Jalen Jones and the St. Ambrose men’s basketball team welcomed a return to action Thursday.
Playing in his first game since his senior season at Clinton High School in 2014, Jones contributed 15 points and seven rebounds to help lead a balanced Fighting Bees’ attack in an 82-79 victory over Hannibal-LaGrange at Lee Lohman Arena.
The game was the first for St. Ambrose in 19 days, and while the visiting Trojans shaved 11 points off of a 14-point deficit in the final 7 minutes, Bees coach Ray Shovlain liked the composure his team showed down the stretch.
"We did just enough to get the win, and that’s something we can build on," Shovlain said. "It was just good to get back after a long layoff and play pretty well against a good team from the best (NAIA) Division I conference in the country."
Jones was one of five St. Ambrose players to finish in double figures — Jake Meeske matched his 15 points while Dylan Kaczmarek, Blake Buls and John Kerr each collected 10 — in a game that saw the Bees (8-7) use a 17-2 run midway through the first half to overcome an early 9-2 deficit.
St. Ambrose tied the game at 11-11 on a basket by Jones seven minutes in and moved ahead to stay on lay-up by Meeske 30 seconds later, taking a lead that grew to 42-32 by halftime.
Former Quincy prep Lincoln Elbe rallied Hannibal-LaGrange, scoring 19 of his 21 points in the second half.
Jones collected nine points by halftime, and Shovlain likes the versatility of the 6-foot-6 sophomore who initially signed with Nebraska-Omaha in 2014 but did not make his collegiate debut until Thursday.
"He can play any position on the floor. He’s going to be a great addition to our team," Shovlain said. "It was good to have him out there."