The562’s coverage of Lakewood Athletics is sponsored by J.P. Crawford, Class of 2013.
The562’s coverage of Jordan Athletics is sponsored by John Ross, Class of 2013.
Raucous is the best way to describe atmosphere Wednesday night, as the Lakewood Lancers traveled to the “Norf” to take on the Jordan Panthers in a Moore League title race clash. In a back-and-forth, frantic shootout, the Panthers defeated the Lancers, 82-72, in overtime.
“It was pretty electric, man. It is good to see the Northside rockin’, man,” said Jordan head coach Chris Francis, elaborating on the atmosphere surrounding Ron Massey Court. “[This] is what we were trying to get back. We tried to get some pride back on the Northside.”
The game started out in Jordan’s style and favor: chaotic and up-tempo. The Panther press overwhelmed the Lancers, forcing early turnovers and missed shots. With seniors Franklyn Chambers and Kane Young finding the basket early, J-Town pulled ahead 18-9 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Lancers found some rhythm behind the efforts of senior Mason Pacheco and junior Deven Smith. Unfortunately, Lakewood’s leader, Chris Willis, was out this game with an injury, but hopes to return soon. The Panthers continued to swarm the Lancers, and for every Lakewood bucket, J-Town would strike back like lightning. At the half, Jordan was still leading somewhat comfortably, up 30-22.
Coming out for the second half, the Lancers found their bearings and composure, and they were the ones dictating the pace of play this quarter. Trading possession, Lakewood slowly crept to keep it a one possession game.
With under a minute left in the quarter, Lakewood sophomore Jamar Andrews buried a three to make it 39-38 Jordan. On the next possession, the Lancers’ Elijah Nelson would find himself at the free throw line, burying both, and giving Lakewood their first lead of the game, 40-39. The Lancers kept that lead going into the fourth quarter, when the intensity picked up even further.
Momentum on Lakewood’s side, game on the line, Moore League title hopes in the balance, both teams exploded for over twenty points in the final quarter. J-Town’s offensive explosion emerged from Young with a crucial 11-point quarter, keeping the Panthers in striking distance.
“I knew I had to step it up for my team,” said Young, who finished with a game-high 26 points. “We went into the fourth quarter losing, my coach said ‘Come on Kane, it’s your time’. So I went out there and did what he told me to do.”
It went down to the wire, as each possession and free throw proved crucial down the line. It remained a one or two score game throughout the entire quarter.
With under thirty seconds left, Lakewood’s seniors Pacheco and Machary Morris made pivotal shots and free throws to maintain Lakewood’s lead. Pacheco buried a tough “And-1” at the 28.8 mark, while Morris delivered clutch free throws with 11.2 left in the game to put the Lancers up, 66-63.
After calling timeout with 8.3 seconds left, J-Town held the final possession, with one shot to keep their flawless league record intact. With ice in his veins, sophomore Jaymari Redmond delivered the game-tying three to send the game into overtime, 66-all. The crowd erupted as the ball went through the rim and there were only zeroes on the clock.
“When I caught it, I was like ‘Dang, I gotta hit this shot, or we're going home,’” recalled Redmond after the game. “Once [Chambers] threw it to me, I bobbled it a little bit, once I saw the clock I let it off. I saw it go in, and hey, what else can I say: back in overtime, let’s get this W.”
In overtime, the Panthers struck first, and they did not look back as Lakewood struggled to find its footing after the buzzer-beater. J-Town would go on to win 82-72 to remain perfect in Moore League play.
“I’m proud of these kids and I’ve got to give my coaching staff some props, man. I get a lot of the credit, but [my staff and I] are a team too,” explained Francis postgame. “Those men work hard with me too, so I got nothing but love for my coaches.”
Jordan (10-9, 5-0) looks to continue their impressive run, as they host Millikan on Friday with tipoff at 7 p.m. Lakewood (7-11, 3-2) will travel to Cabrillo on Friday, hoping to end their three-game skid and remain in the title chase as the first half of the league schedule wraps up this week.