Cardinal Gibbons boys’ basketball coach Jim Ryan saw his team’s 11-point halftime lead over Jordan become smaller and smaller in the second half Tuesday night. The Falcons even cut the deficit down to two points in the fourth quarter, but the Crusaders ultimately pulled away in the end, winning 58-48 to extend their winning streak to six games.
Led by senior guard Jake Reid’s 16 points, Gibbons survived by staying composed even when its lead dwindled, and by making free throws down the stretch.
According to Ryan, coaches can’t be too picky whenever their team picks up a win away from home in conference play this late in the season.
“Any win on the road is great. I’m not going to give it back,” Ryan said. “I thought we needed to execute better down the stretch. We’re doing better now, but we still need to execute better.”
In the evening’s opener, the Jordan girls’ team won its fourth straight PAC-6 Conference game by using a dominant second quarter to top the Crusaders 54-50.
Coach Ty Cox’s Jordan team (15-5, 7-3) provided a glimpse of what they can look like when playing at their full potential during the second quarter against Gibbons (13-7, 5-4).
Trailing 14-13 after the opening eight minutes, the Falcons completely changed the course of the game, and took an 18-point lead into halftime after outscoring the Crusaders 22-3 in the second quarter.
“We made shots, and we didn’t foul. I just thought that we played a really solid Jordan Lady Falcon brand of basketball,” Cox said of his team’s play in the second quarter.
Playing with a purpose, Jordan separated itself from Gibbons by winning the turnover battle, crashing the boards and getting to the free throw line.
Forcing the Crusaders to play at an uncomfortably fast pace, Jordan consistently turned turnovers into transition points, and the trio of post players Talia Barnes, Ni’amoni Bagley and Ashley Roberts had their way inside the paint during the entirety of the second quarter.
Barnes, a senior, led the Falcons in scoring with 19 points, and Bagley and Roberts, both of whom came off the bench, combined for 24 points.
Still, Gibbons did not go down without a fight. After halftime, coach Jessica Lowe’s players took much better care of the basketball, and senior guard Madi Bonello’s prolific 3-point shooting – she finished with 20 points – helped the Crusaders come within four points with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
“She’s consistently been a huge threat for us this year, and tonight we were really fortunate that she got some open looks and made those,” Lowe said.
Ryan’s team was far from perfect at times against Jordan (10-10, 3-7), but Gibbons (16-5, 6-3) proved in its 10-point over the Falcons why it hasn’t lost in over two weeks.
Although they at times struggled to deal with Jordan’s size and athleticism, the Crusaders for the most part dictated the pace of play, and played a composed and measured brand of basketball.
After leading by two points following the opening quarter, Gibbons took a double-digit lead into halftime because of their ability to remain patient in its half court offense, which often led to high-percentage shots.
The bulk of Reid’s 16 points came from shots close to the rim are at the foul line, while several of his teammates helped carry the load, too.
In addition to Reid, four other Crusaders scored at least five points, and sophomore small forward Michael Walsh and senior small forward Kevin Edwards were also consistent on the offensive end of the floor, combining for 21 points.
As Jordan coach Kim Annas said of Gibbons, “They don’t beat themselves.”
Even still, Jordan looked capable of ending Gibbons’ winning ways.
Despite trailing by as many as 13 points in the first half, Jordan came within two on multiple occasions as its defensive intensity increased as the game went on. That, coupled with an increased focus on attacking the rim, nearly helped Jordan pull off a comeback.
“It was a good high school game. It’s just unfortunate we didn’t win,” Annas said.
Senior center Taqwain Bell led the Falcons with 14 points.