Skyline’s Brandon Wade and Jack Ammerman have known each other a long time. They both made the varsity basketball team as freshmen and have been there ever since, learning, practicing, maturing and winning together each step of the way.
During Thursday’s thrilling basketball city showdown with Pioneer, Wade was showing why he’s headed to a Division 1 college basketball program. He took over the game early, scoring 11 points and throwing in a few nice assists in the first quarter alone. He scored 19 points in the second half and helped keep his team within striking distance even when the Pioneers seemed like they couldn’t miss on the offensive end.
For a while it looked like it was going to come down to Brandon Wade vs. Pioneer standout Drew Lowder (who also will end up in D-1) and the player who had the ball in their hands at the end was going to be the winner. But something happened on the way to the finish line, Jack Ammerman wanted in on the action. Why should his buddy have all the fun.
Midway through the final quarter of Skyline’s 87-77 win, Ammerman created a turnover and took the ball to the basket. The senior guard was knocked down hard to the floor, and not only did he manage to get off a shot, he turned it into two points to put his team in the lead.
Ammerman was coming out of the shadows. For those paying attention you could see him lurking, biding his time, waiting for his moment. Because the thing about Skyline is if you focus too much on one player, there is another one who can deliver the goods. And Ammerman delivered when his team needed it the most in a rowdy gym on the road.
He knocked down a triple to give the Eagles a 74-73 lead. With 2:30 to play in the game, he “delivered” another three-pointer to bring his team back into the lead again at 77-76. And with 1:45 to play in the game, he scored on a nice drive to the basket to make it 79-76. If this were hockey, since Pioneer finished with 77 points, you would call that the winning basket.
Brandon Wade is the Skyline player getting talked about as a serious candidate for Mr. Basketball. He scored 30 points in the win and is clearly the go-to player on this talented Eagles team. And Ammerman (26 points) seems fine with that, which is part of what makes him special.
Scottie Pippen is considered one of the top 50 players of all time but he wasn’t even the best player on his own team. A good comparison would be that Ammerman is Joe Dumars to Brandon Wade’s Isiah Thomas. One is just a little flashier, a touch more dynamic but both are very, very good and both need each other to succeed – not to mention the other players on the roster.
But let’s make this clear, Ammerman is not Robin to Wade’s Batman. Robin was pretty much useless – he never even drove the Batmobile – while Batman was the man. Both Ammerman and Wade are driving the Eagles right into the win column every night as they get ready for the state playoffs in a few weeks.
Ammerman was humble after his team’s win. Humble, but confident.
“We came out strong in the first half and then they made a nice run on us,” he said. “I didn’t get as many looks as I wanted in the first half but my teammates were playing really well.”
Things changed in the second half.
“Ryan (Wade) went out with foul trouble and he’s a big part of our team,” he said. “Brandon and I knew we would have to step it up. I started to get some open shots and if they weren’t there then I got the ball to my open teammates.
“There not always going to be blowouts but it was good for us to get this tough win. We have confidence in ourselves that we are going to make the right play and that’s what happened. The crowd was amazing and the atmosphere was crazy. We just executed at the end and it paid off.”
Execution means getting the ball in the right player’s hands at the right moment. The reason Skyline is so good is that they have a lot of hands that are the right ones at the right time. And that’s the fact JACK!