Hornets top Falcons, reach regional semifinal
Defensively, Hillside threw everything but the kitchen sink at Jordan while handily losing the teams’ first three meetings this season.
On Friday night, the Hornets tossed in the kitchen sink, too. They went to a rarely-used zone defense and cut back their full court pressure in favor of a devastating midcourt trap. The moves helped overcome a 10-point deficit late in the third quarter as Hillside beat the Falcons 62-57 in the matchup that mattered most, the Sweet 16 round of the state 4-A playoffs.
Hillside’s victory sets up a Tuesday night East Regional semifinal showdown against Raleigh Broughton (25-5), the No. 2 seed in its region. Hillside (21-7) entered the playoffs as a No. 5 seed and Jordan (23-5) a No. 1.
Tuesday’s game will be played at Fayetteville’s Crown Coliseum.
Hillside coach Crasten Davis said the three previous losses to Jordan, which was undefeated in PAC-6 play and won the regular season and tournament titles over Hillside, did nothing but spur the Hornets on.
“We played Hillside basketball,” the second-year high school coach said. “We believed, and we executed.”
As the Hornets ran off the court, senior point guard De’Shon Self (12 points, five assists, four steals, three rebounds), ran among his teammates shouting: “I told ya. Ya gotta believe.”
Davis and Annas both agreed that Hillside’s change from almost a strictly man-to-man, pressure defense to zone played a key role in the game. It cut down on Jordan’s drive-and-dish offense and forced the Falcons to shoot from range, where their shots weren’t falling.
But the key to the game came in the final 31 seconds of the third quarter and the first 5:15 of the fourth.
Jordan held its fattest cushion at 39-29 with 1:52 left in the third. Self, who had hit a floater with 1:15 left, put back his own miss with 31 seconds to go in the frame and was fouled. He completed the 3-point play and added a layup with four seconds left.
Jordan scored to open the fourth period with a 44-36 lead before Hillside went on its game-winning run.
A pair of Malik Evans layups and a 3-pointer by R.J. Robinson helped knot the score at 44 with 3:26 left in the game. Self hit a pair of layups after steals, and tacked on a free throw with 2:46 left for a 49-44 Hillside lead.
“We went to our trap series (on defense) to speed them up,” Davis said. “We denied them.”
“We made some inopportune turnovers and they capitalized on every one of them,” Jordan coach Kim Annas said, recalling a 13-0 run from the 6:43 mark to the 2:45 mark of the fourth period.
Lead in hand, Hillside watched its players, particularly senior Marius McAllister, go to the line and knock down free throws when Jordan was forced to foul. The Hornets missed only one of their final 14 free throw tries, with McAllister (14 points, five rebounds) knocking down seven straight at the end.
Hillside’s offense had problems all night scoring inside against 6-8 Jordan Hendryx (eight points, nine rebounds). The game plan was to take the ball inside against him to draw fouls, but Hendryx swatted down 11 Hillside shots and Arthur Reese and K.J. Alston combined for two more.
Hendryx did draw his third foul and sat down with 4:15 left in the third quarter, but Jordan actually expanded its lead in his absence.
“They’re a good basketball team,” Davis said. “They’ve got the big lineup with Hendryx in there, but they can go with the small-ball team, too. They played well. We had some chances, but we missed some ‘bunnies’ against them.”
Annas spent a solid 15 minutes sequestered with his disappointed team in the locker room.
“It’s been a great season for us,” he said. “It hurts to lose tonight, but we’ve been very blessed.”
NOTES — Trevion Thompson, a two-sport star who is among the nation’s top wide receiver recruits in football, nailed a 3-pointer as the first-half buzzer sounded from just past halfcourt. “What’d I tell ya about those football players? They’re clutch,” Davis said. ... That 3-pointer gave Hillside a 25-24 halftime lead and capped a 9-3 Hillside run that began when Evans drew a charge on a layup by Jordan’s Josh Thompson that would have given Jordan a 23-16 lead with 2:21 left in the half. The basket was waved off and Evans scored on a layup at the other end. ...
Friday's game was played in front of a standing room crowd. Jordan officials said ticket sales were cut off and fans turned away. The Jordan gym has a capacity of about 800, athletic director David Davis said, and it was obviously filled well past that figure with fans lining one end of the court to watch the game. "It was a college atmosphere," Jordan's Annas said. "It was intense," echoed Hillside's Davis. ... The fans were split fairly evenly between Hillside and Jordan supporters, each group packing one side of bleachers apiece and trading verbal barbs back and forth throughout the game.
Hillside 62, Jordan 57
HILLSIDE — D’Ontray Johnson 4, Robert “R.J.” Robinson Jr. 8, Malik Evans 14, Ty’Quon Reid 4, Trevion Thompson 6, Marius McAllister 14, De’Shon Self 12.
JORDAN — Josh Thompson 9, Willie Weeks 1, Darien Ortiz 15, Mike Lee 5, K.J. Alston 8, Arthur Reese 5, John Brown 2, Jared Hendryx 8, Tyreek Frye 4.
Hillside 12 13 11 26—62
Jordan 14 11 18 15—57
3-point FG—Hillside 3 (McAllister, Thompson, Robinson), Jordan 3 (Lee, Reese, Ortiz). Rebounds—Hillside 24 (McAllister 5), Jordan 41 (Weeks 11). Blocked shots—Hillside 2 (Evans 2), Jordan 12 (Hendryx 10, Reese, Alston). Assists—Hillside 9 (Self 5), Jordan 12 (Lee 4). Steals—Hillside 13 (Self 4, Reid 4), Jordan 4 (Thompson 2). Turnovers—Hillside 11 (Robinson 3), Jordan 19 (Lee 6). Fouled out—Jordan 1 (Hendryx).
Records—Hillside 21-7, Jordan 23-5.