In a scene worthy of a championship final, exultant Jordan fans mobbed the court after Josh Thompson hit a driving layup with 0.5 seconds left on the clock to left the Falcons to a 65-63 victory Friday at home over Northern Durham.
“I loved the atmosphere tonight,” Thompson said. “I’m speechless. The crowd jumped on me after the game and I just loved it. ... This feels like a state championship tonight.”
The Falcons’ win over win left Jordan (16-1, 4-0 PAC-6) with sole possession of first place and Northern (13-5, 3-1 PAC-6) in second place in the Piedmont Athletic Conference.
Thompson led Jordan’s scoring with 16 points, while Mike Lee and Chris Braswell each added 13.
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East Carolina signee Kentrell Barkley scored 22 of his total 32 points in the first half to help Northern fight back from an early 24-16 deficit to lead 34-33 at halftime.
Jordan took advantage of Northern’s poor, 10-for-24 shooting in the second half.
Northern managed just one basket during the final 4:25 of the third quarter and trailed by 62-52 midway through the fourth quarter.
Things looked even bleaker for the visiting Knights when Barkley drew his fourth foul and Jordan’s Mike Spears hit one of two free throws for a 63-57 Falcon lead with 2 minutes, 41 seconds left to play.
Two Jordan misses from the field and one from the line on a one-and-one allowed the Knights to close the gap. Northern’s T.J. Bell scored on a putback with 1:10 remaining and then a free throw with 25.5 seconds left to cut the margin to 63-60.
After Jordan missed the front end of a one-and-one with 24 seconds remaining, Northern’s Emmett Tilley nailed a 3-pointer from just off the key to tie the game at 63-63. Tilley ended up with 11 points.
Jordan worked the ball into the front court before Thompson penetrated down the right side of the lane and laid in a one-handed shot that bounced tantalizingly on the rim before dropping through.
“We run that set in practice, and Josh ran it perfectly tonight,” Jordan coach Kim Annas said. “You couldn’t ask for better execution.”
Asked if he’d rather beat a cross-town rival or have first place in the PAC-6, Thompson said: “Champions of Durham, champions of the PAC-6. I’d take both.”