LILLINGTON — After trailing Western Harnett 16-1 early in the second period, Jordan-Matthews rallied to pull even at 33-all entering the final eight minutes, then used a pair of Seth Moore free …
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LILLINGTON — After trailing Western Harnett 16-1 early in the second period, Jordan-Matthews rallied to pull even at 33-all entering the final eight minutes, then used a pair of Seth Moore free throws with 43.8 seconds to play to seize the lead for good before holding off the Eagles in the closing seconds to capture a 51-49 non-conference triumph on the road Wednesday night.
Halting a seven-game losing streak, J-M raised its season record to 5-9 while Western Harnett dropped to 2-11 for the year.
Lanice Hedgepeth came off the bench to lead the victors with a dozen points as Jordan-Matthews shot 39 percent (16-of-41) from the floor while committing 18 turnovers.
Steven Lassiter pumped in 24 points for the Eagles, who connected on 45 percent (17-of-38) of their field goal attempts and outrebounded the Jets 25-22 while turning the ball over 21 times.
“Part of the reason I think we got off to such a slow start tonight was we were missing our leading scorer (Camden Fuquay) in the lineup,” noted J-M coach Rodney Wiley. “After the first quarter I asked our guys to dig down and play solid defense, and they responded by defending better while we got our shots to start falling. We did much better running our offense in the second half and got some good open looks in the middle during our comeback, while Brayden Teague and Chandler Matthews came off the bench to give us quality minutes at both ends of the court.
“Lassiter gave us some problems in the paint at the outset before we went to a matchup zone and neutralized him by double-teaming him down low,” the coach continued. “We tried to keep Western Harnett off-balance by switching defenses throughout the game, rotating between a 1-2-2 zone and three-quarter court trap.”
Eagles’ coach Seth Womble stated the big difference in the game was his team didn’t execute down the stretch.
“Basketball is a game of runs, and both teams got in a flow at different times,” said Womble. “After we got a big lead early we went away from our inside-out game plan and started firing up jump shots, while J-M had success driving by us and penetrating inside before kicking the ball back out for good looks at the basket. When we had the lead we needed to run more time off the clock, and missed free throws cost us at the end. The game was there for us to win but we failed to find a way to earn it.”
With Lassiter accounting for nine points in the opening stanza, Western Harnett raced out to a 14-1 advantage, holding Jordan-Matthews to one foul shot by Jacquez Thompson.
Following a Lassiter layup to begin the second period that put the Eagles up by 15, the Jets finally found their offensive rhythm, outscoring their host 15-5 over the remainder of the frame to pull within five at intermission.
After J-M trimmed the gap to 23-22 on Eral Jones’ put-back in the lane with 5:12 left in the third quarter, Western Harnett managed to extend its lead to 33-27 on Khalil McLean’s fast break layup with 1:58 to go in the stanza prior to Jordan-Matthews battling back to draw even at the conclusion of the period on Teagues’ hook shot in the lane, Jayden Davis’ conventional three-point play and a Hedgepeth charity toss.
The Jets eventually grabbed their first advantage in the contest at 40-38 following Davis’ frontcourt steal and layup with 5:12 remaining before the Eagles forged ahead 47-42 on free throws from Lassiter and Christian Dantzler’s pull-up trey from behind the top of the key with 2:21 left.
But J-M fought back over the next minute to retake the lead at 48-47 following Matthews’ jumper in the lane and two foul shots by Teague along with Hedgepeth’s midcourt steal and layup.
After Lassiter’s lane jumper with 1:04 on the clock gave Western Harnett its last advantage, Moore put his team in front to stay with his two charity tosses, and following an Eagles’ turnover, Huston Causey added a free throw with 2.9 seconds to go to account for the final margin.