DURHAM — The first opportunity for the Jordan boys’ basketball team to cement its trip to the third round didn’t work out, and neither did the next several.
But Jordan kept trying. After putting itself into position to put way visiting Middle Creek in regulation and the first of two overtimes, it finally pulled out a 56-48 win Wednesday night.
The persistence turned into some key stops and forced turnovers that led the host 1-seed Falcons over the 8-seed Mustangs.
“The most important play is the next,” said Jordan senior Willie Weeks.
And the Falcons kept creating that next chance, even when the first ones didn’t work.
Middle Creek (19-9) led 40-38 with 46.5 seconds to go, but Jordan’s Weeks made a putback on an air ball and got fouled.
He missed the free throw with 25.8 seconds left and Middle Creek soon called time out.
But the Mustangs threw it away on the inbound, as John Brown’s steal led to two free throws with 8.2 to go.
Middle Creek had the answer on a floater by Quentin Jackson with less than two seconds left.
The teams went into the first overtime tied at 42.
“It comes down to defense; we really got after them on defense,” Jordan coach Kim Annas said. “Every time, (we) responded.”
The teams only scored two field goals in the first overtime, and it went to a second one tied at 44. Middle Creek twice turned it over on an inbound play under its own goal, but escaped both times.
Jordan missed two layups on the first try. The Mustangs’ next such occurrence sent the ball straight out of bounds with 21.6 seconds left, but Jordan didn’t find the winning basket.
“We had extremely inopportune turnovers, not necessarily when we were going to win the game but we had chances to win the game, and then we had to make stops,” Middle Creek coach David Kushner said. “We had great responses to plays that hurt us, but you can only do that so long when you keep shooting yourself in the foot, and it caught up with us in the end.”
In the second overtime, Jordan pulled away. The Falcons scored the first seven points of the period and got it done mostly at the free throw line, shooting 8-of-12 from the stripe in the period.
Jordan (23-4) had held the Mustangs to three combined field goals in the fourth quarter, first overtime and second overtime. Middle Creek (19-9), which had jumped out to a 14-3 lead to start the game and led 29-23 at halftime, shot 17-of-52 for the game.
While Jordan’s team defense gets the nod for why it came back, Middle Creek center Fred Irafemi gets a lion’s share of individual credit for his team’s performance. Irafemi broke the school record for blocks with 14.
“He looked like Serge Ibaka out there,” Weeks said. “He was playing great D. There was nothing you could do about it.”
It is the fifth straight year the Mustangs have fallen in the second round.
“This might be the toughest one to take. I really thought we had a chance to do something this year,” Kushner said. “From New Year’s on, they were as much fun to coach as any team I have ever had.”
Jordan, meanwhile, has a Friday night Bull City showdown against Hillside. The winner advances to the 4A regionals in Fayetteville.
“We’ve already beat them three times this year, so one more time should do it,” Weeks said.
Weeks had 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Jared Hendryx had nine points, 13 rebounds and five blocks.
Jackson had 17 points for Middle Creek, while Khamari Bobbitt had nine points and 11 rebounds, and Quinton Ray had 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Blake: 919-460-2606; On Twitter: @JMBpreps