jarvis rounded out the scoring with six points (2-7 FGs, 1-6 3FGs, 1-2 FTs).

Although he didn’t score, Holden Blankenship was a force on the defensive end for Jackson with four steals.

Reico Colter finished with a game-high 25 points (10-17 FGs, 2-3 3FGs, 3-4 FTs) for Washington. He also paced the Blue Lions in steals with nine and assists with four.

“We understand Colter is going to go by most defenders in basketball. He is special. He is very good and talented. We knew he was going to get his points, but we had to contain him, and we didn’t do a good job of that in the second half,” Morrow said. His passing got other guys some easy buckets they probably would not have gotten.

“He is also a good defender. We tried to keep in the corner, but he kept sneaking up. If he is on the same side of the floor with you and you turn your head, he is coming from behind. He did that a lot tonight. Hats off to him. He did a good job with it.”

Winters opened the scoring to spark an 8-4 run for Jackson to begin the game. Washington worked its way back to tie the game at 10-10, but Campbell scored on a layup with two seconds remaining to give the Ironmen a 12-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Wall connected on a three-pointer that sparked a 10-0 run to begin the second quarter and gave Washington a 20-12 lead. But Campbell made two free throws, and Winters followed with a layup basket to pull Jackson within four, 20-16. The Ironmen used a 9-7 run over the final 5:29 to cut the deficit to two, 27-25, at halftime.

“We had our defensive principles and the matchups we wanted, and we did a good job of making them stay in front and shoot from distance,” Morrow said about the first half.

The Blue Lions pushed the lead to 37-27 with 4:31 to go in the third quarter. Jackson tried to chip away at the lead after Jarvis and Prater scored on consecutive trips, but Washington stretched the advantage back to double-digits, 43-33, heading into the final quarter of action.

Lemaster and Haithcock also contributed to the win for Washington with 12 points each, and Wall had 11.

The Ironmen were back in action on Saturday at Vinton County before returning home on Tuesday to face Alexander in a pair of non-league contests. They will welcome Miami Trace in a FAC matchup on Friday.