Jordan faces Bleckley County in semifinal
By JOSEPH MYERS
Special to the Ledger-Enquirer
It took Jordan eight minutes to get going against Model Wednesday night.
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But once the third-ranked Red Jackets did get their offense on track, they dismantled Model over the final three quarters and rolled to an 84-63 victory in the Class AA state tournament quarterfinals at Jordan High that wasn't as close as the score indicated.
Jordan (21-6) will now take on No. 7 Bleckley County (27-3) in the
Class AA state semifinals Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Georgia College in Milledgeville. A win would give the Red Jackets a chance at their first state title since 2007.
Jordan's slow start, along with hot shooting from the Blue Devils (18-12), allowed Model to run out to a 21-10 lead after the first quarter. Red Jackets coach Gerald Turner said the last-minute switch in game time played a big role in his team's shooting woes early on.
"My players are creatures of habit and anytime you change up how they get ready for a game, it's going to make a difference," said Turner, whose team is back in the Final Four for the second straight season. "We didn't have our normal pregame ritual and it shook us a little bit. But we weathered the storm."
Jordan came out running and gunning in the second quarter, going on a 19-6 run to first take the lead at 29-27 on a pair of free throws by Demetrius Daniel with 3:37 to go before halftime. The Blue Devils tried to keep pace, but by halftime the Red Jackets had stretched their lead to 37-30, outscoring Model 27-9 in the second period.
Jamar Sheppard and Tony Palmer were the spark plugs on offense for the Red Jackets, scoring 10 and nine points, respectively, in the quarter. Both had 12 in the first half for Jordan.
"(Sheppard) is a player that no team really has an answer for," said Turner. "If a big man steps out to guard him, he can drive around them and dish to a guard who's flashing to the basket. If they lay off him, he'll hit a jump shot on them."
The Red Jackets didn't let up in the third quarter, opening the second half with a 14-2 run to go up 51-32 with 4:48 remaining in the period. Model did score seven straight to close to within 51-39, but Jordan slammed the door by closing the quarter with a 15-2 run over the final 3:32 to go into the fourth quarter up 66-41 and remove all doubt as to the outcome.
"I felt like we did what we needed the first few minutes of the game and hit some shots," said Model coach Jacob Travis, whose team was in the Elite 8 for the first time since 1936. "But we knew Jordan was a very explosive team and when they get on a run, it's going to be awfully hard to stop them. They're so quick, experienced and well-coached. It's almost impossible to simulate the quickness and ballhandlers they have."
Jordan spent most of the fourth quarter passing the ball around the perimeter, only shooting when a player drove to the basket, but the Red Jackets still stretched their lead out to as much as 30 points -- at 82-52 on a layup by Chris Glenn with 1:55 to go -- before Model finished the game with an 11-2 stretch to make the final scoreline a little more respectable.
"Everybody comes out against us with a lot of energy and we have to weather that," said Turner. "But along with weathering that, we have to be consistent at what we do. We want to make people beat us at our game, not let them beat us at their game. Tonight, we played our game and we were able to win."
Sheppard led the way for Jordan with a game-high 24 points. Palmer finished with 18 and Cyrus Smith added 16 -- 14 of which came in the second half -- for the Red Jackets. Jordan had a remarkable 37 field goals in the game and outscored the Blue Devils 74-42 over the final 24 minutes of the contest.
V.J. Saxton was 19 for Model, but 14 of those came after halftime when the game was already decided. Davy FIsher pitched in 16 and Robert Pearson had 11, all of which came in the first half.
Tuesday at Jordan High
Model 21 9 11 22--63
Jordan 10 27 29 18--84
Dean 4, Robert Pearson 11, Oliver 6, V.J. Saxton 19, Watkins 7, Davy Fisher 16. Totals 23 11-20 63.
Daniel 8, Jamar Sheppard 24, Hill 2, Glenn 9, Tony Palmer 18, Z. Smith 7, Cyrus Smith 16. Totals 37 4-10 84.
Records: Model 18-12, Jordan 21-6; Next: No. 3 Jordan vs. No. 7 Bleckley County (27-3) in Class AA State Tournament Semifinals at Georgia College, Friday, 5:30