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PREPS: Cleveland Warriors shock Jefferson, too, in PIL boys basketball

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TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Stellan Roberts' 16 points led a balanced Cleveland High attack on Friday, as the Warriors defeated Jefferson 67-61 in a PIL game at Cleveland.Eight days earlier, Cleveland High coach Don Emry had told his Warriors they could “shock the 6A world” in that night’s game against Grant. They did, upsetting the Generals in a wire-to-wire, 74-64 victory at Cleveland.

Friday night’s game at Cleveland was the sequel — Class 6A shocker II would be the movie title if you made a film of what the Warriors did to Portland Interscholastic League-leading Jefferson. The Warriors led from start to finish again, and won 67-61.

“Like I said last week, every team in this league has players,” Emry said after handing the Democrats their first PIL defeat. “Jefferson didn’t start very well, and we jumped on them, and we did enough things well and made enough free throws down the stretch to win.

“The kids are working really hard, and they deserve it.”

LIke they did against Grant, the Warriors came out on fire. They got up by 15 points in the first quarter and finished the frame with a 22-9 lead.

Jefferson chipped away, winning the middle quarters 21-17 and 16-12 behind the offense of Geno West and strong team offensive rebounding. The Demos pulled to within one point of Cleveland early in the fourth quarter, but their shots to tie or take the lead the rest of the way refused to drop.

A layup by sophomore guard Rowan Anderson with 53 seconds remaining gave Cleveland a 62-55 lead.

Jefferson’s Amari Stafford hit a 3-pointer with 37 seconds to go, but Warriors senior forward Stellan Roberts sank two free throws two seconds later to put his team on top 64-58.

Stafford made another 3 with 28 seconds left, but CHS sophomore wing Sethon Moore got a layup at the 18-second mark for a 66-61 Cleveland lead.

Stafford and West each missed a 3, and Cleveland point guard Devin Ishimaru was fouled after getting the rebound. He made a free with five seconds to play for the final margin.

Jefferson fell into a tie for first in the PIL with Wilson; both are 5-1.

Cleveland won its third game in a row and improved to 3-3 in league, sixth behind the Demos and Trojans, Grant (4-2), Lincoln (4-3) and Franklin (4-3).

“Jefferson’s a great team,” Anderson said. “We knew we had to come out and play well and play together. They’re leading the league in scoring, so we knew we had to lock down on defense and just keep our composure.”

West, a 6-3 junior guard who has been Jeff’s go-to guy all season, scored a game-high 25 points, including 11 and seven in the middle quarters. A high-speed slasher and good outside shooter, he deferred a bit more in the fourth quarter, though, and had only two points in the period.

“Geno West had a great game,” Emry said, “and Stellan did a great job on him.”

Cleveland countered with a balanced attack out of its offensive sets. Roberts finished with 16 points. Anderson and 6-3 senior forward Nate Williams (7 of 8 from the field) each had 14 points, and Moore came away with 11 points.

The Warriors opened the game by working the ball into Williams, and he spun to the rim for the early baskets that forced Jefferson to play from behind.

“Nate had his best game,” Emry said. “And we felt we had an advantage on the blocks, if we would get the ball in there.”

“Our passing was really good, and once we got those layups our confidence started to build,” Williams said. “We know we can compete with anyone.”

Cleveland’s ability to move the ball, avoid turnovers and hit cutters with well-angled passes enabled the Warriors to cut through Jefferson’s defense and build a double-digit lead.

“We’ve been working on spreading the floor and using some guys who are good cutters — Peter (Gregory), Stellan and Sethon,” Emry said. “They get a step, and they’re pretty quick, so we tried to get some back-cut shots.”

The Warriors were 21 of 36 from the field, including 12 of 15 in the first half. They also were 13 of 18 from the free-throw line. And they had just 14 turnovers, which Emry called “pretty good” considering Jefferson’s defensive prowess, quickness and pressure.

The Democrats dominated the boards much of the way, though, although Cleveland guards Ishimaru (five boards) and Anderson (four) helped the cause.

“We told the kids, ‘It’s all about rebounding,’” Emry said. “We wanted to limit Jeff to one or two shots.”

Jefferson slipped to 9-5 overall and 18th in the Oregon School Activities Association rankings. Cleveland climbed to 7-7; the Warriors are ranked 32nd. They had a hit-and-miss, somewhat disappointing 4-4 record in nonleague games, with losses by one, two, three and nine points.

“We didn’t start off playing very well, but we knew we could be a good team,” Emry said. “We just had to get a little better and get more consistent. Tonight, a lot of guys contributed. Nate got us going, and other guys came in, like (6-5 junior forward) Malik Hosey, who rebounded and hit some key free throws.”

“We know we can play at this level, and we’re starting to turn the corner,” Anderson said.

Getting another upset victory in front of the home fans was doubly satisfying for the Warriors.

“Hearing the crowd cheering for us was really big,” Anderson said.

“The fans have been great,” Williams said.