For the second consecutive year, the visiting team in the Jordan-Millbrook third-round game in the NCHSAA 4A boys’ basketball state tournament foiled the team thought to have home-court advantage.
This time, visiting Jordan prevailed in an 85-80 overtime thriller that secured the Falcons’ first regional semifinal berth since 2005 (when Jordan was in the West region).
“They proved it today that they had it in them to win,” Jordan coach Derek Ross said. “I think we were able to get to the spots and get downhill and score some easy layups in overtime.”
The nip-and-tuck battle included a halftime score tied at 36. The first and third quarters concluded with the teams separated by one possession. The Falcons led 23-20 after the opening period, and held a 51-49 advantage entering the final stanza.
The sixth fourth-quarter tie came with 15.3 seconds remaining when Jayan Walker (15 points) hit a mid-range jumper that knotted the count at 69 to set up overtime. Walker’s lone fourth-quarter basket was his biggest — and his last before he fouled out on the first play of overtime.
Jordan’s Javier Ortiz fouled out midway through the extra session. The teams stayed within one possession of each other until the Falcons scored six of the game’s last eight points.
Millbrook’s Gabe Cerda (25 points) got a rebound and made a follow shot to pull the Wildcats within 79-78 with 28 seconds remaining. Jordan’s Ronald Bridges, Jr. — who scored a game-high 33 points (seven in overtime) — missed a free throw, but Falcons teammate Walker Woodall tipped the rebound into the basket.
“We guarded something well. Then, somebody gets a putback or tip,” Millbrook coach Christopher Davis said. “You’ve done everything you’re supposed to do there. Then, they just make a great play. It’s one of those things where players make plays.”
On the next possession, Jordan’s Mekhi Sneed scored his lone basket to put the Falcons ahead by five.
Jordan’s Derek Ross, Jr. and Drew Johnson scored 16 and 13, respectively, and combined for five of the Falcons’ eight 3-pointers. Millbrook’s Colt Langdon and Brandon Callahan chipped in 19 and 16, respectively, and made four of the Wildcats’ five 3-pointers.
Cerda, Bridges, and Langdon scored in each of the game’s five periods.
“I’m just so happy for my guys,” coach Ross said. “They fought so hard this season. They really wanted this game.”
Millbrook won last season’s state playoff meeting — February 26, 2022, at Jordan — 65-59. The Wildcats then played in the Eastern Regional semifinals. The Falcons now will compete Tuesday in the East Regional semifinals for the first time since 1985.