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Penn Wood falls in OT on Jones’ buzzer-beating three

LOWER MERION >> Terrell Jones knew why he didn’t start Friday’s District One Class AAAA first-round game.

The Lower Merion forward may not have understood but accepted why he played sparingly in the third quarter. And he couldn’t recall how many shots he’d taken in his unusually disjointed time on the court.

Penn Wood’s Javon Lindsey-Terell soars high for two of his 19 points. The junior guard hit a go-ahead basket in overtime before Lower Merion stole the win with a 3-pointer at the buzzer. (Digital First Media/Robert J. Gurecki)

Penn Wood’s Javon Lindsey-Terell soars high for two of his 19 points. The junior guard hit a go-ahead basket in overtime before Lower Merion stole the win with a 3-pointer at the buzzer. (Digital First Media/Robert J. Gurecki)

But by the time the ball found its way unsteadily into his hands on an inbounds with 6.7 seconds left in overtime, none of that mattered.

Jones nailed a 28-footer from the top of the key with 2.2 seconds to play, leading No. 11 Lower Merion to a 68-66 win over No. 22 Penn Wood.

Jones’ basket followed Penn Wood’s bid for a game-winner with 17 seconds to play, Kairi Jones driving the lane and dishing to Javon Lindsey-Terrell for the lay-in.

Even in the victory sequence, not everything went to plan for Terrell Jones. Penn Wood’s token pressure in the backcourt was enough to send the Aces scrambling, as it had been most of the game, and Jones called a timeout an instant before sliding on the seat of his pants for what could’ve been a travel with 6.7 ticks remaining.

Down 1 on the out-of-bounds, the play was designed for Jones to receive the ball on the wing, get to the basket and either earn a trip to the line or dish to a teammate. But Penn Wood’s 1-3-1 zone look foiled that, nudging Jones to gain possession unsteadily from Steve Payne near midcourt, take one gawky dribble and heave an off-balance triple that hit nothing but net.

“Personally, I always want to take the last shot,” Jones said. “That’s just my confidence. I wouldn’t mind other people taking the last shot, but as a player, I would like to take that shot. … I saw the opportunity and I took it.”

“We came out of man to try to switch them out of what they were doing, and he just hit a big shot,” Penn Wood guard Kairi Jones said. “I don’t know what else we could’ve done. We defended it as well as we could, and he hit a big shot.”

Terrell Jones’ confidence was unshaken by a benching in the first half for what coach Gregg Downer called “some team disciplinary issues” and that Jones readily owned up to. His self-esteem weathered a third quarter when Lower Merion went small, again leaving Jones a spectator.

Without Jones from the get-go, Lower Merion (16-7) still assumed early control. They led by eight in the second quarter before Penn Wood’s press turned the screws on the way to forcing 20 turnovers.

The full-court pressure was the catalyst, and Lindsey-Terrell was the beneficiary. He scored 14 of his 19 points in the second quarter, including a four-point play that keyed a 21-8 run and sent the Patriots into half ahead, 35-30.

That’s when the locker-room cat-and-mouse intensified. Lower Merion big man Jeremy Horn scored 11 first-half points and helped the Aces dominate the glass, in the process tagging each member of Penn Wood’s three-forward rotation with two fouls. But in need of extra ballhandlers, Downer confined Horn to the bench for almost the entire second half, shifting Dion Harris (17 points) to the center and adding an extra guard in freshman Steve Payne. There also was no room in that lineup for Jones, who didn’t attempt a field goal in the second half and had just two points, both from the line, in regulation.

“It was hard, but our team was winning, so I just had to cheer my team on and show good sportsmanship and be a good teammate,” Jones said.

Penn Wood's Kairi Jones skies over Lower Merion's Zach Magill Friday night. Jones scored 19 points, but the Patriots dropped a 68-66 decision in overtime in the first round of the District One Class AAAA Tournament. (Digital First Media/Robert J. Gurecki)

Penn Wood’s Kairi Jones skies over Lower Merion’s Zach Magill Friday night. Jones scored 19 points, but the Patriots dropped a 68-66 decision in overtime in the first round of the District One Class AAAA Tournament. (Digital First Media/Robert J. Gurecki)

Payne’s poise beyond his years steadied the Aces, supplying eight points, six rebounds, three assists and a clot to slow the Aces hemorrhaging turnovers.

“He really stepped up in this game,” said point guard KJ Helton, who scored 12 points to go with 10 rebounds and six assists. “A lot of other freshmen would’ve cracked, but he stepped up. He came in and played his butt off.”

With Payne, the Aces flipped the five-point deficit to a five-point lead in eight minutes. But Penn Wood (12-11) wasn’t done.

Kairi Jones took over in the final frame, scoring 10 of his 19, including back-to-back and-ones late on. Vincent Smalls, who tallied 14 points and eight boards in reasserting Penn Wood’s rebounding might sans Horn, banked home a third-chance deuce with just under three minutes left, and Lindsey-Terrell dished to Kairi Jones for the game-tying bucket with 2:25 to play.

After a little clock-eating, Smalls held his ground to deny Payne at the other end, and Kairi Jones drove for the last shot before being rejected by Harris to send the game to overtime.

In that extra period, Penn Wood missed four shots inside of five feet. Helton hit a free throw to push them ahead, and Jones cashed in on a one-and-one. Smalls got Penn Wood to within one before Lindsey-Terrell sent them ahead off glass.

“I was going to shoot the shot, but I saw him come out of the corner and I dumped it down to him and gave him a layup,” Kairi Jones said. “It was probably the best play I think I made all night.”

That set up Terrell Jones, who scored seven of his nine points in OT, for his star turn, on just his third shot attempt of what for most would’ve been an unconquerably frustrating night.

“It was either going to be Jones or Helton,” Downer said, “and he happened to get it there, and thank god he made the shot.”

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