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Seven hoop teams place fifth or higher at state

Prep Focus • Crusaders dominate, while others put their chemistry to good use
by: Christopher Onstott Benson’s Andrew Andrews drives inside for a shot in the Class 5A title game against Corvallis at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene.

Last weekend, the arena lights went dim on another prep basketball season. Along with the dust of those empty courts, there remain the memories of the shots made and missed, dreams realized and shattered, and games won and lost. Jesuit High’s boys and girls swept the Class 6A championships. Benson’s boys had a heartbreaking, two-overtime loss in the 5A championship game. Roosevelt came within a breath of playing for the 4A championship before taking fifth place. St. Mary’s Academy and Lincoln each took fourth place in the 6A girls and boys tournament, respectively. Central Catholic won the 6A third-place boys game. Here’s how it all went down: The Jesuit boys made history when they beat Westview 60-46 at the Rose Garden to become the first big-school team to win three consecutive state titles. The Crusaders finished the season 26-2. Kyle Wiltjer, Jordan Akwenuke and Jack Grodahl were named all-tournament. “Look at that,” Crusaders coach Gene Potter said to one of his assistant coaches as the three players were presented with their first-team medals. “I guess it wasn’t all coaching.” Jesuit’s girls had seen their share of tears in quests to win a state title for the first time. Last year, Jesuit lost 47-38 to Southridge after blowing a 26-16 halftime lead. This year, the Crusaders would not be denied, beating Clackamas 42-39 in the final at the Rose Garden. The Crusaders (27-1) placed Elizabeth Brenner and Rachel Mendelsohn on the all-tourney team. “The program has come so close in so many instances,” Crusader guard Tasha Wilkins said. “To finally get it, especially after losing last year, is incredible.” Despite 41 points from guard Andrew Andrews, Benson lost 79-73 to Corvallis in two OTs in a memorable 5A final at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene. The Techmen finished the season 23-4. Andrews and Bryce White were all-tournament choices. “I’m awfully proud,” Tech coach Troy Berry said. “You spend that much time in the gym and you sweat that much and you get to know the boys and develop a relationship and a bond with them. It was a real special group. We’ll be back next year.” In the 4A semifinals at Corvallis’ Gill Coliseum, Roosevelt lost 42-41 in the final seconds to eventual state champion Phoenix, which hit a game-winning 3-pointer. The Roughriders then fell to Mazama 51-49 in two overtimes in the third/fifth-place game. Joe Morales and Riley Charlish were second-team all-tourney for the Riders (17-8). “One step at a time —we got every goal besides getting to that championship game,” Roughriders coach Robert Key said. The Lincoln boys beat West Linn 78-70 in the consolation final/fourth-place game at the Rose Garden. For the Cardinals (22-7), Gavin Hoffmann and JT Flowers were second-team all-tourney. “Caring about the guy next to you and making the extra pass,” was the key to the Cards’ success, coach David Adelman said. “I’m not going to lie, this is one of my favorite teams that I’ve ever been around.” St. Mary’s Academy made the quarterfinals for the first time since 1999. The Blues took fourth when they beat Tigard 66-56 at the Rose Garden. St. Mary’s (24-5) had Sha’Nice Storey on the all-tourney second team after she scored 27 points and drained seven 3-pointers against the Tigers on her birthday. Storey got help all season from backcourt mates Zoie Sheng and Nae Torregano. “Our team effort is really what brought us all of our wins,” Sheng said. “I love my teammates, and I’m pretty sure they love me back. So just going out there and playing for each other is what gets us going.” After losing to Jesuit 77-61 in the 6A boys quarterfinals, Central Catholic bounced back the next day to beat North Medford 72-69 for third place. For the Rams (24-4), Brennan Scarlett made all-tournament and Will Bond was voted to the second team. “The key to our success was that our chemistry matched our talent,” Rams coach Mike Petrino said. “We knew we had a talented group, and could our chemistry match our talent?It was either going to elevate us or bring us down. Today our society is so selfish and these young kids stayed as a team, which is hard. I’m very proud of them.”