It may only be the start of the second week of PAC-6 conference play, but there are a few things already crystal clear.
Once again, the power of the conference lies in Durham, where defending regular season champion Northern will fight it out with county rivals Riverside and Jordan for the top spot. That’s been the rule rather than the exception for years, and it’s unlikely to change in 2015.
Secondly, trying to beat Jordan will mean trying to control the pace of play against a frantic, guard-oriented offense that starts five seniors. While it may not be a certainty, it’s also apparent that the Falcons may have the deepest team in the league.
Riverside (11-3, 1-1 PAC) will put that theory to the test on Friday, when it plays at Jordan (14-1, 2-0 PAC). Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.
Jordan, ranked No. 10 among the state’s 4A schools by ncpreps.com, is ranked No. 4 among all Triangle teams by the News & Observer. Riverside is No. 7 in the N&O rankings.
Riverside has had a week to stew since a 77-51 loss to Hillside. Meanwhile, Jordan’s Falcons have yet to lose to a NCHSAA opponent. Their lone loss in their first 15 games was a 77-75 defeat by the private Burlington School in the championship game of last month’s South Granville Holiday Invitational.
Last Friday, Jordan completed its first week of conference play with a 82-37 drubbing of Person in Falcon Gymnasium. Mike Lee scored 15 points as Jordan had 11 players score.
“We have a lot of good guards so we like to run the entire floor,” said Jordan coach Kim Annas, who has captured three PAC-6 regular season championships.
“We like to spread the floor and utilize the guys we have. Mike did a really good job running the point for us and getting the transition going.”
Jordan stormed out to a 17-8 lead and never trailed against the Rockets (5-10, 0-2). Lee scored eight points in the opening period.
Jordan opened the second quarter with a 14-4 run. A 3-point play by Preston Edwards and a three-pointer by Lee kept the Falcon’s advantage in double figures for the rest of the game.
Ebon Jay led Person with 16 points, five rebounds and five blocks before leaving the game late in the third quarter because of an injury.
The Falcons’ frenetic, 94-foot pace of play against Person aided them in shooting 50-percent from the field. They also forced 25 Rocket turnovers.
The fourth quarter was played with a running clock under the new NCHSAA “Mercy Rule.”
Last season, Northern captured the PAC-6 regular season championship after wining at Jordan in overtime. The Knights are 12-2 overall after capturing the South Granville High School holiday tournament championship, then rolled past East Chapel Hill and Person in their opening PAC-6 games.
With only 10 games in conference play, Jordan’s game at Riverside (1-1 in conference play after a loss to Hillside last week) this Friday serves as a crucial test. Jordan downed Hillside 69-61 on Jan. 6 in the season’s first conference game for both teams.
“It’s going to be a tough conference,” said Annis. “Riverside has got a good team. They’ve got some good size. They’ve really improved this year.
“Northern has obviously got a good team. They’ve had a lot of success. They’ve got a lot of good players, as well.
“The conference is tough,” he said. “There’s nobody in the league that’s bad.”
East Chapel Hill (5-9) and Person are off to 0-2 starts in PAC-6 play, but remain competitive.
Following a seventh-place finish at the Lee County Christmas Tournament, East’s Wildcats dropped games After losses to Northern and Riverside, East Chapel Hill will host Person on Friday in a game to see who stays in the playoff hunt.
In the 53-38 home loss to Northern on Friday, Robert Wilson led the Wildcats with 18 points and six rebounds. Carter Collins was the only other Wildcat in double figures with ten points.
Jordan girls in four-way tie for second
Jordan bounced back from two straight losses and put itself right in the thick of the race for first place in PAC-6 girls basketball with last Friday’s 69-36 blowout of Person.
Jordan sophomore Rachel Ruderman scored 21 points to lead all scorers. Senior Salita Greene and sophomore Liz Layne each added 15 points for Jordan.
Greene, recently feted for topping 1,000 career points, hit 7 of 9 shots from the field and also grabbed 13 rebounds to record another double-double for the Falcons.
Person fell to 4-11, 0-2 with its second straight conference loss.
Friday’s win at home was Jordan’s first since losing two straight 40-37 against Mallard Creek in the championship game of the East Lincoln Holiday Jam, and 58-47 at home against Hillside on Jan. 6.
With its 33-point win against Person, Jordan (12-4) was in a four-way tie for second place in the PAC-6 with a 1-1 record along with Riverside (12-1), Northern (5-9) and East Chapel Hill (6-4).
Jordan took a break from conference action with Tuesday’s game at Garner Magnet School, (played too late for today’s Durham News,) and will play an important PAC-6 game Friday at 5:30 p.m. when the Falcons visit Riverside.
Riverside was No. 2 and Hillside was No. 4 in the last ncpreps.com basketball poll before the Hornets upset the Pirates 54-46 last Friday at at Hillside (11-1, 2-0).