Jordan and Hillside advance to PAC-6 Tournament boys' final
The PAC-6 4-A Tournament will be decided by the league’s “best” teams.
That much was decided Thursday night as regular-season champion Jordan, which went 12-0 in the PAC-6, edged past No. 4-seed Northern 70-62 and No. 2 Hillside survived a thrilling comeback by No. 6 Riverside and won in overtime 56-52.
The semifinals and finals are being played at Northern High School.
The stage is set for tonight’s 8 p.m. boys’ basketball championship — Hillside vs. Jordan. But first will be the girls’ title matchup between No. 1 Southern and No. 2 Hillside at 6 p.m.
But don’t let the success of the top seeds fool you. In every one of the four semifinal games — the girls’ games were played Wednesday — the underdog trailed by no more than one point in the fourth quarter.
In Thursday’s opener, Northern was in the odd situation of being the “road” team to higher seeded Jordan despite playing on its own floor. And the Knights might have gotten a little emotional lift by playing in front of their home crowd, pushing Jordan hard.
Star 6-8 senior Jared Hendryx (12 points, 16 rebounds, five blocks) gave Northern fits all night inside, and Darien Ortiz (21 points, five assists) was his complement on the wing. But the Knights hung tight, slashing a 12-point deficit with under a minute left in the third period to one, 49-48, on a Ryan Arundale jumper with 5:01 lef tin the game.
Jordan answered with a put-back by Hendrix and a lay-in by Ortiz and managed to maintaing a working margin of five points or more the rest of the way. Junior Ricky Council starred for Northern, skying for 30 points on a variety of shots including four 3s and a couple of dunks.
“The big boy (Hendryx) was the difference,” Northern coach Ronnie Russell said. Asked about Hendryx ability to avoid foul trouble, often an issue for the future Queens University player, Russell added: “We didn’t attack him like we should have. I think we shied away from him after the first quarter.”
No. 1 Jordan 70, No. 4 Northern 62
NORTHERN — Ryan Arundale 2, Jaquan Harris 7, Kentrell Barkley 8, Dillon Leovic 2, Ricky Council 30, Kourtney Farrow 2, Avion Jordan 1, Timothy Bell 3, Emmett Tilley 7.
JORDAN — Josh Thompson 3, Willie Weeks 4, Darien Ortiz 21, Mike Lee 7, K.J. Alston 10, Arthur Reese 2, John Brown 6, Jared Hendryx 12, Tyreek Frye 5.
Northern 14 12 13 23—62
Jordan 18 12 15 25—70
3-point FG—Northern 6 (Council 4, Tilley, Harris), Jordan 2 (Ortiz, Lee). Rebounds—Northern 24 (Barkley 6), Jordan 36 (Hendryx 16). Blocked shots—Northern 7 (Council 2, Barkley 2, Farrow, Leovic, Arundale), Jordan 5 (Hendryx 5). Assists—Northern 15 (Arundale 5), Jordan 17 (Ortiz 5). Steals—Northern 9 (Harris 2, Council 2, Jordan 2), Jordan 9 (Alston 2, Harris 2, Hendryx 2, Weeks 2). Turnovers—Northern 14 (Jordan 2, Council 2, Harris 2), Jordan 15 (Hendryx 3, Alston 3, Lee 3). Fouled out—Northern 1 (Harris).
Records— Northern 13-10, Jordan 20-4.
Hughes almost pulls off Hillside miracle
In the nightcap, Hillside appeared to be on its way to a rout, forcing 15 Riverside turnovers in the first quarter with fierce full-court pressure and taking a 21-6 lead.
But Riverside, which has been playing without injured freshman star point guard Justice Kithcart, rallied behind the backcourt play of Al Hughes (25 points, six assists, four steals) and tied it at 27-all with 6:24 left in the third quarter on a layup by Terrence Suitt.
The game remained tight with Hillside managing to get up by seven with 5:03 left but Hughes almost singlehandedly pulled the Pirates back. He had three late steals and 10 points in the period, including a pick of an inbounds pass by Hillside’s Ty’Quon Reid with 11 seconds left that led to Hughes making a pair of free throws to tie it at 49 with 7.9 seconds to play.
Hillside’s De’Shon Self missed a layup just before the buzzer and the game went to OT. Riverside miscues ending up dooming the Pirates in the extra period and ending their season.
Reid hit two free throws to open the OT and 6-8 Jordan Jones missed what appeared to be an easy dunk for Riverside. Malik Evans converted a pass from Korrin Wiggins to make it 53-49 Hillside. Three turnovers down the stretch, one by Hughes and two by Joey Cabrera, effectively sealed the deal as Evans (1 of 2) and Trevion Thompson (2 of 4) hit free throws when Riverside was forced to foul.
“It’s hard to beat a team three times in one season,” Hillside coach Crasten Davis said of Riverside. “Especially when they’re playing for their playoff lives. Give (Riverside coach Brian) Strickland a lot of credit. He made some great adjustments and we didn’t finish well.”
NOTES — Riverside’s loss means all top four boys and girls finishers in the PAC-6 regular season have qualified for the state 4-A playoffs. They are Jordan, Hillside, Person and Northern boys and Southern, Hillside, Jordan and Northern girls.
No. 2 Hillside 56, No. 6 Riverside 52 (OT)
RIVERSIDE — Michael Hodge 2, Al Hughes 25, Mike Singletary 2, Joey Cabrera 6, Terrence Suitt 6, Jordan Jones 6, Mike Tillotson 5.
HILLSIDE — D’Ontray Johnson 2, Robert Robinson Jr. 5, Malik Evans 21, Ty’Quon Reid 7, Trevion Thompson 11, Marius McAllister 5, De’Shon Self 5.
Riverside 6 17 11 15 3—52
Hillside 21 6 8 14 7—56
3-point FG—Riverside 3 (Hughes 2, Cabrera), Hillside 1 (McAllister). Rebounds—Riverside 36 (Tillotson 6, Suitt 6), Hillside 24 (Reid 5). Blocked shots—Riverside 5 (Tillotson 4, Jones 1), Hillside 2 (Evans 2). Assists—Riverside 12 (Hughes 6), Hillside 9 (Johnson 3). Steals—Northern 12 (Hughes 4), Hillside 15 (Self 3, Thompson 3). Turnovers—Riverside 34 (Hughes 9, Singletary 8), Hillside 25 (Self 5, Evans 5, Thompson 5). Fouled out—Riverside 2 (Hughes, Jones); Hillside 1 (McAllister).
Records—Riverside 10-16, Hillside 18-6.