WHITING | Brannon Jones was an All-Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference player last season, and he is known to play his best basketball as the season goes on.
As a usual starter for Calumet College, Jones came off the bench as a “little kick in the rear end to get him back to the Brannon Jones we had last year,” according to coach Ryan Sexson.
If Jones’ play was any indication in the 65-45 win over IU Northwest, the Hammond grad heard his coach’s message loud and clear. He scored 10 points and pulled down seven rebounds in 14 minutes of play, using his 6-foot-5, 270-pound frame to create severe mismatches inside.
“We’re just working on trying to get him into shape,” Sexson said. “We’re a work in progress, but eventually he’s going to be our guy in there. He’s a guy that can post up, finish around the rim and rebound.
"He’s a space-eater. He’s a big boy, and we need him to play big. He’s not just a big body. He has good feet and good hands.”
While having a frame like an NFL defensive lineman pays its dividends on the court, Jones has also blossomed into a very vocal leader for the Crimson Wave (4-7).
“It’s played a big part,” Jones said. “I had a slow start, things happened and that’s the reason I came off the bench. I’m picking it up and getting the guys focused because I’ve been here the longest.”
The Crimson Wave held just a 17-14 lead early, but that slim margin soon ballooned into a 42-22 halftime lead.
While up only three points with 8:48 left in the first half, the Crimson Wave embarked on a 16-1 run, going ahead 33-15 and effectively taking the wind out of IUN’s sails.
Jones played an integral role in that run, scoring six points in seven minutes of action.
“I gave us a spark,” he said. “I just try to play with intensity and finish strong.”
Sexson was unhappy with the way his team played late in the second half. They turned the ball over 11 times while only committing four miscues in the first half.
“We got a little sloppy with it,” Sexson said. “Psychologically (the big lead) it does (play a part), but you’re striving for perfection.”
The RedHawks (4-9) shot just 8-for-34 from the field during the first half, with West Side grad Baile Barnett leading the way with nine points and 10 rebounds. Barnett finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.