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Fluker’s runner topples unbeaten Bulldogs 68-66

JEFFERSON — With the game on the line, senior Zackary Fluker drained a runner from just inside the arc to hand John Essex the 68-66 win over region foe Sweet Water Friday night.

“They wanted the ball in my hands, so I guess it was up to me to just do it,” Fluker said following the game.

The shot capped a back-and-forth affair in which the Hornets missed seven consecutive free throws in the final three minutes to leave the door open for the Bulldogs.

“They showed great character. The kids at Sweet Water are winners,” Sweet Water head coach Jonathan Farr said. “That is starting to translate over to basketball.”

Fluker’s runner, which came with six seconds left in the game, was the second momentum-shifting shot of the quarter for him. The first came with two minutes to go win he stripped the net from three-point land to put his team in front 66-63. The Hornets went scoreless for 1:48 until Fluker’s eventual game-winner.

“We needed it,” JEHS head coach Rodney Dixon said of the bounce back win that came one night after his team lost first place in the region when it fell to Sunshine on the road. The win puts John Essex into a three-way tie for the region lead with the Tigers and the Bulldogs.

Fluker finished with 21 points. Preston Parker added 14 points and 15 rebounds in the effort. Darryl Matthews had eight points off the bench for JEHS.