• Demos edge Corvallis to capture championship that echoes girls' win of last week
EUGENE -Before every game this season, point guard Kalonji Paschal watched videotape of Jefferson's 2000 championship game win over Tualatin, which capped an unbeaten season.
March 8, he watched as the Democrat girls ran to the Class 5A title at Chiles Center.
Last weekend, it was the Jefferson High senior's turn.
'I was there for every 2000 game, and I knew what it was like to win it,' he says. 'I was there when the girls won it, and saw the elation on their faces. I wanted to experience it myself. I just could tell how happy a championship could make you, and how it brings people together.'
Paschal and the Demos capped quite the basketball year at Jefferson when they beat Corvallis 55-52 for the 5A title Saturday night at McArthur Court. Two teams, two titles and one loss - the only defeat came when Oregon City beat the Jeff boys 71-61 in December.
In a way, Grant proved Saturday that Jeff might be the best team in the state. Grant beat Oregon City 63-56 for the 6A crown. The Demos beat the Generals, handily, 68-54, during the regular season.
Jeff wing Tyrone White says Corvallis was the best team the Democrats played all year. He says the Demos just didn't make enough shots to win against Oregon City in the Les Schwab Invitational.
It would be interesting to see another Jeff-Grant matchup; maybe it'll happen in a Northeast Portland park, five-on-five.
Regardless, in a basketball-crazy area of Portland, the Jeff boys (25-1) have the bragging rights. And Paschal, who also starred for the Demos' state quarterfinal team in football, thanks his lucky stars he decided to transfer from Benson to his neighborhood school after his sophomore year.
'I just wanted to win,' he says. 'And I knew we had a good chance of winning (the PIL) in basketball and football.'
• Curiously, the 5-11 Paschal did not make the all-tournament team, which is determined by a vote of the coaches. And standout Jeff sophomore Terrance Jones made second team. The only Jeff player who received individual honors was sophomore Terrance Ross (unanimous first team).
Paschal had 38 points in three games (14 against Corvallis), making 13 of 22 shots and committing only nine turnovers (five against Corvallis). He led the tourney with 4.0 steals and tied for seventh with 6.0 rebounds.
In the championship game, he held in check Corvallis point guard Nadav Heyman, the Spartans' leading scorer, who didn't score until late in the third quarter and didn't hit his first shot until the fourth. Heyman was the other unanimous all-first team pick.
'I can't believe Kalonji wasn't unanimous all-tourney. He was the tournament MVP,' Jefferson coach Marshall Haskins says. 'He was our spark plug the whole time - with leadership, defense, hustle, made key free throws. And he locked down the other guy (Heyman). What else can you do?'
Assistant coach Pat Strickland says: 'It's ridiculous that we got robbed like that. … Kalonji is the MVP of our team, the glue, the catalyst and a tremendous defender.'
Ross says that Paschal made the Demos go.
'He's the glue, unstoppable, creates for other players,' he says. 'He means everything to this team.'
The soft-spoken Paschal deflected credit, saying he just wanted to lead from the point. His efforts, as well as the steadying play of fellow seniors White, Henry Williams and Jordan Black, made Jefferson a more disciplined team than in years past.
'All year, coaches talked with me about executing the offense,' Paschal says. 'With the ball in my hands the whole time, every possession is crucial; you can't have turnovers.
'I'm used to being a leader, because I never was tall. I was the quarterback (in football), and I know how to take people under my wings, know how to keep people motivated to keep playing hard.'
• Paschal, who played quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back for the Demos, says he is deciding between whether to go the prep-school route - attending either Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y., or Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. - or college. He might play football or basketball, or both.
• Paschal says that Jeff's football season -the Demos won the PIL 5A - set the tone for the school's successful sports year.
'They were hungry,' Jeff football coach Anthony Stoudamire says of the hoopsters. 'They felt like they should have had one (a basketball title) last year.'
The Demos also retired Mel Renfro's number and will have a baseball team this spring. A lot of good things are happening at Jeff.
'I believe our principal (Cynthia Harris) has a lot to do with it,' Paschal says. 'She wants us to be known like Lincoln and Grant, wants to change the name of Jeff from being a bad school.'
Harris says athletic success reflects from positive change in the school.
'Lifting spirits,' she says. 'We're working really hard to bring the community together. One of the things I bring is a realness about what's going on, a sense of personal entitlement and pride, and making it work for the kids.'
White serves as student body president, and he says 'it's all about change here.'
Winning the two hoop titles, he adds, 'is a perfect way to kick it off and tell everybody, 'We're the best school around.' '
• White and Williams transferred back to their neighborhood high school after starting at Lincoln. White went to Lincoln originally because his father attended college with the Cardinals' former basketball coach, Jeff Bair. When Bair left for Clackamas, the 6-5 White looked back to Jeff.
'I grew up in the Jefferson area - why not go to Jefferson?' White says. 'I begged my dad to let me come back.'
