A family affair:
Jacksons enjoying good days at the helm of Lincoln basketball programs

Published 7:12 am Monday, January 10, 2022

STANFORD — These are good days for the Jackson family.

Father and son are coaching the boys and girls basketball teams at Lincoln County, and both are enjoying a season unlike any they have experienced before.

It has almost nothing to do with how many games their respective teams are winning, however, and almost everything to do with how it has brought their family together.

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Jeff Jackson, the longtime coach of the Lincoln boys, and James Jackson, who is his son and the interim coach of the Lincoln girls, were together for their first doubleheader of the season Saturday when their teams played consecutive games in Lincoln’s Patriot Classic.

Both the Patriots and Lady Patriots won, which naturally made both coaches happy. But they also took pleasure in the way their jobs now allow them to spend time with each other and with the ones they love most.

Parents, children, and grandchildren were together for the games, creating some moments that meant as much as any win. There was Jennifer Jackson, Jeff’s wife, walking grandchildren around the gym. There was James holding his young son as he watched his father’s game. There was Sara, his sister, nearby with another grandchild.

And there was a moment following the final game of the night when father and son congratulated each other and shared a hug before they parted ways.

“It’s pretty cool,” Jeff Jackson said. “And we’re a pretty close family.”

Moments like that were made possible when James Jackson was named interim coach of the Lincoln girls last summer. His office is on the opposite side of the gym from that of his father, who has won 358 games in 19 seasons as Lincoln’s boys coach.

“It’s great to have him here,” Jeff Jackson said. “I’m excited to have him in the building.”

Jeff Jackson came to Lincoln in part because of James. When the father was hired in 2003, the son was about to start his freshman year as a student and soccer player at Berea College. The Lincoln job afforded the family the opportunity to be close to James.

And this isn’t the first time the two have worked in the same building. James began his coaching career as an assistant on his father’s staff from 2004-06 while a student at Berea.

James Jackson grew up in western Kentucky while his father spent 12 years as head coach at University Heights and two years as head coach and four as an assistant at Marshall County, and his coaching career took him away from Lincoln County after he graduated from college, but he said he considers this his home.

“You stay somewhere for 20 years, you may not have been raised there, but you call it home and you know it’s home,” he said.

James Jackson worked at Berea, Louisville and Kentucky Wesleyan before going to Georgetown College, where he spent six seasons as an assistant with the men’s team and the past four as head coach of the women’s team.

He became the Lincoln girls’ third coach in as many seasons when he was named interim coach in July shortly after the resignation of Brandon Fisher, who stepped down after one season due to health reasons.

It has been a difficult period for the program, but James Jackson said he is trying to help his players get through it as best they can and to grow and develop.

“You stay positive every day. You try to encourage hard work, effort, togetherness, and you stay as positive as you can,” he said. “There’s going to be tough times, there’s going to be ups and downs, and you try to just magnify the good as much as you can and build off that as much as you can.”

The Lincoln girls, a young team with only one senior, are 6-9 following their 56-40 win over East Jessamine on Saturday,

“We’ve told them it’s going to be a season-long process, and I think we’re making strides in the right direction,” James Jackson said.

Jeff Jackson, whose Lincoln boys team improved to 12-4 with a 67-54 victory over Lexington Christian, said he is enjoying getting to watch his son work and seeing the progress his team is making.

“He’s a lot better coach than I am, trust me,” Jeff Jackson said. “He’s got more patience, and he’s a better teacher, I think, overall.”

James Jackson said there are other differences as well.

“I’ve got better hair, and I’m a little more athletic,” he said.

But Jeff Jackson said there are important similarities as well.

“I think he loves kids. I think he loves the game,” he said. “He loves being around kids and watching them develop, not just on the floor but off the floor and in the classroom.”

James Jackson has learned a great deal from his father, who has won a state championship, 10 regional titles, and 619 games in 33 seasons and who will coach his 1,000th game next month.

But he said what has been more valuable to him than the chance to talk basketball with his dad on a regular basis is the opportunity simply to spend time with him.

“I get to eat lunch with him (almost) every day,” James Jackson said. “Not many times as busy as he’s been and I’ve been in the last 15 years or so have we gotten to do that, so getting to eat lunch with him every day is a pretty good thing.”

“I enjoy that. I cherish that time,” Jeff Jackson said. “We get to talk every day and visit and hug and discuss things. It’s good.”

Lincoln County 56,
East Jessamine 40
Lincoln (6-9) used a pair of second-half runs to distance itself from East Jessamine (6-5), putting the game out of reach with a string of 12 straight points early in the fourth quarter.

Taylen Ralston scored 17 points, Alexia Baldock scored 16 and Elly Sims added 13 for the Lady Patriots, who won for only the third time in their last 12 games.

