Feb 27, 2013
The Jordan High School Falcons will move on to the next round of the playoffs, while the Middle Creek Mustangs are done.
Arms linked together on the bench and fans shaking the gym with noise, the Falcon bench watched as the team secured a 56-48 double-overtime win Wednesday night.
"I don't think anybody expected us to win tonight," said Jordan coach Kim Annas. "I think everybody expected us to get beat tonight except ourselves."
The Falcons had a positive mindset all night, entering the game as the higher seed on the home floor. They established the tone early.
Trading buckets back and forth through the first half, Jordan came up with a few big blocks from Arthur Reese and Jared Hendryx before halftime to slow the Mustangs.
Still, Middle Creek sophomore Quentin Jackson hit an important 3-pointer in the final seconds of the half. The Mustangs took a 29-23 lead to the locker room.
Middle Creek stole the momentum in the third quarter. While scoring was limited and points were hard to come by, the Mustangs pushed the ball up the court and played at a faster pace.
The Falcons, on the other hand, seemed hesitant to take jumpshots. The contrast between the two styles of play helped Middle Creek take a 4-point lead into the final quarter.
Jordan brought the game to just a single point with 1:50 on the clock with a Hendryx free-throw. After recovering the ball again, Jordan missed three consecutive shots under the rim that could have given the Falcons a lead.
"We could have gotten down. We missed 2 or 3 chances to tie or go ahead," Coach Annas said. "It was like there was a lid on the rim."
Many Jordan shots were disrupted by 6-foot-7 Mustang junior Fred Iruafemi. He would finish the night with 14 blocks, mostly coming in the final minutes of regulation and overtime.
For a moment, it seemed like missed opportunities in the paint would haunt the Falcons and end the team's season. Then, two points from guard Willie Weeks tied the game at 40-40 with 18 seconds left.
Immediately after, Jordan guard John Brown stole the Mustang inbound pass and was fouled immediately. He made both foul shots and Jordan took the lead with 16 seconds to go.
On the final play of regulation, Quentin Jackson drained the floater for Middle Creek to tie the game at 42-42 and send the teams to overtime.
But the scoring slowed in the extra time. Without a shot-clock in high school basketball, the Mustangs were able to hold the ball for over 2 minutes of the 4 minute period after scoring once.
A Middle Creek turnover allowed Jordan to score with 21 seconds in overtime. Each team scoring once, double overtime started with the scoreboard gridlocked at 42-42.
In the second overtime, Jordan held the ball for 2 minutes of their own. A Hendryx bucket gave the Falcons a lead they never surrendered. They forced a Middle Creek turnover and scored again with just over a minute left to cushion the lead.
Putting the game away on the foul line, Jordan would score 12 points in the second overtime to secure the win. Jordan's Darien Ortiz made the final foul shot, and Jordan fans rushed the court as the clock ran out.
The game was low-scoring throughout, with the teams combining for just 84 points at the end of regulation. Coach Annas had no problem with the scoring tempo and overtime pressure.
"We've been behind before. We've played some tough games and have had to battle and come back," he said. "Tonight we did the same thing."
Willie Weeks led Jordan in scoring with 16 points, and Hendryx added 9 more. Quentin Jackson had a game-high 17 points for Middle Creek in the Mustang loss.
Middle Creek finishes the season 19-9. They filled out a 13-3 Tri-9 conference record to win the regular season title.
Jordan, on the other hand, is still alive and boasting a 23-4 season record.
The Falcons, a team that spent much of the season playing with a lead, is now battle-tested heading into a match-up with Hillside on Friday night. The winner will move on to the 4-A Regional round.