The562’s coverage of Jordan Athletics is sponsored by John Ross, Class of 2013.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Poly alum Jayon Brown and PlayFair Sports Management.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by JuJu Smith-Schuster and the JuJu Foundation.
The good ol’ days are back in J-Town.
Less than a week after retiring Ortege Jenkins’ number, the Jordan High basketball program accomplished something that hasn’t been done since legendary head coach Ron Massey patrolled the sidelines: bring a Moore League championship to North Long Beach.
The Panthers rode the hot streaks and dry spells on Wednesday night against Long Beach Poly, but when push came to shove in the fourth quarter, it was the home team that put their foot down on the accelerator, running away with a 59-48 win. The victory clinches at least a share of the league championship for Jordan, and the Panthers are now three wins away from a perfect 12-0 record against the Moore League this season.
“I’ve been in the Moore League for a while, and that was one of the most intense games in the Moore League I’ve been a part of,” said Jordan head coach Chris Francis after the win. “My hat’s off to Poly and to Shelton Diggs and my man Coach Ack. They had their boys ready to play and there’s no quit in them. They’re a testament to this league and they’re the bar in this league. And that’s the bar we set, we wanted to be like them if not better, and I think tonight we were the better team without a doubt.”
J-Town got 17 points from Dennis Redmond, as well as 13 from Kane Young–who had all of his points after halftime. Franklyn Chambers added 11 while distributing the ball well, and Daveyon Chisom once again provided the defensive spark for Jordan with a number of impressive blocked shots.
The victory gives the Panthers a season sweep of the Jackrabbits–something they hadn’t done since 2006–and ends Poly’s impressive Moore League title streak at 13 seasons.
“We trust each other,” said Redmond on his team’s ability to win so many close league games this year. “When we started building trust and hanging out with each other, we realized that we can actually go somewhere really far. Once we started doing that, everything just started falling into place on its own.”
The teams traded runs for much of the night, with Poly striking first in the opening quarter with a 14-0 spurt, giving the visitors a 17-9 advantage. The Jackrabbits led 20-13 after the first quarter, relying on their 1-2 punch of Jovani Ruff and Cash Stokley. Ruff finished with 16 points while Stokley had a game-high 18. The trouble for the Jackrabbits was that they scored more points in the opening quarter (20) than they did in the entire second half (18).
Poly held a 40-39 lead after three quarters, but couldn’t keep pace with Jordan in the fourth. The host Panthers put up a 17-2 run to start the fourth quarter–a run that included three three-pointers from Young. The last of those shots gave Jordan a 12-point lead with under two minutes to play, putting the game out of reach. After not scoring in the first half, Young said he got a good talking to in the locker room at halftime which helped him reset and make huge plays down the stretch.
“I came out in the third quarter with a different mindset,” said Young. “Like I gotta help my team, I can't be all about myself. I have to help my team.”
He certainly did that with 10 points in the fourth quarter alone, as Jordan outscored the Jackrabbits 20-8 in the final frame.
Jordan has been on the verge of losing a league game a few times this season, but have found the ability to persevere thanks to a number of different players who can step up on any given night. They’ve got three games left on the schedule, and a win in any of those games would clinch an outright championship for Francis’ team. A win in all three would give Jordan its first unbeaten league run in at least a quarter century.
“That's a testament to these kids buying into the new Jordan. It's a testament to these kids buying into the new culture,” said Francis. “Like I tell them, with five fingers you can smack a wall, but with a fist, you can put your hand through a wall, and they understand that … I really love these kids for taking a chance on me. I really love (principal) Keisha Irving and (athletic director) Lamar Biffle, they took a chance on me.
“I'm an acquired taste, but you know… it tastes pretty good right now.”