Sims hit two 3-point baskets and Ralston had a 3 and a steal and layup during the decisive run, which gave Lincoln a 50-34 lead with 5:03 to play.

“Defense led to offense, we got some turnovers and loose balls,” James Jackson said. “(We were) really playing unselfish, making extra passes, being aggressive on our drives.”

Ralston scored 14 points in the second half, and she finished with four 3-pointers.

Lincoln opened a 35-24 lead with a 10-0 run in the third quarter sparked by three East Jessamine technical fouls, but the Jaguars rallied to pull within 38-34 in the opening seconds of the fourth period.

Lincoln County 67,
Lexington Christian 54
Lincoln (12-4) filled the nets from 3-point range to defeat Lexington Christian (4-12) and bounce back from a disappointing defeat.

The Patriots were 13 for 33 from 3-point range after having gone 7 for 30 in a loss at Pulaski County earlier in the week.

“We had better shot selection, we moved the ball a little bit better and did some things on the offensive end,” Jeff Jackson said.

Colton Ralston and Evan Smith hit four 3-point shots each and scored 17 and 14 points, respectively, for Lincoln. Tramane Alcorn added 15 points.

The Patriots, playing at home for the first time since Dec. 9, led 34-14 late in the first half following a 17-3 run that included five 3s, and the Eagles never got closer than 11 points again.

Will Bishop, a 6-7 sophomore who was eligible for the first time Saturday after transferring from Rockcastle County last summer, had eight points and five rebounds in his Lincoln debut. He played in only one game last season before suffering a leg injury.

“He can score inside and he’s got good moves around the basket. You can’t teach size, and he gives us another element offensively and defensively,” Jeff Jackson said. “And Jackson Sims came off the bench and did a great job. Jack and I talked about his role. He’s been starting, and talk about a team player. He just wants to win, and he knows he’s going to play. He’s a team player and somebody I’ve got tremendous respect for.”

Danville Christian 50,
Frankfort 49
Titus Boyd converted a three-point play with four seconds remaining to lift DCA (11-2) over Frankfort (7-9) for its 10th consecutive win.

DCA trailed 49-47 when Boyd missed two free throws with seven seconds left, but Lual Ayiei chased down a rebound on the second shot and saved the ball inbounds to Boyd who hit a 12-foot shot that tied the game and the free throw that put the Warriors in front.

“That was probably the play of the game,” DCA coach Don Story said of Ayiei’s rebound. “Titus had to make the shot and he did, but that effort play by Lu was a huge, huge play for us down the stretch.”

The lead changed hands five times in the final four minutes of a game that was close from start to finish. The teams were tied at 8, 21, and 31 after the first three quarter stops.

“It wasn’t easy … but when you don’t play your best and somehow scrap and win, it’s a positive,” Story said.

Boyd led DCA with 17 points, followed by Xavier Yamo with 11.

Boyle County was scheduled to play Paintsville in another boys’ game Saturday at Lincoln, but the game was canceled after Paintsville bowed out less than five hours before game time, citing poor road conditions in eastern Kentucky following Thursday’s winter storm.

Patriot Classic
At Lincoln County
Lexington Christian  11 19 34 54
Lincoln County           17 34 51 67
LCA (4-12) — Hagan Preston 10, Andersen Green 5, Brayden Mirus 7, Jeffrey Selby 3, Tyler Hall 18, Jack Preston 6, Saxton Howard 3, Pierce Ragland 2.
LINCOLN (11-4) — Tramane Alcorn 15, Jaxon Smith 7, Evan Smith 14, Colton Ralston 17, Will Bishop 8, Jackson Sims 6.

Frankfort                   8 21 31 49
Danville Christian 8 21 31 50
FRANKFORT (7-9) — Jordan Blythe 18, Caleb Hack 20, Ashtin Austin 5, Charles Ellis 5, Carter Gilbert 1.
DCA (11-2) — Titus Boyd 17, Noah Imfeld 6, Xavier Yamo 11, Ryan Ridge 4, Lual Ayiei 8, Grayson Domidion 4.

East Jessamine 10 22 28 40
Lincoln County 13 23 38 56
EAST JESSAMINE (6-5) — Iesha Dean 5, Jermyra Christian 14, Shelby Luong 7, Linzey Napier 2, Gabrielle Curtis 6, Anttinaesha Faulkner 3, Kyla Hunt 1, Reece Evans 2.
LINCOLN (6-9) — Taylen Ralston 17, Alexia Baldock 16, Emily Estes 2, Elly Sims 13, Chloe Ralston 1, Hallie Mullins 2, Mercedes Hensley 5.