The Jordan boys basketball team protected its home court on senior night against the top team from the PAC-6 Conference Friday, beating rival Riverside 76-63.
"It was big because we were 6-4 (in conference) going into this game and we just knew we really needed to beat them just so we could have a good seed in the playoffs,” said Jordan senior forward Jahidi Thomas, who scored a team-high 22 points for the Falcons.
With the win, Jordan (16-6, 7-4) has now won two games in a row and the Falcons still haven’t lost at home against Riverside since 2010.
Earlier on in the evening, the Riverside girls cruised to an easy 67-31 victory over the Falcons as three different players scored in double-figures for the Pirates (15-5, 7-2).
Jordan coach Kim Annas always knew his team was capable of playing very well whenever they were focused, so it didn’t come as a huge surprise to him that the Falcons led 25-6 after just one quarter of play.
With memories of last month’s loss to Riverside still lingering, Jordan came out on fire, playing intense defense and getting good, clean looks at the basket on offense.
“I think tonight the guys were really focused and I thought we were able to hit a lot of good shoots early in the game,” Annas said.
Led by Thomas, the Falcons were able to dominate Riverside in the paint and got many uncontested looks near the basket while also dominating the rebounding battle.
After a disastrous first quarter, Riverside regrouped and the Pirates were competitive the rest of the way, cutting Jordan’s lead down to five points multiple times during the second half.
But everytime Riverside would threaten, Jordan found a way to respond. Down the stretch, Jordan guards Mikal Gaylord (17 points) and Kaeson Mayfield (11 points) helped seal the victory for the Falcons with their stellar free throw shooting.
Riverside head coach Brian Strickland thought his team played pretty well from the second quarter onward, but even he knows that not many games are won after trailing by 19 points in the first quarter.
“You can’t give up 25 points in the first quarter and when you do that you definitely can’t score six,” Strickland said.
Junior forward Andrew Freeman led the Pirates with 17 points, 15 of which came on 3-pointers.
Riverside coach Alicia Jones was unsure how her team would respond to a 13-point loss to Hillside from earlier in the week. The Pirates made it clear that they’ve moved on as a group.
Riverside dominated Jordan from start to finish, never trailing, as three different players scored in double-figures, including seniors Zaria Rogers and Ariel Wilson, who both recorded 14 points.
“My team came out really hard,” Rogers said. “We got the lead really early which allowed us to play harder in the second half.”
Jones was particularly impressed with the way Rogers ran the Pirate offense. When Riverside wanted to get out and transition and run the floor against Jordan it was able to, but the Pirates were also able to score in its halfcourt offense, as well.
“She was a general on the floor today,” Jones said.
With the win, Riverside remains in second place in the PAC-6 and will face Person next.
Junior forward Talia Barnes led Jordan with 17 points in the loss.