But the Crusaders take out Westview to finish at 2-2
by: JOHN LARIVIERE, UP AND IN — Jesuit senior Brad Gerbing lofts a shot toward the basket during the Crusaders’ win over White Rock Christian Academy of British Columbia in last week’s Les Schwab Invitational tournament at Liberty High School.

HILLSBORO - The Metro League schedule doesn't start for three weeks, but like it or not, the Jesuit boys basketball team got an early league preview in the Les Schwab Invitational at Liberty High School.

The Crusaders beat Metro foe Westview 49-46 in the consolation semifinals to highlight a 2-2 effort at the elite 16-team tourney.

Jesuit opened play Wednesday with a 53-45 loss to North Eugene before defeating White Rock Christian of British Columbia 65-47 on Thursday and Westview on Friday to set up Saturday's rematch of the 2006 LSI consolation championship with Jefferson

The Democrats equaled last season's result, beating the Crusaders 53-45.

With just three returning varsity players, Jesuit used the tournament to continue improving in preparation for the Metro League season, which begins Jan. 18 with the Crusaders playing at Westview.

'We've been competitive, mostly because we're defending very well,' Jesuit coach Gene Potter said. 'We have some talented players and are getting better each game.'

There was definitely room for improvement after the loss to North Eugene, the state's top-ranked Class 5A team. The Crusaders led 20-13 at halftime but were outscored 40-25 while shooting 29.2 percent in the second half. Sophomore Stephen Holt led Jesuit with 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

Things picked up for the Crusaders in Thursday's win over White Rock, though. Jesuit used a 12-2 run for an 18-9 lead on Holt's drive and bucket early in the second quarter.

The Warriors got within two points at 37-35 midway through the third quarter, but the Crusaders responded with a 7-0 spurt to close the frame. Senior post Brad Gerbing had nine of his 11 points in the period, including two off an inbounds pass for a 44-35 lead.

Junior Brenton Spickerman, a transfer from West Linn, tallied eight of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter as Jesuit pulled away. Freshman Kyle Wiltjer added seven points in the fourth quarter, when the team was 10-of-15 from the floor.

The victory set up Friday's game against Westview. It was back-and-forth throughout, with the Wildcats leading 18-13 after the first quarter and Jesuit recovering with a 16-5 advantage in the third to build a 38-30 lead it wouldn't relinquish.

'We got to see what they have in store,' Holt said. 'Today was a statement.'

'The game gave us a look at what the Metro season is like,' Jesuit junior Michael Hart added. 'They'll be one of the best teams in the Metro.'

After a slow start, Jesuit was better Friday. The Crusaders shot just 33 percent in the first half, but Hart, Holt (who had a team-high 13 points) and Spickerman each had three-pointers in the third quarter, while Westview converted just 1-of-11 shots from the floor.

'We work hard in practice and pride ourselves on defense,' Spickerman said. 'It pulled through for us today since we weren't shooting the best.'

Westview got a Hayes Garrity three-point play to open the fourth quarter, closed the gap to 40-37 on Garrett Jackson's layin and to 43-40 on Andy Poling's three-point play. Poling and Garrity led Westview with 12 points each.

Spickerman scored on a putback in the paint off a Hart assist, but the Wildcats kept close with Garrity's layin and Jackson's putback making it 47-44 with 2:33 remaining.

Terrell Wallace swished an 8-footer to make it 48-46 Jesuit with 44 seconds left, but the Wildcats missed a pair of three-point attempts after a Holt free throw and Jesuit held on, clinching the win with Holt's offensive rebound in the waning seconds.

'This (tournament) definitely gave us a look at what we need to do to get back to the state tournament,' Hart said.

Jesuit got a look at the state's No. 2-ranked 5A school Jefferson on Saturday.

Jesuit battled the athletic Democrats early, trailing 19-17 at the end of one quarter. But Jefferson went on an 8-0 run early in the second quarter held the lead from there on out.

Spickerman had seven of his team-high 15 points in the third quarter, including field goals in the paint on consecutive possessions to draw Jesuit within four at 39-35 midway through period. The Democrats countered with a 9-2 run and held off the Crusaders in the fourth.

Wiltjer, who showed great poise for a freshman throughout the tournament, had 14 points - 10 in the first half. Holt added 10 points and eight rebounds.

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