Jalon Moore

Gardendale junior Jalon Moore hangs on the rim with two hands during a 19-point performance agains Mortimer Jordan on Jan. 24, 2020. 

In the season’s final installment of this crosstown rivalry, Gardendale and Mortimer Jordan split the two-game varsity schedule on Friday night in Gardendale.

Mortimer Jordan dominated the girls game 73-30 and Gardendale controlled the boys game to the tune of 75-57.

In the nightcap, Gardendale found its offense down low and managed to create a couple runs that essentially put the game away. One such run came in the second quarter when point guard Kameron Burkett sparked an 11-point swing.

It all started when Will “Goose” Crowder drove inside and kicked it to the top of the key where Burkett buried his first of two 3-pointers. The senior would slash inside for two more buckets as Mortimer Jordan’s 19-16 first-quarter lead became a 27-19 deficit midway through the second. Gardendale went to the half with a 36-26 advantage.

The Rockets later opened the third frame on a 9-2 run, punctuated by Alex Gilleylen’s interception return for a layup to extend the lead to 45-28. Mortimer Jordan swung back with the team’s sixth triple of the game, but Gardendale junior Jalon Moore answered with two thunderous dunks that sent the GHS student section into a frenzy.

The first came on a transition alley-oop from Burkett, and the second he did all on his own—a two-handed flush that put his team on top 54-33 late in the third.

“We’ve got chemistry with the alley-oop. We’ve developed that in the two years that we’ve been together and if he sees me running down the court, I know he’s going to throw the alley-oop,” said Moore of his relationship with Burkett. “Once I got the dunk I kind of got momentum, so that made me go harder to the rim.”

Moore finished the game with 19 points to go with 17 more from Burkett.

“This was a good team win and a good show for the fans,” added Moore.

For Mortimer Jordan, it was a sophomore class that scored 37 of the team’s 57 points. Senior Nolan Dean, who started things off with back-to-back 3-pointers in the opening minutes, led the way with 15 points while sophomores Aaron Devine and Caleb Speights chipped in with 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Following the game, Gardendale head coach Trent Hosmer pointed out the lively crowd which filled the seats on Friday night.

“You would be hard-pressed to find many better atmospheres than these Gardendale-Jordan games,” said Hosmer. “As a guy in his second year in it, it’s pretty awesome at both places and I appreciate our crowd for coming out. Our kids definitely feed off of it.”

In the varsity opener, Mortimer Jordan’s girls delivered a barrage of 3-point shooting on their way to a 73-30 road win.

“We’ve never shot that well down here [at Gardendale],” said Mortimer Jordan head coach Kelly Robinson. “This is my fourth year here and we haven’t scored over 40 points in a regulation game down here.”

On Friday night, his girls connected 12 times from beyond the arc—seven of which came off the hand of freshman Sarah Kanaday, who finished with a game-high 21 points. Kanaday knocked down three of those shots in the first quarter as her team built an 18-6 advantage.

She cooled off in the middle minutes, but that wouldn’t stop the visitors from scoring. The Blue Devils (18-9, 8-0) started the second half on a 16-0 run, built by defense and a collection of offensive weapons.

Senior MacKynzie Watson, the day after committing to Birmingham Southern College, started the third quarter with a quick five points on a drive inside and a 3-pointer from straight on. Point guard Bellah Machen helped out along with Jaylen Pleasant and Jasmyn Allen to stretch the lead to 49-12 with 5:16 remaining in the third.

Robinson credited the 16-0 run to one simple thing: shotmaking.

“We made shots. 16-0 runs are easy when you make shots,” said Robinson. “We didn’t really do anything different, the ball just went in the basket.”

Machine went for 16 points in the win and Pleasant added 15 more for the Blue Devils. Gardendale’s offense ran through junior Sarah Beth Brake, who finished with 17 points.

In other high school basketball action, the Gardendale boys on Thursday locked up at least a share of the Class 6A, Area 11 regular season title with a 69-45 home win over Carver-Birmingham. The Rockets were led in scoring by Clayton Cunningham with 20 and Moore with 16.

The area tournament host remains undetermined as Minor (15-8, 3-1) still has a league game with Carver-Birmingham scheduled for next Tuesday. If the Tigers win that game, they will flip a coin with Gardendale to determine who hosts the tournament. A Minor loss would give GHS the nod.

In Thursday’s early contest, the Gardendale girls (0-16, 0-6) dropped their Class 6A, Area 11 finale 92-27 to Carver-Birmingham.

The Fultondale boys (7-9, 2-4) beat rival Tarrant on Thursday in overtime 64-61. Senior Willie Smith slashed his way to 28 points while Josh Maston returned from injury with 18 points on the road.

The Fultondale girls (10-8, 2-2) also scored a rivalry win on Thursday, beating Tarrant 52-30.

Class 6A, Area 12 play came to an end on Thursday night when No. 1 Pinson Valley (22-3, 4-0) beat Pell City 92-53. Kam Woods had another big night with 35 points and three steals. GaQuincy “Cool-Aid” McKinstry handed out five assists and scored 18 points to go with a double-double (17 points and 11 rebounds) from Camron Scott.

The Tabernacle Christian boys on Friday slipped to 1-2 at the BJU Invitational Tournament in South Carolina.

After splitting their first two games on Wednesday and Thursday, the Torches fell by a count of 65-52 to Lebanon Christian (Pa.) on Friday. Much of Tabernacle’s offense came from Tyler Andrews who finished with 22 points and Drew Peters who finished with 18. 

The Corner girls beat Fayette County 39-33 on Friday night at home. Freshman Jessica Shubert pulled down 10 boards and scored eight points for the Jackets while Payton Cox went for nine points and five rebounds, Lauren Higginbotham grabbed eight rebounds and scored nine points, and Madeline Henson led the way with 11 points. 

Erik Harris is the sports editor for The North Jefferson News. He can be reached at sports@njeffersonnews.com

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