Tre Jackson is the bridge between the Troy Taylor era and the foundation Anderson hopes to build upon freshmen Jalin Beard and Treivon Boyd.

But that doesn’t mean the versatile senior guard won’t have time to carve out a niche for himself.

Jackson scored 18 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter, and Anderson ran its Wigwam winning streak to 16 games with a 54-51 decision against Portage on Saturday night.

“He kind of put the game on his shoulders and said, ‘Let’s go get it,’” AHS coach Ron Hecklinski said.

Jackson was the only senior on the floor during the final period, and his energy brought a small and subdued crowd to life.

His back-to-back 3-pointers early in the fourth put Anderson (2-0) ahead 36-33, its first lead since the first half.

But Jackson also inadvertently helped to put the home team in that hole. He picked up two quick fouls, and Portage (1-5) took advantage to open a 15-6 lead.

“I told him he can’t put himself out of the game with a silly foul in the first half,” Hecklinski said. “We need him on the floor.”

When Jackson returned, he and Beard — who finished with 12 points — led a 10-0 run to regain the lead. Then Jackson was hit with his third foul, and the teams went to the locker room tied at 18.

“I felt like I had to keep us up,” Jackson said. “We were getting kind of down at times and making some mistakes. I wanted to keep the young guys up and keep them in the game.”

Portage took a 31-28 lead into the fourth quarter before Jackson made Anderson’s only 3-pointers of the game.

Portage’s Steve Perry answered with back-to-back treys of his own, and the visitors led 42-40 with 4:08 remaining,

Jackson kept Anderson in the game at the free-throw line. He made all 10 of his attempts, including eight in the final period.

Anderson still trailed 48-46 with 1:36 to play when Portage’s Dominique Watson was called for a loose-ball foul. Coach Rick Snodgrass exploded off the visitors’ bench in protest, but junior Brandon McGhee calmly strolled to the line and tied the game.

After shooting just 2-of-9 from the free-throw line in the first half, Anderson missed just once after intermission.

“In clutch situations, we were 16-of-17 at the free-throw line,” Hecklinski said. “That gives you a lot of confidence when you do that.”

Moments later, it was Hecklinski’s turn to question the officials. Jackson, who had a team-high seven boards, pulled down Damonte Lowery’s miss with 1:18 remaining and the game tied at 48. After a timeout, Jackson lost the ball near midcourt. It appeared to be knocked away by a Portage defender, but Jackson was called for over-and-back.

Hecklinski protested demonstrably but wisely stopped short of picking up a technical foul.

The call proved inconsequential when Portage’s Lawrence Jones missed, and sophomore Deandre Coleman was fouled on the rebound.

Coleman made the free throws for his only points of the game, and Anderson never trailed again.

Portage threw the ball away at the other end of the court, and Jackson answered with a running layup for a 52-48 lead.

Perry, who led Portage with 17 points, knocked down a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left to cut it to 52-51 and then skipped to his sideline as Snodgrass called a timeout.

Jackson exploded downcourt when play resumed, streaking past a stunned Portage defense and drawing a foul underneath the basket. He made both free throws, but Portage had one last chance with 24 seconds left.

The visitors worked the ball around to Lowery, who appeared to be open for a 3-pointer as the clock wound down to zero. But McGhee streaked across the floor and blocked the shot as the buzzer sounded.

“That probably saved the game,” Jackson said. “You never know. (Lowery) might have made that.”

The Indians haven’t lost on their home floor since Jan. 19, 2008, against New Albany. It’s a tradition Jackson hopes to continue.

“It means a lot to us,” he said. “We want to keep that alive and keep it going for years to come.”

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