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Jeff girls avenge loss with tenacious defense

Jefferson's '32 minutes of hell' defense rolled up another victim last week.

The Democrats harassed Wilson into 42 turnovers and gained the Portland Interscholastic League girls basketball lead with a 58-42 victory. Jeff avenged its only loss this season, and Wilson, the defending league champion, lost a PIL game for the first time in almost two years.

'We wanted this game,' said Jeff's 5-foot sophomore guard Jequala Warren, who constantly got a hand on Wilson passes. 'We upped our energy for this game. Not too many teams can handle our press; that's one of the things that drives us.'

Jefferson (15-1, 9-1 PIL) travels to Benson (10-6, 7-3) at 7:30 tonight. The Demos will be looking for their 14th straight win, and Benson will be starting a three-game stretch that includes Lincoln and Grant.

Benson, Lincoln and Grant are tied for third in the PIL. Only four teams advance to the state playoffs.

With Jefferson and Wilson having split their season series, they could meet again for the league

title Feb. 21 or Feb. 22 if both win their remaining eight games.

'We're ready for that if it happens,' Warren said. 'We're always ready to play a good team.'

Jefferson coach Milt Adams asked former standout Erica Mashia, the state player of the year in 1995, to speak to his troops Friday, and he felt that motivated his players. Mashia, who played at Southern Cal and now works at Self Enhancement Inc., spoke to the Demos about how they could reach the collegiate level.

'They all seemed to light up to the things she told them,' Adams said of his players, all of whom are 5-8 or shorter. 'We've had 34 players who have played at least one season at a college level, so they know it's possible.'

Senior Nicole Nelson and juniors Brittney Davis and Brookielle Boddie all scored in double figures for Jeff in the Wilson game.

The Demos held Wilson senior Jessie Shetters, who is 6-6, to just five field-goal attempts (she made four) and 13 points. Wilson coach Rick Earl, frustrated by his team's play, resorted to moving freshman forward Whitney Barton up from the junior varsity in the second half, and she scored six points.

'We didn't put up a very good effort,' Earl said. 'We weren't aggressive and didn't challenge them, which is how we've been practicing this week. Hopefully, we'll be able to bounce back from this, but that's the big question when you come out of a big loss, did you learn anything from it?'

Wilson plays Cleveland and Marshall this week.

The unofficial 'community moment' at Friday's game happened between the third and fourth quarters, when Jefferson parents chanted, 'We've got spirit, yes we do É' and got no response from the Wilson crowd. That prompted one of the Jefferson fans to yell out, 'Hey, you're supposed to answer back,' which drew a laugh and seemed to relax the Wilson fans.

MORE HOOPS: Benson's boys are the focus of the league this week with games at Jefferson tonight and at home against Lincoln on Friday. All three teams have been ranked in the state's top 10 since the beginning of the season. Benson will be looking to avenge a 65-64 loss to Lincoln.

Since losing to Roosevelt on Jan. 10, Jefferson has won five games by an average of 29 points.

Cleveland finally broke free of its struggle to beat good teams when the Warriors handed fading Roosevelt an 82-57 setback Friday. Cleveland, which had lost the night before in overtime at Benson, 62-59, plays host to Lincoln next Tuesday.

Madison's girls had the comeback of the week, erasing an eight-point deficit with a 13-3 fourth quarter to beat Marshall 37-34 on Thursday. That gave the Senators two wins in three games. Sophomore Joyce Oniah has led the team in scoring in four straight games.

WRESTLING: The PIL's remaining unbeaten teams, Cleveland and Madison, meet Wednesday night in a key dual at Madison. Cleveland is coming off a strong finish in its 12-team tournament Saturday, placing second to Westview. Madison handed Benson its first dual loss last week.