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Crusaders power past Apollos in state opener

Jesuit strikes fast and keeps its early lead throughout its win


PORTLAND — The calendar said March.

The location said Portland.

But the match-up said good old Metro League battle when Jesuit and Sunset’s boys squared off in the quarterfinals of the Class 6A state basketball tournament at the Rose Garden on March 6. And for the third time this year, the Crusaders held the upper hand against the Apollos, racing past Sunset 68-50 and into the state semifinals.by: MILES VANCE - ROUND ONE - Jesuit's Xavier Coleman flies past Sunset's Joe McFerrin and Daniel Duitsman.

Second-ranked Jesuit went on to lose its semifinal game against Central Catholic, then lost again to Lake Oswego on Saturday to finish fifth overall with a season record of 24-4.

“Me, Sean (Milligan) and Khyan (Rayner) and pretty experienced here at the Garden so we just focused on getting the younger guys to calm down, not let the nerves get the best of them,” said Jesuit senior guard Xavier Coleman, who scored 17 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had four assists. “We knew our zone offense was going to get us open shots; it was just a matter of us making them.”

“We had a long time to prepare and we knew Sunset well,” said Rayner, who led his team with 18 points and 10 rebounds. “Coach came out with a great game plan to go against that zone from the beginning, and once we got them out of it, I think we really got to them.”

No. 10 Sunset, meanwhile, rebounded to beat South Medford on Friday, then fell to Southridge on Saturday and placed sixth at state with a final season record of 17-12. For more on Sunset’s other two games, please see the stories on Pages A12 and A8.

“It was definitely an opportunity, an opportunity to knock off a four-time state champion,” said Sunset junior Jeff Bieber, who had four points and eight rebounds in the loss. “It was a great opportunity. We just didn’t capitalize.”

“Our shots didn’t go down and we didn’t rebound,” added Sunset senior Michael Kerns. “We came out a little tentative and they jumped on us early.”

Indeed they did. Jesuit blasted out to a 16-4 lead in the first four minutes of the contest, that stretch highlighted by two Coleman baskets and three more by Rayner (including two three-pointers), the second off a Coleman pass for that 16-4 edge with 4:01 left in the first quarter.

Sunset’s Tyler Gutierrez came back with five points in less than two minutes to bring his team within 18-10, but Jesuit’s Daniel Nelson sank a jumpshot in the final minute of the period to push the Crusader lead to 20-10.

The Apollos cut Jesuit’s margin to seven points twice early in the second period — first at 20-13 when Daniel Duitsman drilled a three-pointer and again at 22-15 on a Joe McFerrin jumpshot — before the Crusaders began to pull away again.

This time, Jesuit put together a 10-0 run to make it 32-15, starting that stretch with three-pointers by both Rayner and Coleman. Next, they added a Milligan jumpshot and a Cooper Sprunk hoop for that 17-point edge with 4:08 left in the half.

Sunset cut the gap to 34-23 on a Tucker Hutchinson basket in the final minute, but had to settle for a 37-24 deficit at the break after Rayner hit one free throw with 19 seconds left in the half.

Jesuit built its lead as high as 20 points in the third quarter — at 46-26 on a three-point play by Coleman midway through the period — and Sunset got no closer than 15, the last time at 52-38 when McFerrin buried a three-pointer right before the end of the frame.

Duitsman knocked down a jumpshot one minute into the fourth to bring his team within 12 points at 55-43, but Jesuit’s Henry Mondeaux hit two jumpshots and scored five points in just 40 seconds to boost his team’s lead back to 62-43 with 5:27 left and helped seal his team’s victory.

“Having seen them twice already this year and knowing what they run, we were kind of ready for that,” Coleman said. “And we stepped up and hit open shots and that was the key to the game.”

“We know Sunset really well and I think that helped the younger guys,” Rayner said. “A lot of guys played well. It was a great team effort.”

“This was a tough one,” Kerns added. “They really attack, they can shoot the ball and they play great team defense. They’re just a very good team overall.”

Gutierrez led Sunset with 17 points, eight rebounds, two assists and three blocks, Duitsman scored nine points on 4-of-5 shooting, and McFerrin had eight points. Milligan and Mondeaux had nine each for the Crusaders, Mondeaux with six rebounds as well.

To see a complete photo gallery from this game, please go to milesvance.exposuremanager.com.




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