• The 6-6 Ross and 6-7 Jones excelled as sophomores, and the seniors showed the way.
'A lot of what we do best is let the young talent do what they do,' White says. 'I've sacrificed to get the ball to sophomores who can score. We feed off them, we show them the way with leadership.'
The sophomores provided much of the offense, while the seniors provided defense and leadership.
'It's not about stats for us,' White adds. 'It's about holding up this 5A trophy.'
• Ross scored 20 points in the showdown quarterfinal victory over defending champion North Eugene, hitting 6 of 11 pointers. But he went just 4 of 18 for 12 points in the other two victories.
Jones sank 18 of 33 shots in the tournament for 41 points and hit the game-winning shot against North Eugene, all while nursing flulike symptoms. He says Paschal and Williams roomed with him and made sure he took medicine, got rest and went to bed on time.
'My senior mommies,' Jones says.
• Black, a 6-3 senior, who starts but often gets replaced by Jones, had the game of his life against Corvallis with seven early points and 12 total. He couldn't stop sobbing from joy after the game.
'It was tough just getting to this point, and we had to leave it all on the court,' he says. 'We all needed this.'
• Jefferson played with discipline, several ballhandlers and two sophomore studs, and ramped up defensively this season. Still, it doesn't compare to the 2000 team, Haskins says.
'The 2000 team was the greatest team in history of Oregon,' he says. 'It was explosive, with three or four ballhandlers and five starters who were Division I players (Brandon Brooks, Antone Jarrell, Jon Tinnon, Aaron Miles and Michael Lee).
'And, it had a star (Brooks), who at any point in a game when we needed a basket, he could get one. This team doesn't have that.'
• Haskins says he hasn't decided whether to resign as Jeff coach, although he's expected to continue as administrator for the Jefferson Young Men's Academy.
'He will be the face of the boys school,' Principal Harris says. 'He wants to go into administration, and I'm willing to give him that push while I'm there.'
Haskins says: 'It's easier to go when you win state.'
If Haskins relinquishes the basketball post, he wants longtime assistant Strickland to get the the job. Strickland, 37, a former Wilson High and Oregon State player, says he wants the job but believes many strong candidates would apply.
'It's a big-time job,' he says.
Strickland works as a child abuse investigator for the state. He got his degree from OSU in 1992, and he interviewed for the Jeff job when Bobby Harris left, but Haskins took over.
Strickland coaches Team Jones, the AAU team sponsored by NBA player Fred Jones, a club that includes many Jefferson players.
Strickland has two preteen boys, as well as a stepson with wife, Sonja. Each of the boys - Kadeem, Tyus and Isaiah - plays basketball, and Strickland wants to coach them at Jefferson in the future. He already has talked with former Wilson teammate Charles McKinney about being an assistant.
'I think it'll be a smooth transition,' Strickland says, 'if I was the person to get the job.'
Strickland has promised his wife he will stop coaching after kids conclude their prep careers, and 'then we'd ride off into the sunset.'
Haskins had a heart attack two years ago and missed a game (the Oregon City loss) this year with a virus - when one eye wouldn't open.
'The best thing that happened this year was Pat Strickland,' Haskins says. 'He took a lot of the load off me by doing most of the practices.'
• Nyesha Sims, Denaya Brazzle, Tyrisha Blake and Ariel Reynolds were among the champion Jeff girls watching the boys win the state title.
'This was just as exciting as our game,' Sims said, after the Corvallis game. 'Toward the end, I was getting a little nervous, but I knew they'd pull it out.'
'Next year we'll do it again, girls and boys,' Brazzle says.
• One of the many people celebrating on the floor after the Jefferson win was teacher Sandy Walterbach, known as Miss Walty to the players.
'These are like our own kids,' says Joe Walterbach, her husband. 'We love 'em like our own. Couldn't ask for nicer boys.'
• The 'Fab Five' takes over next year at Jefferson - juniors-to-be Ross, Jones, Noah Kone, A.J. Johnson and Rashaad Dent. They have played together on various teams for nearly three years. A senior-to-be, Derail Nelson, also will be in the rotation.
'I don't see anybody in the state who can handle them the next two years,' Paschal says. 'When they become seniors, it's going to be an unbelievable team.'
Haskins wants to see Ross and Jones play harder.
Ross needs to get to the hoop more and not rely on the outside shot. 'It's cuter to settle for jumpers,' Haskins says. 'He needs to get a little dirtier with his game.'
Jones expects to play point guard next season, showing off his Lamar Odom-type talent.
The 6-7 Kone, who also plays soccer, says he 'hopes to be kind of the force in the middle, a guy who does the dirty work and gets 10 rebounds and four or five blocks a night.'
Says point guard Johnson, who plays drums in church: 'We plan on winning three state championships. This is just the first one.'
Dent, who moved from Sacramento, Calif., before last school year, will play power forward.
'Even outside of basketball, we're tight. We're always at each other's houses,' he says.