Jordan had its shot.
With seconds draining away in overtime, the Red Jackets furiously searched for an open look at a shot that could send them into the final game of the season.
As the buzzer sounded, however, Chris Glenn's 3-pointer barely missed, rimming out and giving opposing Bleckley County a 64-62 win in the Class AA semifinals at the Centennial Center in Milledgeville.
The loss was Jordan's second consecutive loss in the state semifinals. The Red Jackets ended their season with a 21-7 record, carrying a region championship in tow. Bleckley County, meanwhile, advances to the state title game, where it will face the winner of Laney/Greater Atlanta Christian.
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"I'm real proud of my guys," Jordan coach Gerald Turner said after the loss. "They had every reason in the world to quit, but the effort was there all night."
That was most clear following an alley-oop dunk in overtime that put the Royals (28-3) ahead by seven points with less than a minute remaining.
While the crowd was celebrating the apparent nail in the coffin, Jordan raced down to the other end of the floor and Demetrius Daniel knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the lead back to four. Jamar Sheppard scored again for the Red Jackets 12 seconds later to cut the lead to two with 13 seconds left.
The Red Jackets got possession for a final shot with seven seconds about 10 seconds remaining and got a decent look, but the basket simply wouldn't oblige.
"The shot just didn’t fall,” Turner said.
Jordan’s comeback began well before the overtime period, however.
After a quick start to the game in which they went ahead by seven points, Jordan slowly faded in the second and third quarters. Bleckley County built up a six-point lead at the half and a 10-point lead after three.
That's when Jordan came alive, however.
Tony Palmer, in particular, took control of the game for the Red Jackets. After a 3-pointer gave Bleckley County a 13-point lead with six minutes, 37 seconds remaining, Palmer hit a 3-pointer to cut it back to 10. Zay Smith scored on a fast break to cut the lead to eight and Palmer notched back-to-back steals, converting on the fast break to cut the Royals lead to four.
Jordan still trailed by five points with under two minutes remaining, but Sheppard hit a 3-pointer and Cyrus Smith put back a missed jumper to force overtime.
Turner praised Palmer’s effort in helping the team get back within striking distance late.
“Tony has a huge heart,” he said. “He’ll go inside to the basket and you’d think he was six feet tall.”
Palmer led the Red Jackets in scoring with 20 points, followed by Sheppard’s 19. Bleckley County was led by Mario Belk, who had 33.
Turner said he didn’t fault his team’s effort, but that the team simply didn’t shoot as well as it normally does.
“We had great looks at the basket all four quarters,” Turner said. “The shots just didn’t fall tonight. It wasn’t our best offensive performance.”
Looking to the future, though, the coach said that if his team keeps making it this deep into the postseason, there is sure to be one result.
“If we keep getting to the final four, sooner or later we’ll win one,” he said.
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.
Friday at Milledgeville
Bleckley 13 18 16 7 10—64
Jordan 13 12 12 17 8—62
Belk 33, Taylor 16, Walters 8, Hughes 3, Pitts 2, Farrow 2.
Palmer 20, Sheppard 19, Z. Smith 10, C. Smith 4, Hill 4, Daniels 3, Glenn 2.
Records: Bleckley, 28-3; Jordan, 21-7. Next: Bleckley, vs. Laney/GAC in state title game; Jordan, season over.