Just like Mike, Central finds a way past Jesuit
Central Catholic's football team got an assist from Michael Jordan in its quest for state playoff success against Jesuit.
The Rams, 0-3 in games against Jesuit the last three seasons, watched a 10-minute video of the 1991 Chicago Bulls, which featured Jordan. The video focused on how the Bulls finally were able to beat the Detroit Pistons in the NBA's Eastern Conference final after having lost to them the previous two seasons.
Central Catholic's coaches also showed their players a video highlighting Oregon's football victory over Washington in 1994 and had them read stories about Washington State from before and after the Cougars' Nov. 9 victory over Oregon, a team they had struggled to beat.
The Rams then went out and beat Jesuit 42-35 Friday before a crowd of nearly 7,000 at PGE Park to advance to the Class 4A quarterfinals.
'When you realize that even Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Bill Cartwright and all those guys from those great teams went through the same thing we were facing, it makes you feel better,' Central quarterback Ryan Gunderson said. 'We knew we could win, but it just deepened our faith in ourselves.'
Central Catholic will play Friday at Lake Oswego.
The Rams beat Jesuit despite Gunderson's poorest passing performance of the season, 16 of 31 for 166 yards. They won in part because of two 99-yard kickoff returns for touchdowns by senior Nick Miller and three defensive stops in the fourth quarter.
'We knew if we were going to win the state title, we were going to have to play good defense,' Gunderson said. 'And we did that at the right times.'
Jesuit receiver Zach Tarver, a 6-4 junior, dazzled the crowd with three long touchdown catches (68, 54 and 80 yards) that kept the Crusaders in the game.
Tarver said despite his strong play, he's still committed to basketball as his main sport.
'I've been playing basketball for a lot longer than I've played football,' he said. 'That's where my passion is.'
GIRLS SOCCER: Jesuit recovered from a 1-0 deficit to beat Tualatin 2-1 in the Class 4A state final at West Salem High on Saturday, ending what coach Ken Skipper called 'one of the sweeter seasons for me.'
Skipper loaded up his team's defense at the start of the season, and that helped the Crusaders recover from a 1-1-2 start to finish with 15 straight wins and their eighth title in nine years.
Normally, Jesuit plays with four midfielders and three defenders. This season, Skipper reversed that strategy.
Skipper pointed out the play of sisters Kathleen Laughlin, a senior, and Patricia Laughlin, a sophomore, on defense, in aiding senior goalkeeper Kim Parker. The Laughlins, who also ran for the state champion cross country team, combined for 26 assists.
Senior Lindsay Winans led the team with 22 goals this season. Two juniors, Alana Fitz and Emily Michaelson, had key contributions in the playoffs. Fitz scored three of her seven goals in the playoffs, and Michaelson's only two goals of the season were in the playoffs.
Skipper was especially pleased with 'how well everyone came together as a group. To see where we started and where we ended up, this has been a fantastic season.'
CROSS COUNTRY: Central Catholic's Galen Rupp finished third in the fourth annual BorderClash on the Nike campus Sunday, placing one spot ahead of Grant's Alec Wall during the 2.2-mile event. Klamath Union's Lauren Jesperson, whom Rupp edged out at the state meet on Nov. 2, won the race in 13 minutes, 47 seconds.
The next big race for the state's elite boys is the Foot Locker West Regional on Dec. 7 in Walnut, Calif. Rupp finished 25th in that event last year; Wall was 79th.
The Foot Locker national meet is Dec. 14 in San Diego.