The Crusaders survive a tough second quarter to hammer the Viks
HILLSBORO - The reports of Jesuit's demise in boys basketball have been greatly exaggerated.
Indeed, the Crusaders are alive and well, thank you very much.
While many people wrote off the three-time state champion Crusaders' chances after the team graduated a huge - and hugely successful - senior class last spring, Jesuit just keeps on winning.
The Crusaders improved to 6-1 on Tuesday by winning their opener in the Les Schwab Invitational at Liberty High School, routing North Salem 81-46 and advancing to a quarterfinal match-up against Lake Oswego held yesterday (Wednesday) after the Valley Times' press deadline.
'Just shooting out there, getting ready, I had a little bit of nerves,' admitted Jesuit junior guard Xavier Coleman, who had 14 points and two steals in the win. 'But after playing here last year, I was pretty excited to play here again.'
'We lost a lot of kids from last year so we have an inexperienced team,' added junior guard Khyan Rayner, who had 14 points, four steals and three rebounds. 'These tournaments and these tough games, it's good experience at the beginning of the year. That way, come state, we'll be ready.'
Jesuit certainly showed itself to be ready at the start of Tuesday's contest. Back on the court where the team finished third a year ago, the Crusaders just flat blitzed the Vikings in the first quarter.
Jesuit knocked down 10 of its 17 shots in the opening quarter, got three-pointers from four different players, and raced out to an 18-4 lead in the game's first six minutes.
In addition to 'threes' from Collin Spickerman, Werner Nistler III and Franklin Porter, Coleman caught fire late in the period and absolutely torched North Salem. Following a steal by Nistler, Coleman got his first basket on a three-pointer assisted by Porter with 2 minutes, 3 seconds left in the period. Coleman hit again from long range with 1:11 to go in the frame, made a steal and made a layup 19 seconds later, then drilled yet another 'three' set up by Porter with 11 seconds left in the quarter to give his team a 26-10 lead.
That said, North Salem clawed its way back into contention impressively in the second quarter. While Jesuit's big guns fell silent - the team went just 4-of-10 from the field and also turned the ball over eight times in the frame - the Vikings came back behind Malik Leaks and Justin Lowe.
Leaks got it done at the free throw line, hitting 5-of-6 in the period and later adding a jumpshot, while Lowe notched a three-point play, hit another foul shot, and then made a steal and layup. And when teammate LJ Westbrook scored in the paint with 43 seconds left in the half, North Salem had cut the Jesuit lead all the way down to 30-27.
But Jesuit closed the half with another 'three' by Nistler and a Rayner jumpshot in the key with five seconds left to keep the Crusaders ahead by 35-27 at the break.
'We had a rough stretch there for a while, but I'm glad coach (Gene) Potter didn't call timeout,' Coleman said. 'If we can work our way through that, we can work our way through anything.'
'They were a tough pressing team,' Rayner said. 'They didn't let up at all, but him not calling timeout showed us we can get through stuff like that.'
The Crusaders showed that they had learned the lessons of that difficult second quarter when they hit the court again in the third. After launching 14 three-point attempts in the first half, Jesuit made a concerted effort to go inside throughout the second half and it paid big dividends.
Jesuit racked up seven baskets in the paint in the third quarter, held North Salem to 1-of-10 shooting from the floor, and built their lead back to 57-30 before coasting home in the fourth. Max Rich, a 6-7 junior post, was the main beneficiary of the Crusaders' inside looks, hitting three straight shots in the period while Rayner added six points to his night's total.
'We definitely used our size a lot more in the second half,' Coleman said. 'We were shooting a lot of 'threes' in the first half, but we got in the locker room and (Potter) emphasized getting it down low and playing the inside-out game because they didn't have much size. We took advantage of that in the second half and it helped out.'
Rich just kept rolling in the fourth quarter, adding four more baskets without a miss to finish the night at 7-for-7 and leading his team with 17 points and five rebounds. Porter added 10 points and four assists in the win.
For North Salem, which fell to 6-2, Leaks finished with 15 points, five rebounds and six turnovers, while Lowe added 14 points, five rebounds and five steals.
To see a complete photo gallery from this game, please go to www.milesvance.exposuremanager.com.