Demos pull through in quarterfinals
EUGENE – The Jefferson High boys basketball team held its collective breath Wednesday night as West Albany center Jalen Schlegel heaved a 40-footer at the buzzer that would have sent their Class 5A quarterfinal into overtime.
The Democrats (22-4) were so relieved when the ball bounced harmlessly off the backboard that they barely celebrated their 55-52 victory at Matthew Knight Arena.
From the opening tip until the final minute, West Albany (18-8) never let Jefferson feel comfortable. Every time the PIL 5A champion Democrats were primed to pull away, the Bulldogs made a big play to keep it close.
When we were on the verge of opening it up a little bit, we would do something silly -- turn the ball over, shoot a bad shot, or they would force us into something bad, Jefferson coach Pat Strickland said.
By the time the fourth quarter began, it was clear Jefferson wasnt going to run away with the game. West Albany kept up the pressure and even took a two-point lead with 1:08 remaining on a 3-pointer from forward Nate Sherwood.
Jefferson guard Devaunte Paschal responded when he streaked to the rim for a game-tying layup. Paschal got his shot to roll in, drew a foul and sank the free throw. The Democrats maintained that lead for good.
Down the stretch in the last couple minutes, we were a little more poised, Strickland said.
Paschal, who finished with 12 points, was one of four Democrats to finish with at least 11 points. Victor Sanders and Kadeem Strickland also tallied 12 points each, while Silas Melson added 11. Jefferson will meet Silverton (22-4) in the semifinals at 8:15 p.m. Friday.
West Albany outshot the Demos from the field, 45.8 percent to 38.5 percent, and outrebounded Jeff 33-23. The Demos forced 18 turnovers, though, while committing only nine.
Jefferson led most of the way. The Demos' largest lead was nine points at 32-23 late in the first half. But West Albany pulled to within 41-40 at the end of the third quarter. The score was tied four times in the fourth quarter.
West Albany will play in the consolation bracket at 10:45 a.m. Thursday against Milwaukie, which lost 55-47 to Silverton in the Wedneday quarterfinal right before the Jeff game.
Thursday's 3:15 p.m. semifinal will pit Churchill against Mountain View.
Churchill topped Sandy 82-61 on Wednesday afternoon, while Mountain View defeated Wilsonville 49-39.
The tournament ends Saturday, with the third-place game at 3:15 p.m., and the championship match at 8:30 p.m.