There wasn’t any love lost between Jordan-Matthews and Cummings in Friday night’s varsity double header.
Starting with the Jordan-Matthews girls coming back from down double digits in a chippy 38-36 win, the night ended with a fight amongst fans, resulting in clear stands and a suspended boys game.
Jordan-Matthews’ boys trailed Cummings, 50-57, with 4:54 remaining in the fourth quarter when what appeared to be an argument between two fans, a man and a woman, turned into widespread commotion.
Dozens of fans and Chatham County student resource officers jumped in to help separate the two. After the man, who the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office identified as Jamari Amir Jones, 18, was pulled near the exit doors on the opposite end of the court, he charged back towards the start of the fight and knocked over Jordan-Matthews principal April Burko before bystanders and SROs once again led him out of the gym.
The boys game was suspended, and it will be finished at Jordan-Matthews on Feb. 12 at 4:30 p.m.
The Sheriff’s Office said in a statement released Tuesday that Jones is facing charges of assault on a school employee and disorderly conduct. The investigation into the fight is ongoing and may result in further charges, according the Sheriff’s Office.
“It is regrettable that such incidents occur within the context of a school event,” Chatham County Sheriff Mike Roberson said in a statement. “Our priority is the safety of everyone involved, and we will take necessary actions to ensure those responsible are held accountable.”
The recent hostility between Jordan-Matthews and Cummings actually started brewing in December when the two teams first met this season. A fight broke out between the players in the girls game, causing a suspension in play, and Jordan-Matthews won, 40-37, on a later date.
Ironically, a scuffle between players at the end of junior varsity boys game set the tone before the girls took the floor for a scrappy, emotional rematch Friday.
Jordan-Matthews senior Lia Carter led the way with five points to boost the Jets to a 10-9 lead after the first quarter. But in the following quarter, Cummings turned up its defensive pressure and converted on the other end to build a 23-13 lead at the break.
The Jets struggled to produce offense through Cummings’ full-court press, committing numerous turnovers while also missing open shots. Foul trouble also hurt the Jets early on, especially when Cummings drove to the paint.
“The message (at halftime) was we’re beating our own selves,” Jordan-Matthews head coach Lamont Piggie said. “But we can come back and win this game. We take it one possession at a time, play together as a team, we’ll definitely get the win.”
Coming out of the break, shots began to fall for the Jets. With the help of some stellar offensive rebounding from senior Reagan Smith and freshman Jada Scott, Jordan-Matthews grabbed plenty of opportunities to chip the deficit down to just two going into the fourth quarter.
A mid-range bucket from senior Brooklin Quee tied the game at 28 early in the fourth, and an aggressive drive with an and-one opportunity from Carter gave the Jets their first lead since the first quarter.
“I was really, really excited,” Carter said. “I was happy because I know that if I scored that, it would make my teammates go crazy and start scoring their points.”
From that point, the two teams went back and forth to the finish line, a stretch that brought more drama on the court. While celebrating a Cummings mistake with spirited claps in the direction of a Cummings player, Carter picked up a simultaneous second technical and fifth personal foul, resulting in her exit from the game.
The Jets didn’t fold with their senior leader on the bench, however. With Smith continuing to put in work on the offensive boards and some of the underclassmen, such as freshman Yamilet Lozano, making key shots, Jordan-Matthews completed the comeback and snapped a four-game losing streak.
“We fought together,” Piggie said. “We needed this win. We’ve been on a four-game losing streak, so it’s good to come back and get a win in the win column. Very proud of the girls.”
As for the boys game, Jordan-Matthews also found itself in a back and forth battle. Junior Brennen Oldham, who only needed 19 points to reach 1000 in his career, started off the game playing aggressive on both ends.
He might’ve been too aggressive on the defensive end, however, as a couple of fouls while contesting shots at the rim put him in foul trouble early. Freshman Zaeon Auguste ended up leading the team in scoring in the first half with eight points, and the Jets held a 31-28 lead at the break.
In the second half, Jordan-Matthews had no problem feeding Oldham down low as he produced mainly from the free throw line after getting fouled in the paint numerous times. But, with him having to scale back the intensity on defense, the Jets found trouble keeping Cummings out of the paint and away from its own offensive boards.
Cummings found an offensive groove going into the fourth quarter and maintained a small lead before the game was suspended.
Unfortunately for Oldham, he was just two points away from reaching his anticipated milestone in front of a home crowd when the game was cut short.