BEAR CREEK — Talk about defying the odds.
Chatham Central coach Robert Burke probably best summed up the closing seconds of Tuesday night’s clash between his Bears and arch rival …
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BEAR CREEK — Talk about defying the odds.
Chatham Central coach Robert Burke probably best summed up the closing seconds of Tuesday night’s clash between his Bears and arch rival Jordan-Matthews when he remarked, “In high school basketball, when the game is on the line and you get three uncontested looks at the basket in the last five seconds, 99 times out of 100 you win, but tonight it just didn’t happen for us.”
Burke was referring to Chatham Central’s inability to cash in when trailing by a point in the final moments that resulted in the Bears suffering a heartbreaking 54-53 loss to J-M in front of a packed Gerald L. Binkley Gymnasium.
Earning a split of the season series for the third time in the last four years, the Jets raised their record to 3-1 while Chatham Central dropped to 1-2.
Down one with five seconds showing on the clock, Chatham Central inbounded the ball to Michael Moore on the right baseline for a clean shot at the hoop, but when his attempt rimmed out, Lucas Skertich grabbed the rebound and laid up a shot that failed to drop before Nic Wilson attempted to tip in the miss, but the ball rolled off the rim as time expired.
Moore topped all scorers with 22 points and Skertich added 15 for the Bears, who shot 48% (20-of-42) from the floor and commanded a 30-22 advantage in rebounds while turning the ball over 14 times.
Despite playing on a hurt ankle, Camden Fuquay came off the bench to fire in 17 points for Jordan-Matthews, while Jayden Davis and Lanice Hedgepeth contributed 11 points apiece for the victors. The Jets connected on 43% (20-of-47) of their field goal attempts while committing 15 turnovers.
“I thought the big key this evening was after we opened up a nice early lead we got complacent, didn’t play good defense and failed to seal the deal when we had the chance to do so,” said Burke. “But both teams dug deep and played hard to stay in the game, and my hat is off to Camden Fuquay, who killed us in the paint while playing through pain.”
J-M coach Rodney Wiley agreed Fuquay turned out to be the difference in the contest.
“Turnovers and not being able to hit open looks caused us to fall behind early,” Wiley said, “but we found a way to overcome Chatham Central‘s tough zone and fought hard to get back in the game. Even though he was playing on a bad ankle, Camden gave us a big lift off the bench in the second half and made some huge shots down the stretch.
“Our full-court man defense starting forcing some turnovers in the second half that got our offense going,” he said, “but we were fortunate to escape at the end.”
With Jordan-Matthews sinking just one-of-12 attempts from the field in the initial period, the Bears clawed their way to a 9-3 advantage after one quarter behind three close-in buckets from Wilson and a Preston Cox trey from the left wing.
Following back-to-back lane jumpers by Skertich to begin the second stanza that extended Chatham Central’s lead to 10, a pair of Huston Causey three-pointers ignited a 19-7 Jets’ run that put J-M up by two with 1:13 left in the first half.
Moore’s inbounds layup was then countered by a Causey free throw with 44 seconds to go until the break, sending Jordan-Matthews into intermission with a 23-22 advantage.
The Jets built as much as a four-point cushion on five occasions in the third period prior to Moore draining consecutive three-pointers from the left side over the last 23 seconds of the stanza to give the Bears a 40-38 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
Neither squad held more than a three-point advantage over the course of a fourth quarter that featured three lead swaps and four ties before J-M’s Seth Moore canned a bank shot in the lane with 13 seconds remaining to put the winners ahead to stay at 54-52.
Wilson was then fouled in the act of shooting with six seconds left, and after making his first charity toss, Wilson’s miss on his second attempt was gathered in by Michael Moore, who immediately called a timeout to set the stage for the dramatic finish.