In 'amazing comeback,' Jordan-Matthews men get the best of Southwestern Randolph

BY CHAPEL FOWLER, News + Record Staff
Posted 1/21/21

SILER CITY — Rodney Wiley looked around the Jordan-Matthews men’s basketball team huddle late in Tuesday’s home game and saw one thing on the face of his players: defeat.

After a …

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In 'amazing comeback,' Jordan-Matthews men get the best of Southwestern Randolph

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SILER CITY — Rodney Wiley looked around the Jordan-Matthews men’s basketball team huddle late in Tuesday’s home game and saw one thing on the face of his players: defeat.

After a solid first half, the Jets now trailed Southwestern Randolph by 14 points early in the fourth quarter. They weren’t communicating. They weren’t energetic. They couldn’t buy a bucket.

“They kind of quit a little bit,” Wiley said.

But the head coach held strong. He addressed the team’s body language. He called for a full-court press against the Cougars. He reminded the Jets: “It takes just one guy to light a fire.”

“And we did that,” Wiley said, grinning behind a blue and gold face mask.

In an ending you’d have to see to believe, Jordan-Matthews rallied from down 58-44 to force overtime against Southwestern Randolph at 60-60 and left its home gym with an improbable 70-67 victory.

Senior guard Jayden Davis had 26 points and junior guard Rayshaun Alston had 24 to lead the Jets, who are now 3-2 in the PAC 7 2A Conference ahead of a Friday home game against Wheatmore.

“Just a comeback, man,” Davis said. “Just an amazing comeback.”

“It started with defense,” Alston added.

He was right. Although Davis and Alston alone put up 50 of J-M’s 70 points, they never would’ve gotten the chance if it wasn’t for the Jets’ relentless full-court defense, which they call the 11 press.

Assistant coach Ricky Woods was the first to suggest the 11 in Jordan-Matthews’ fateful fourth-quarter huddle. The Jets had practiced it minimally this season, Wiley said. They’d held off on it earlier in Tuesday’s game, too, since they were down two players and working with a limited rotation.

At this point, though, what did they have to lose?

With two J-M guards swarming Southwestern Randolph’s ball handlers for a double team and another guard operating like a free safety, surveying any potential passing lanes, it was an immediate success.

The Cougars were flummoxed, rarely advancing past halfcourt. The Jets, meanwhile, caught fire with consecutive 3-pointers from Davis and easy layups off live-ball turnovers. After 13 consecutive (and rapid) Jordan-Matthews points, Southwestern Randolph’s lead was down to 58-57.

“Coach told us from the start to hang our hat on defense,” Davis said.

The Cougars finally got back on the board with a layup, which put them ahead 60-57, but the Jets kept pestering their opponent and forcing turnovers. Jordan-Matthews dominated possession in the game’s final minute, with Davis making a layup and later a free throw to tie the game at 60-60.

On the final possession of regulation, Davis also got to the rim for a soft floater, which went halfway down then rimmed out to prevent a walk-off Jordan-Matthews win at the buzzer.

“I could’ve sworn it was going down,” Davis said, laughing.

The Jets — who outscored the Cougars 10-3 to end the overtime period after trailing 64-60 — got huge games from players outside of Davis, too. Alston, a junior reserve who started on Tuesday, dominated in attacking the middle of Southwestern Randolph’s 2-3 zone. He made a number of impressive, twisting layups and racked up 24 points, easily besting his previous season high of 10.

“I just had to step up and fulfill what coach needed at all times,” he said.

Not to be outdone by J-M’s dynamic duo of Davis and Alston, senior forward Eral Jones put up 12 points, pulled down offensive rebounds by the boatload and served as the team’s defensive anchor all night.

No play was more important than the charge he drew on a driving Southwestern Randolph player with 15 seconds left in overtime, which gave the ball back to Jordan-Matthews with a 68-67 lead.

“That charge at the end probably won us the game,” Alston said.

Subsequent free throws by Alston and senior guard Huston Causey put the Jets up three. And senior guard Jacquez Thompson — who, fittingly, plays some linebacker and defensive back for the J-M football team — broke up a pass on the Cougars’ final possession to prevent a game-tying 3-point attempt.

Alston gathered the loose ball and threw it ahead to Davis, who dribbled out the final seconds of overtime until the buzzer sounded, certifying an unbelievable fourth-quarter comeback as official.

Fifteen minutes later, Wiley was still shaking his head in awe.

 “It was just a great high school basketball game on a Tuesday night,” he said.

Reporter Chapel Fowler can be reached at cfowler@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @chapelfowler.

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