Jordan boys punch ticket to Class AA state quarterfinals for second straight season with 97-79 win over Dade County

dmitchell@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 23, 2013 

With two minutes, 24 seconds remaining in the second quarter on Saturday, the Jordan High boys held a modest six-point lead over visiting Dade County in the second round of the Class AA playoffs.

Over the next 60 seconds, the Red Jackets went on a run that would put them up by 16 at the half, effectively clinching the game.

Jordan went on to win 97-79 at home to advance to the state quarterfinals for the second consecutive season. It will face Model, which defeated Kendrick, on Wednesday.

"We're a running team," coach Gerald Turner said after the game. "We are in good condition, and near the end of the half, we started to see a little fatigue in the other guys."

Whether their opponents were fatigued or not, the Red Jackets (20-6) simply grabbed complete control from Dade County, which had matched Jordan well for the majority of the first half.

Jamar Sheppard began the run with a basket inside the paint. Tony Palmer quickly stole the ball back and scored easily on a fast break to make the lead 10 points. Zay Smith knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to make the lead 52-36 with one minute, 21 seconds remaining in the half.

Sheppard added two free throws to make the lead 18, but Dade County's Cole Birchfield sunk two free ones to cut it to 16.

Out of the break, Jordan's intensity waned as it tried to eat up clock. Still, the team led 73-52 after three and had 97 points by the end of the game.

"If we kept pushing, we could have gotten well over 100 tonight," Turner said. "But, we were trying to run some clock. You really don't need as much of a sense of urgency once you get up by that much."

Sheppard, who scored 31 of the team's 97 points, said a lot of the offensive success came from the team getting to the basket and hitting the boards for rebounds when the opportunities arose.

"We got a lot of good putbacks," he said. "We were going to the boards hard."

The visiting Wolverines weren't completely outmatched, of course. It had its moments early on, particularly from the hands of two dead-eye shooters.

Birchfield led the team with 28 points in the game, while Clynt Bell hit six three-pointers and finished with 21.

Turner praised Dade County's shooting ability after the game.

"I'll take those guys any day," he said, referring to Birchfield and Bell. "We knew they could fill it up from long range, and they did."

But Sheppard had plenty of help on offense to help get the team to the next round as four other players hit double-figures. Zay Smith had 16 points, Cyrus Smith had 15, Tony Palmer 14 and Demetrius Daniels 12.

Going forward, Sheppard said the team will need to continue to have that solid offensive output to succeed.

"We don't want to change anything," he said. "Just keep pushing."

"We'll just keep doing what we're doing," Turner agreed. "Keep playing with a sense of urgency."

The Red Jackets advanced as far as the semifinals last season before being put out by Laney. A win against Model on Wednesday would get them back to the same perch, but Sheppard said he thinks his team is ready to take the next step.

"We're experienced now," he said. "We know what it's like, and we're ready for it."

Saturday at Jordan

Dade County 25 13 14 27--79

Jordan 26 28 19 24--97

Dade County (79)

Birchfield 28, Bell 21, Page 12, Howard 11, Chitwood 4, Geddis 3.

Jordan (97)

Sheppard 31, Z. Smith 16, C. Smith 15, Palmer 14, Daniels 12, Glenn 8, Jones 1.

Records: Dade County, 19-9; Jordan, 20-6. Next: Dade County, season over; Jordan, Wednesday vs. Model.

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