Middle Creek was prepared to get the job done in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A boys basketball playoffs, as the 17-seed knocked off No. 16 Jordan 55-47 Tuesday night.
“Everybody was ready to go,” Middle Creek coach David Kushner said. “This is the most practices we’ve had in a row the entire year with the whole team. We’ve had really good practices and I’m really proud that it showed today.”
The Mustangs collected five first half points off buzzer-beaters that proved crucial with the score tight in the fourth quarter.
The first came at the end of the first quarter when Ryan Tankelewicz threw up a 35-footer that banked off the glass and in.
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“We were trying to run a different play when Ryan got that and I told him ‘If you get it, one dribble and heave it,’” Kushner said. “I told him when he came off the court ‘Just like we drew it up, huh?’”
The second came at the end of the second quarter when Shammond Hicks grabbed a missed Preston Edwards free throw with less than five seconds to go and went coast-to-coast to put Middle Creek up 27-26.
“He’s one of the fastest guards around here, I thought to myself ‘Five seconds is more than enough time for him’ and I don’t think they were expecting him to be so quick,” Kushner said. “From that point on, I thought Shammond controlled the tempo of the game.”
Entering the third quarter with a two-point lead, the Mustangs held the Falcons to only eight points as they cruised to the final buzzer.
“We couldn’t throw it in the ocean when we were standing on the beach,” Jordan coach Kim Annas said. “This is one of the nights you hope you never have. The kids played with a lot effort, rebounded well, but we couldn’t shoot.”
Edwards led the Falcons in scoring with 19 points and seven rebounds and Taqwain Bell notched a double-double with 10 points and 16 rebounds.
The Mustangs’ victory came after a three-game losing streak in Southwest Wake Athletic Conference play.
“We had kind of got down, but these last few days we’ve been practicing really hard, we really pushed it,” said Hicks, who led all players with 20 points. “We wanted to turn it around and play Cary again and show we aren’t scared of them. We’re looking forward to another ‘W.’”
“I’m excited for Thursday, it’s going to be an environment unlike anything they’ve ever played in before and we’re excited for the challenge,” Kushner said. “We’re not supposed to go there and win.”
The Mustangs hit four 3s (Tankelewicz, Hicks, Jordan Johnson, Robbie Frongello) after entering the game on a 1 for 29 cold spell.
Johnson finished with 15 points and Demetrius Bastian scored nine and snatched eight rebounds.