Jefferson curse finally lifts for Benson basketball team


Benson's boys basketball team has finally gotten a regular-season win over No. 1 Jefferson.

Now all the Techmen need to get back into the Portland Interscholastic League title race is defeat No. 4 Lincoln tonight on their home floor.

Benson, ranked seventh in the state, dominated much of Tuesday's intense duel with the Demos, taking control of the outcome with a 13-2 run at the end of the second quarter on the way to a 73-67 victory.

The Techmen hadn't beaten Jefferson since winning a tiebreaker game during the 1998-99 season, when both teams tied for the city championship.

Senior Quincy Sanders said the game was much like Benson's season. Six of the Techmen's games have been decided by eight points or less.

'Every game is like this,' Sanders said. 'We just try to stay focused on playing good defense and attacking on offense.

'And we don't worry about who we're playing because they're playing us. We're not playing them.'

Benson (13-2, 7-2 PIL) lost to Lincoln 65-64 on a last-second shot Jan. 10 at Lincoln. The Cardinals (11-4, 8-1) are alone atop the PIL. Lincoln hasn't won the city title in boys basketball since 1964.

Benson pressured Jefferson into 20 turnovers and finished with 16 offensive rebounds, which helped overcome a standout game from Jefferson's Thomas Gardner, who hit 7 of his first 12 shots and finished with 15 points.

Senior Jerae Nelson chipped in with 15 points for Jefferson (10-5, 7-2), which has a home game tonight against Roosevelt. The Roughriders beat Jeff 75-68 on Jan. 10.

'We're a good team, but we need to play more together, and we need to play with more energy,' Nelson said. 'Those are things we need to take to heart because we're not used to losing here.'

MORE JEFF: Jefferson's loss was compounded by the unsportsmanlike actions of its fans in the final two minutes of the game. Several dozen students Ñ then adults, too Ñ simply got up and started leaving while the game was still being contested. Many of them had to walk by the Benson bench, leaving a traffic jam of bodies between Benson's coaches and players and the action on the floor.

Benson senior Tyler Monk said it was distracting.

'Some of the people talk to you on the floor, even to say 'Good game,' and that gets your attention,' he said. 'But you can't take your attention away from a team like Jefferson because they can catch up in a hurry.'

Coupled with other actions of the Democrats' coaches and players in the last 10 months, the mass exodus makes the team look even more like a prep version of the Blazers, without the legal run-ins. The Demos didn't leave their locker room to accept the eighth-place trophy at the state tournament last year, a game in which one of their players very publicly left the bench and headed to the locker room in disgust late in the fourth quarter.

And coach Marshall Haskins has been the subject of constant inquiry after Jefferson's loss to Redmond in the Les Schwab Invitational on Dec. 21. Reports said he harassed referees after the game. It was this that caused him to miss Jefferson's game with Lincoln on Jan. 7 Ñ not illness, as has been reported.

Haskins declined to comment on the Redmond incident and rumored suspension. Greg Ross, PIL athletic director, also declined comment, saying suspensions are private matters handled internally between school and coach or district and coach.

But the fans' actions on Tuesday indicate that people in the Jefferson boys basketball community seem to have the 'win or don't care' mentality firmly entrenched, which may be the unfortunate legacy of the 28-0 state champions from the 1999-2000 season.

Fans of Jeff's girls team do not seem to have this problem.

NOTES: Madison's 36-27 victory over Cleveland on Wednesday has the Senators headed for a 9-0 dual meet record in wrestling for the third time in seven years. É Madison senior Geno Quinones has been nominated to the McDonald's All-American team and will receive a certificate at a pep assembly today at the school. The McDonald's program honors 1,600 basketball players across the country and culminates in an all-star game. Aaron Miles of Jefferson was the McDonald's Player of the Year two seasons ago. É Portland Christian lost its girls basketball duel with No. 2 Knappa last week 54-42, but the Royals are still in good shape to reach the Class 2A state playoffs. É Marshall senior Danny Alexander, a lineman for the school's state playoff team, reports that several of the graduating seniors are considering a mass enrollment at Western Oregon, which plays at the NCAA Division II level. Alexander is recovering from a broken right fibula suffered during a skateboarding accident.

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