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Jesuit girls still flying high

PREP BASKETBALL: Jesuit's 59-53 win over Beaverton puts it on the verge of the Metro title
by: MILES VANCE, DRIVING FORCE – Jesuit’s Caroline Lilley (left) tries to get around Beaverton’s Kelly Marineau during the Crusaders’ 59-53 win over the Beavers at Beaverton High School last Thursday night.

BEAVERTON - The end of the Metro League regular season takes place tonight, but the season itself is far, far from over.

Jesuit's girls basketball team took another key step toward a league title last Thursday when the Crusaders took out Beaverton 59-53 at Beaverton High School. The win lifted Jesuit's Metro League record to 8-1 (17-6 overall) and kept the Crusaders a game ahead of second-place Southridge, while Beaverton dropped to 5-4 (14-9 overall) but kept sole possession of third place.

The Crusaders built their win on twin 18-point efforts from Meaghan White and Lauren Wilkins and an 18-10 third-quarter scoring edge that gave them a nine-point edge entering the fourth quarter and allowed them to withstand a late Beaver rally.

'Beaverton's a really good team,' said Wilkins, a senior post who hit 7-of-11 shots from the field. 'They're one of those teams where, if you let them go, they'll take you out of the game. And playing at their place is always difficult, but hopefully, we're peaking at the right time.'

In the first half, 'we weren't rebounding well and we couldn't hit a shot,' said Jesuit coach Kathy Adelman Naro. 'But then the second half, we followed our shots so that even when we missed we got second looks. I'm really proud of us. It was a good team win.'

Indeed. If the Crusaders can beat Westview at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Jesuit High School, they would secure the Metro League title outright. If successful, the win would mark Jesuit's first Metro title since 2003 when the Crusaders won the league at 14-2 and went on to finish second at the Class 4A state tournament.

Beaverton, meanwhile, finishes its Metro run at Southridge tonight at 7:30 p.m. and needs a win or a Westview loss to guarantee itself the league's third-place berth to state.

'I was just proud of how the kids battled,' said Beaverton coach Jay Ego. 'The great thing about the Metro League is we're all playing competitive teams and those teams that get in the playoffs have had a competitive schedule and are well prepared for the playoffs and we hope that's us.'

'We played really well against Aloha and we just carried it over here,' said Beaver senior Claire Velaski. 'We missed some layups and missed some shots, and if we just would have made those, I think we would have come out on top.'

During the first half of their game last week, the Beavers and Crusaders took turns punching and counterpunching at each other, with Jesuit using back-to-back three-pointers from Laura Nilsen and Jen Beyrle to grab an 18-12 lead at the start of the second quarter.

Jesuit still led by six at 20-14 on Danielle DuFresne's baseline jumpshot with 5 minutes, 26 seconds left in the first half, but Beaverton rallied into the lead at 21-20 thanks to a three-point play by Leah Brushwein and a Brushwein jumpshot with 2:49 left in the quarter.

But Jesuit took control in the third quarter, using a 7-0 run to pull ahead 38-30 behind two Wilkins hoops and a White three-point play. The Crusaders' lead was still nine, at 45-36, entering the fourth quarter, but the Beavers did their best to make it interesting. After falling behind 51-40 with 5:13 left in the game, the Beavers came back with a putback by Emily Shoemaker and a Shoemaker three-point play to cut the gap to 51-45.

Then, two minutes later, Gillian Frackelton buried a three-pointer to bring the Beavers within 53-49 with 1:42 left, but the Crusaders put the game on ice thanks to a backdoor layin by White and two Wilkins foul shots on their next two possessions.

Now, the Crusaders are beginning to look ahead to their first shot at the Class 6A state playoffs.

'We do have high goals and I know we can do it because we have great team chemistry and it basically comes down to how bad we want it each game,' Wilkins said.

While disappointed with the loss, the Beavers were proud of their efforts and proved to themselves they could play with the Crusaders.

'Jesuit is a top-caliber team and they're playing as well as anybody in the state,' Ego added. 'I think they're one of the top teams. For us to play championship basketball at this time of the season is important.'

'We were really relaxed going in and we knew that we didn't play our best the last time we played them,' Velaski added. 'We just really wanted to win it so it's too bad we fell short.'

Brushwein led Beaverton with 14 points and Frackelton added eight.