By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
One of coach Lynn Elkins’ biggest fears was how his Mortimer Jordan team would face the up-tempo pressure that Parker nearly always brings.
The Blue Devils handled it well — but couldn’t shoot worth a lick, while the Thundering Herd did.
That was basically the difference in a 54-42 win for Parker in Friday’s Class 5A boys sub-regional playoff game.
The Bison hit 62 percent from the floor, and 74 percent at the foul line. Jordan was 16-of-48 from the floor and 3-of-9 from the foul line, for 33 percent in both categories.
“Going into this game, we asked out kids to rebound well, and they scrapped on the boards,” Elkins said. “And we got them out of the press, and we did. The last thing we had to do was shoot the ball, and we didn’t. We had some looks, but give credit to Parker for some good defense, good enough to win the game.”
The Herd started out fast, jumping out to a quick 11-3 lead before Elkins called time out to get his team back together. Moments later, the Devils had closed back, and Parker’s lead was cut to 15-13.
But that’s when the shooting started to go cold for Jordan, and the Bison took advantage by running out to an 11-point margin at halftime.
Jordan came out of the break with a quick 3-pointer by Seth Barnett and a bucket off a steal by point guard Mark Louis that quickly trimmed the deficit to six points, but that’s as close as the Devils got for the rest of the night.
Parker stretched the lead out a bit, and then started to play keep-away to run out some clock late in the third quarter. They stayed with that tactic on into the fourth period, eventually forcing the Devils to foul.
Those fouls had two effects: Jordan lost center Ben Hardiman and forward Orion Recke on foul-outs, and the Herd was deadly accurate at the charity stripe. Parker was 14-of-16 in the last five minutes of the game, include a streak of 10 straight free throws.
That proved to be an advantage that the hosts simply couldn’t overcome, even when Louis started to heat up from 3-point land late. Louis was 6-of-9 from beyond the arc, with four treys in the fourth quarter, but only hit one of his six attempts when he attempted to drive into the lane. He finished with 20 points in his final game for the Devils.
“We couldn’t get over the hump,” Elkins said. “We’d get down six, eight or 10, and then they’d pull away. They [Parker] did what they needed to do, and if you do that, you’d better knock down free throws. And they did. But we weren’t afraid of Parker.”
Hardiman and Recke had only 10 points between them, though, and none at all in the fourth period.
Marquell Oliver led the Bison with 15 points, most of those in the final quarter when he went 7-of-8 at the foul line; he also grabbed nine rebounds. Bryant Gray added 13 points.
Jordan ends with a 22-7 record, and according to former coach and principal Jimmie Trotter — who’s been around the school since the 1950s — it’s the most wins a Blue Devil team has ever recorded.