TAZEWELL, Va. —
Mystery made history.
Jalen Jordan, who came in the game with 984 points, had no idea as his coaches and teammates somehow kept the total a secret, and was as surprised as anyone in the crowd when he scored his 1,000th point for Tazewell as the Bulldogs topped Richlands 72-56 in Southwest District quarterfinal tournament play.
Jordan finished with 31 points to lead the Bulldogs (8-14) to victory, along with some spectacular defense by Noah Walker.
Tazewell will now take on regular season SWD champion Carroll County at Hillsville Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Richlands finished its season, losing to the Dogs for the third time this year, despite outstanding efforts from Gabe Hunsaker and Ben Brown.
Still, the night belong to No. 20, who became the first boys’ player at THS to hit four figures since Stanley Bowles turned the trick at Richlands almost 20 seasons earlier.
Jordan’s historic bucket came with 2:29 remaining in the second stanza. After an 8-point first quarter, halfway to the magic number, Jordan continued his steady assault with another 8-spot in the second quarter to join the elite scoring section.
Jordan, a 6-1 senior playing his final game at home, finished with a flurry and has 1, 015 for his career. He added four steal and six rebounds, with an 8-of-9 effort at the foul line.
In the opening quarter, the Blue Tornado refused to go quietly, rallying behind the play of Hunsaker and J. T. Anderson to grab and hold the lead.
The Blues moved in front by five, on Hunsaker’s trey, while Anderson blocked a shot and scored a basket inside to help keep RHS in control as they led 12-10 after the opening period.
Hunsaker, who sparkled all evening for the Blue Tornado in his final high school game, led Richlands with 23 points. He picked up a pair of three-pointers in the opening quarter when Richlands played most impressively.
“My teammates passed the ball to me and trusted and I wanted to do my best. I tried to get some good looks, get the shots off, and make ’em. We got some to fall but just not enough. I gave my best effort,” said an emotional Hunsaker after the game.
Meanwhile, Jordan, his brother, Juwan, and Walker paced the Dogs, who just kept up the pressure and eventually grabbed the lead with a 26-point burst in the second quarter.
Jordan had a pair of steals in the second stanza which he took the length of the court en route to buckets before being fouled as he moved in toward the bucket with just over two minutes to play in the half.
He calmly swished both attempts, and turned to see the crowd standing when the clock stopped and his teammates and coaches met him on the court.
“I had no idea,” laughed Jordan. “Coach (William) Lester, who keeps the stats, did a good job of hiding the numbers from me all year.”
“When I heard the noise, I thought Coach (Lee) Walker was maybe going to take me out before the half and then I finally heard the noise and I knew it then. Overall, thought, tonight, I tried to help crash the boards and work with Noah. He’s been doing that by himself all year and it was good to be able to step in there with him.”
Walker had another monster game for the Bulldogs. The 6-5 junior pumped in 15 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, blocked seven shots — including four off the glass — and had four steals for THS, plus hitting 7-of-9 at the line.
His best defensive play of the year, perhaps, came with his acrobatic swat at the end of the first quarter.
“I don’t know what to say about that,” laughed Walker, who crashed through in a giant leap from the free throw line to pin the ball off the glass, “but I don’t think it was a clean block. I’ll take it, though, because it’s defense that wins ball games.”
“Jalen got his 1,000th point — it’s great to be a part of that seeing my teammate, he’s like a brother, have that happen here at home.”
Colin Hancock had three treys in the opening half for the Dogs including a dazzling downtowner over two defenders from the corner edge as the second quarter buzzer sounded.
Tazewell maintained its edge with quick defense and steady scoring to keep pulling away after halftime.
Richlands coach Jody Fuller said, “My guys did well, especially in that first half. They knocked down some big shots. It seemed like 5-6 more shots, went up, hit the net, and dropped away, though.
“We came into this game with three wins but my players came into this game swinging against a team that had beaten them twice by 20, with the intention of winning tonight. I can’t say anything more than that. I am proud of every play on our team for their effort.”
Ben Brown notched 8 steals and dropped in 7 points for the Blues.
He added, “We tried to play good defense, contain them (Tazewell) more and we did a good job of that in the first half. We kind of let them get away from us in the third quarter.”
Tazewell got points from eight different players, and Juwan Jordan added 9 for THS.
Bulldogs coach Lee Walker said, “We’re glad to win and move forward in the tournament. I’m proud of Jalen and happy he got 1,000 here at home. Noah had a good game and now we all have to prepare to play the number one team in the district on their court in two days. We’ll enjoy this tonight and get back to working hard in practice tomorrow.”
Richlands finished with an 11-of-14 effort at the line, while Tazewell had its best night of the year with free throw shooting percentage in an 18-for-21 effort.
At Tazewell Middle School
Kyle Call 2, Trent Davis 2, Mark Sayhouni 7, J.T. Anderson 6, Ben Brown 7, Zach Johnson 5, Evan Meadows 3, Gabe Hunsaker 23, Will Moir 1.
Jalen Jordan 31, Christian Lewis 2, Tanner Catron 2, Colin Hancock 9, Juwan Jordan 9, Jessee Mountain 2, Noah Walker 15, Isaac Santana 2.
Richlands..........12 18 14 12 — 56
Tazewell............10 26 26 10 — 72
Three-point goals – RIC 5 (Hunsaker 3, Sayhouni 1, Brown 1). TAZ 4 (Hancock 3, Jalen Jordan 1). Fouled out – none.