They came like a flood.
Jordan’s elbow jumper as the buzzer sounded lifted Little Rock Mills over Southside in overtime, 49-48.
There were few moments Friday between Mills and Southside when the flows were greater than the ebbs. It wasn’t physical to the point of being brutal, but it was plenty rugged. The game’s rare exchange minus a whistle at the end is all that mattered.
Jordan’s buzzer-beater came only about seven seconds after Southside’s Reese Strickland knocked down a shot of his own — a 3-pointer from the wing — to put Southside ahead by one point with time running short.
Jordan took a jab-step toward the paint, rose above his defender and delivered a calm, clean finishing blow.
“Had a little too much time left on the clock,” Southside coach Charles Cooper said. “They hit a big shot. We had a guy there in his face, but to credit them, they stepped up and hit a big jumper.”
It nearly never made it that far.
Mills forward Justin Glover grabbed the rebound of a missed Southside layup with only seconds left in regulation and took off for his hoop, nearly unguarded. Glover had a clear path to the rim for a potential game-winning layup if only he could get his shot away in time.
He was bound to do so, too, before Southside’s John Hunton wrapped Glover in a bear hug from behind just as the buzzer sounded. The crowd initially groaned, thinking it was going to be an intentional foul, sending Glover to the line in a tie game with no time left. But the officials called it a personal foul and Southside was pardoned.
“Give Southside credit. Coach Cooper did a great job. They were prepared, mentally tough, physically tough,” Mills coach Raymond Cooper said. “They played hard all night long and they were extremely physical. That’s what you want your team to be. Our guys played through it, stayed tough to the end and fought their way through it.”
Every time Mills (5-5) looked to be gaining control, the nasty foul problem would appear.
The Comets led by 10 points midway through the third quarter until four Mills fouls led to seven straight Rebels points from the free-throw line. The Comets also jumped out to a quick start in overtime, going up by four after two possessions apiece.
A pair of fouls later, they found themselves trailing by one.
Frustrated and even a bit angry, Raymond Cooper had exhausted his timeouts well before Strickland’s 3 put Southside ahead in the waning moments. Regardless, he wouldn’t have bothered, the coach said.
“I would have let them play because we don’t do a very good job of executing when I draw something up, anyway,” he said. “Court was open, both teams were kind of tired at the end, so I say let’s go down there and make a play. Let’s play through it and hope something good happens.”
Mitchell Spradlin was the only Southside player to score in double figures, finishing with 11 points. Devin Campbell led Mills with 17 and Brandon Hansberry added 13.
Southside (3-8) has been short on the pretty performances this year, so the Rebels needed an ugly game with effort, regardless of the result. Charles Cooper was glad his team obliged.
“One of the things we have been really concerned with is the intensity the players have been playing with,” he said. “I thought the kids really picked it up tonight. I was proud of the way we battled. I think it paid off in this ballgame.
“It was an intense ballgame and a very physical ballgame. The rest of the games we play the rest of the season in the Central conference are going to be like that.”
High School Basketball
Little Rock Mills 49
Southside 48 (OT)
Mills 9 16 6 7 11 — 49
Southside 8 11 10 9 10 — 48
Mills: Campbell 17, Hansberry 13, Jordan 7, Avance 6, Jordan 7, Sample 2, Williams 2, Glover 2