Coming into their Monday night matchup, Long Beach Poly and Jordan’s boys’ basketball teams were the last two undefeated teams in the Moore League. By the end of the night the Jackrabbits stood alone in first place while Jordan slipped into a tie with Lakewood for second following a 68-53 Poly victory.
Jordan and Lakewood will meet Friday in a pivotal league matchup.
Poly coach Shelton Diggs was happy to get the test and to see Jordan back in a competitive way under first-year coach Chris Francis.
“None of the guys on my team have ever played a Chris Francis team,” said Diggs. “I told them I don’t think you understand how hard he has his teams playing. It’s good to have him back in the league, he adds some excitement, there’s two games you have to really get up for. Not just basketball but toughness and physicality.”
“I feel like we started slow in the first half and let them hang with us and get confidence,” said Poly freshman Jovani Ruff, who led all scorers with 16 points. “Our coaches made some adjustments at halftime and we picked it up.”
The game was tight through the first half, with Jordan leading 12-11 after the first quarter and Poly up 23-21 at the break after a late bucket by Ruff.
Jordan leader Damian Henderson sat out the start of the second half as he was dealing with dehydration, and in that time Ruff and Marcel Hayes ran wild in the paint for Poly, sparking a 20-6 start to the half for the Jackrabbits, who ended up winning the third quarter 24-11.
“I feel like it was the Damian Henderson Effect for us,” said Francis. “It was a one-point game the whole first half, and then with Damian out they went on a run. I don’t take anything away from them but I’m worried about my team, and we missed a lot of layups in that first half. I like where we are, but we can be better.”
Both teams find themselves in a bit of a trial by fire situation, with long layoffs due to COVID-19 positives necessitating a very condensed league schedule in the weeks leading up to the playoffs. Games almost every day means very little practice time, and a lot of learning and adjust in game.
“This was good for us because it was a good reminder about how hard we need to play, how hard to we need to rebound, make sure we’re not playing any soft basketball,” said Ruff.
The game opened up in a wild back and forth fourth quarter that saw both teams score 21 points.
In addition to Ruff, Poly was led by Christian Watson’s eight points, Daniel Hardy’s 11 points, and Kairi Sheperd’s 10 points. Jordan was led by Dennis Redmond Jr.’s 15 points, as well as 12 from Daveyon Chisom, an exciting freshman who got the crowd on its feet with a big dunk in the fourth quarter. Henderson had nine points but was a force in the paint defensively as well as rebounding.
Poly (11-5, 6-0) is perfect at the end of the first round of league play and will face Cabrillo, Compton, and Millikan later this week. Jordan (10-8, 3-1) will play Wilson and Lakewood later this week.