Hillside High varsity girls finished “Phase 1” of their basketball season in grand style.
The Lady Hornets ended 2015 with a 12-game win streak after winning the girls bracket in the HighSchoolOT.com Invitational at Broughton High School.
“The first portion of the season was phase one, where we worked out the kinks to prepare for the conference portion,” Hillside coach Ovester Grays said. “We learned a lot (playing in the HSOT).”
Hillside’s second phase got off to a rocky start, but the Lady Hornets kept their winning streak going with a hard-fought 46-38 win over Jordan in PAC-6 Conference action Friday night.
Stars’ Elisia Grissett and Jakelbi Lewis combined for 28 of the 46 points to help keep their team (14-1, 5-0 PAC) undefeated in the conference and in first place. The Hornets haven’t lost since a 48-40 defeat to Millbrook on Nov. 28, in which Hillside missed 22 free throws.
Jordan (8-8, 4-2) lost its fifth straight game.
Both teams played at a frenzied but cold-shooting pace in the first half. But it was Hillside’s sweltering defense that made the difference. After trailing 16-15 with five minutes left in the first half, Hillside reeled off eight straight points to take a 25-20 halftime lead.
But Jordan junior forward Liz Layne, who scored 16 of her 20 points in the second half, helped the Lady Falcons tie the game at 28 with five minutes left in the third period.
After a seesaw affair, Grissett began to use her size – with six of the Hornets 10 points – to help give them a 35-30 lead.
Layne scored Jordan’s first seven points in the final period to close the gap to four with 5:46 left. But Hillside went into its four-corner stall with the 5-foot-2 Lewis playing the role of Phil Ford, and that was all she wrote.
Grays said he wasn’t concerned with his team’s erratic play.
“No team gets on a roll and win 10 or 15 straight games in a row without struggling,” he said. “Teams always give us their best shot, so an ugly win is fine.”
Falcons get last-second win
Sometimes, Hillside’s Hornets are their own worst enemy.
Jordan senior Cheo Craig hit three free throws with zero seconds left on the clock last Friday to give the Falcons a 58-57 come-from-behind win.
The victory kept Jordan in third place and a game behind Riverside and Northern.
Hillside, which had won two of its past three boys basketball games after starting the season 0-11, had its best defensive effort of the season, frustrating Jordan on both ends of the court. After Hillisde wen up by 10 in the third quarter, Jordan (12-4, 4-2) kept chipping away at its deficit to take a 46-44 lead heading into the final period.
Hillside retook the lead and built it to five with 50 seconds left. But the fourth quarter has not been Hillside’s friend this season.
Jordan’s Taqwain Bell knocked down two free throws to cut the margin to three before teammate Kaeson Mayfield was fouled from behind the arc with 4.6 seconds left. Mayfield made one of the three free throws; but after Jordan missed two putbacks, Craig was fouled from 3-point range with no time remaining and sank the winning points with his ensuing free throws.
“We’ve played in a lot of close games and had a lot of opportunities. In just about every game, we’ve had a opportunity to win,” Thurman Jordan said. “We just need to make the right plays at the end.”
Council impressive in holiday day
Lucas Middle School guard Ricky Council IV had an impressive showing in last month’s The Big H.I.T. Elite Exposure Holiday Invitational at Falls Lake Academy in Creedmoor. Council averaged 24 points and was named to the all-tournament team.
Falcon twins take double gold
Jordan High School wrestlers Micah and Maliik Marcin were a hit at last Saturday’s Pruitt Rainey Invitational at Cleveland High. The twins won back-to-back golds.
Micah Marcin was named the match’s Most Valuable Wrestler after he dominated Croatan’s Tyger Hall with 19-5 major decision at 145 pounds. His twin brother Maliik followed with a 15-0 tech fall of Triton’s Jeffrey Hannah at 152.
“That’s pretty cool,” said first-year Jordan coach C.C. Fisher, a former All-American at Riverside High and UNC. “That’s the first time they have ever won a tournament on the same day.
“Micah is more of a takedown guy and Maliik is more of a mat wrestler. Mallik is just bigger, so he wrestles at the higher weight.
Micah said he wanted to get as many takedowns as he could: letting his opponent escape only to take him down again.
“I want to score 15 points every match no matter what,” Micah Marcin said. “My single-leg cut is my best attack and I just kept hitting it.”
Maliik, who had won two tournaments before but got his first of this season with Saturday’s triumph, just kept telling himself: “I’m the best wrestler here. I’m the best wrestler here.”
Croatan won the tournament with 197.5 points. Jordan finished ninth with 61.5.
Welcome to the 1,000 club
Riverside senior point guard Zaria Rogers joined the 1,000-point club in a Jan. 5 win over Jordan 65-60. Rogers is the sixth Pirate to accomplish the feat. The others are Samika Foster, Dekisha Thompson, Jenna Toffaletti, Jamara McMillan and Maddie McCallie.