Jordan fends off Yellow Jackets
When Lee County advanced past Union Pines in the first round of the Yellow Jackets' holiday tournament Thursday night, Jacket head coach Reggie Peace said his side would need a solid shooting performance to top Jordan in Friday night's semifinal.
The Jackets got spurts of hot shooting, especially during a second-half comeback attempt, but it wasn't enough. Jordan's athleticism and stingy defense prevailed for a 52-50 win, moving the Falcons into Saturday night's final of the Lee County Basketball Shootout against Piedmont.
Defense staked the Falcons to an early advantage, a 10-4 lead by the time Lee County needed a timeout 3:53 into the game, and it was 14-6 Jordan after one quarter.
Falcon guards Willie Weeks and Mike Lee penetrated the Jacket defense, creating their own buckets or dishes down low to Jared Hendryx or Arthur Reese.
Meanwhile, Dewaun McEachin was the only Jacket who was a tough assignment for Jordan. McEachin, a 6-foot-5 junior, scored with jumpers in the lane and strong moves around the bucket for 12 of the 17 Jacket points in the first half.
The Falcons got balanced scoring with six each by Weeks and Reese leading them in the first half. Jordan led 27-17 at the break.
With aid around the perimeter by Dante Graham, Jason Payne and Hunter Jackson, the Jackets found offense easier to come by after halftime.
A Graham three-pointer cut Jordan's lead to 33-29 and five straight Jacket points opening the fourth quarter, with a McEachin three-pointer and Jackson sticking a putback off a rebound, made it 42-40 Falcons.
McEachin continued his career night, tossing in a one-handed 10-foot shot along the baseline, making despite plenty of contact. A couple Jacket trips later, he drove down the lane and arced a shot high off the glass and in cutting Jordan's lead to 45-44.
Lee County never tied the game or took a lead and the Falcons handled the pressure, figuratively and literally, down the stretch.
Jordan burned Lee County's trapping efforts for two key hoops, a lay-up by Reese to answer McEachin's driving hoop, then after a Jacket turnover with 0:36 left, the Falcons moved the ball and found Hendryx for a hoop and a 50-46 lead.
Jackson made a jumper to get the Jackets back within a possession but Hendryx made two free throws for a 52-48 lead with 10.6 seconds left.
Hendryx led Jordan (8-4) with 13 points. Reese had nine points. Weeks and Lee added eight each.
McEachin finished with 24 points and nine rebounds for the Jackets (7-4). Payne scored 10 points with Graham getting nine and Jackson getting seven.
Lee County will play Northwood in the third-place game Saturday at 4 p.m.