The562’s coverage of Jordan Athletics is sponsored by John Ross, Class of 2013.
For eight minutes on Wednesday night, things were a little shaky in J-Town. But after that, the No. 2 seed in CIF-SS Division 4A showed why they’re among the favorites in their bracket, thumping Montclair, 79-30, to advance to the second round of the playoffs.
Jordan actually trailed, 14-11, after the opening quarter, but put their foot down promptly and consistently the rest of the night. A 17-0 run in the second quarter put the Panthers on top, and they only allowed seven points after halftime for the near-50-point win.
“Honestly, I thought we came out a little nervous,” said Jordan head coach Chris Francis of his team’s shaky first quarter. “The play wasn’t up to vintage J-Town basketball. But once we got going, to hold a team to seven points in a half in a first round CIF playoff game, I’m impressed with my guys. Obviously we got some things to clean up, but Jerome Wilson was awesome tonight. And we saw a glimpse of the future, and I liked it. I liked Trent Parker. I liked Benjamin Taylor, and the regulars were the regulars when it counted.”
The aforementioned Wilson had a game-high 15 points for Jordan, hitting all three of his three-point attempts while also controlling the glass on both ends of the floor. Franklyn Chambers added 13 points, while the freshman Trent Parker had 9 points in some impressive minutes off the bench.
“It feels great,” said Wilson after the win. “Jordan High hasn’t had this in a long time. It’s just a new, great feeling. Especially from going 3-9 (in league) last year to now being Moore League champs and winning playoff games, it’s a great feeling.”
Once J-Town settled into the game, their defense led to their impressive turnaround. They relentlessly forced turnovers in the second quarter as the visiting Cavs struggled just to get the ball into the front court successfully against the Jordan press.
Jordan scored 33 points in the second quarter to lead 44-23 at halftime, then won the second half 35-7 with the clock running the entire fourth quarter. A total of 12 Panther scored in the first round win, as Francis was able to call up some players from the lower levels and play plenty of reserves throughout the game.
He said the key for his team keeping their edge in these playoffs is all about staying focused and staying with what they’ve done all season: Play fast and play hard.
“It’s called tunnel vision, man, you’ve got to have tunnel vision,” Francis said. “Me as a leader of these young men, I have to stay the same way, I’ve got to be consistent with them. If I take my eye off the prize, and they’re following me, then they’re gonna do the same thing. So it starts with me just staying on them and keeping that same intensity.”
The Panthers will face a challenging road trip in round two, making the long trip into the IE to face 20-3 Liberty High in Winchester on Friday at 7 p.m.. The Bison beat San Bernardino 83-53 in their first round win.