Crusaders wear out their rivals
• Full-speed game, pure athleticism make for state expectations
Two-thirds of the way through the regular season, the Jesuit Crusaders are the state's lone unbeaten boys basketball team. And they plan on keeping it that way.
Using their deep bench and relentless attack, the Crusaders easily pounded rival Beaverton 67-40 Wednesday night before a full house at Jesuit.
Seth and Josh Tarver hit for 17 and 13 points, respectively, and Sergio Jones added 11 as Jesuit improved to 9-0 in Metro League play, 15-0 overall.
The Crusaders' closest game this season has been a five-point victory over Sunset on the Saturday after Winter Storm '04. Their average margin of victory in the tightly contested Metro is 21 points.
'We can play the whole 32 minutes full speed,' says Jones, a junior guard. 'There's teams that can play with us for eight minutes or more, but not the whole 32 minutes. We wear them down.
'The only way we can be beat is if we beat ourselves.'
And they have only four seniors.
Beaverton coach Nick Robertson, whose team is battling for fourth in the Metro League and a state playoff spot, says the Crusaders might be more talented than the team that won the 1999 state championship.
'They're extremely athletic,' Robertson says. 'They might be as good a team as I've seen in a long time. They just keep coming at you.'
Jesuit plays Hillsboro, which reached the state title game last season, on Wednesday.
Jesuit coach Gene Potter is content with how well his team is playing, but he's working to avoid a letdown.
'We are working against the staleness of not getting better,' Potter says. 'That means we have to continue to practice hard.
'There's about a dozen teams in the state that can probably beat anyone on a given night. And it's a lot tougher just to get to the state tournament this year, so we can't let up.'
Teams have to win at least two games just to get to the eight-team state tournament. The tournament had been 16 teams since it started in 1919.
If Jesuit wins the Metro and Jefferson wins the Portland Interscholastic League title, as they are on a path to do, they wouldn't meet in the playoffs until the state final, which will be played in Eugene this year.
Jefferson's 56-53 victory over visiting Lincoln on Tuesday virtually clinched the PIL championship in girls basketball for the Lady Demos. And it made Jefferson's path to the state tournament much less difficult than one that would involve facing the Cardinals.
Jefferson (9-1 PIL), which beat Lincoln in both meetings and split its two-game series with Grant, simply needs to win the rest of its games to claim the league title for the first time in five years.
Jefferson trailed 12-0 and 27-18 at the half. 'I told my teammates we needed to be a lot more aggressive in the second half,' senior Brittney Davis said. 'We weren't going to lose in our house.'
Davis' words helped motivate the rest of the Demos to score. Davis and sophomore Simone Jordan had scored 17 of the team's 18 first-half points, and they combined to score 17 points in the second half. But the rest of the Demos went from one first-half point to scoring 21 in the second half. Junior Shadae Smith scored 10 points in the second half.
In the state playoffs, which lead to the eight-team state tournament, Jefferson's toughest foe might be whichever school is the fourth-place finisher from the Three Rivers League.
If Lincoln (8-2) finishes second in the PIL, it would have to beat the Metro League champion, either Southridge or Jesuit, on the way to the tourney. Grant and Franklin also are fighting for second in the PIL.
'We knew that coming in, so we were fighting extra hard to win,' Lincoln sophomore Lauren Greif said. 'But, that's how it goes. We'll just have to win whatever game comes at us in the playoffs.
'When we play well, we think we can beat any team in the state. Oregon City would have to have an off night, but we think we could beat them.'
Lincoln's athletic ability is significantly improved from past seasons. The Cardinals' play used to be more half-court oriented, but the arrival of Greif and sophomore Hannah Oken-Berg, a mobile 6-2 post, have enabled the team to attack opponents in transition.
'We run a lot more this year,' Oken-Berg said. 'We're definitely more athletic.'
Jefferson's Milt Adams is mulling over whether this will be his last season as a girls basketball coach after 31 years. One thing he is happy to see is the growing ranks of quality female coaches within the sport.
'When I look around and see coaches like Velaida Harris at Lincoln, Kathy Adelman Naro at Jesuit, Heather Roberts at Lakeridge and Sandy Dickerson at Central Catholic, that does me good,' Adams said. 'Women coaches have come a long way since girls basketball began in this state. And they're not just women who coach, they're really quality teams and they can whip out the strategy. That's great to see.'