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Fourth quarter powers Jefferson to 5A boys crown

by: THE REGISTER GUARD: CHRIS PIETSCH - Jefferson High School's celebrates its 5A state championship Saturday in Eugene. The Demos beat Churchill 59-53.EUGENE — The Jefferson Democrats outscored Churchill 23-12 in the fourth quarter to claim the Class 5A boys basketball championship with a 59-53 victory Saturday night at Matthew Knight Arena.

Victor Sanders led the Demos (24-4) with a game-high 22 points.

The Lancers finished their season with a 23-5 record.

Jefferson went ahead 47-46 on a jump shot by Hayden Hall with 2:59 remaining. After a 3-point miss by Churchill, Hall sank two free throws for a 49-46 lead at the 1:57 mark.

by: THE REGISTER-GUARD: CHRIS PIETSCH - Jefferson's Victor Sanders, left), Hayden Hall and Dario Papa-Vicente, right, battle Churchill's David Shedrick, center, for a rebound during the first half of the Class 5A State Championship game in Eugene on Saturday.Sanders got a steal with 1:41 to go, and Hall hit two more free throws 21 seconds later.

Churchill missed another 3, and Jeff rebounded, then drew a foul. Kadeem Strickland canned two free throws with 48 seconds left, giving the Demos a 53-46 lead.

Strickland then got a block at the other end, and pulled down the defensive rebound.

Sanders was fouled and hit two foul shots, pushing the advantage to 55-46.

Then Strickland sank a 3-pointer with 31 seconds to go, and the score was 58-46.

Churchill led most of the first half and went to intermission in front 29-23. Sanders and Paschal led the Demos in scoring in the opening half, each with seven points.

Jefferson star Silas Melson, the PIL 5A player of the year, got into some foul trouble, with three personals in the first half and a fourth 37 seconds into the third quarter. Melson finished with nine points.

The Demos caught the Lancers at 29-29, though, and regained the lead at 36-34 late in the period.

But Churchill had a good surge, and led 41-36 going into the final eight minutes.

Melson's three-point play and 3-point basket got the Demos to within 43-42 early in the fourth quarter, and the game was up for grabs down the stretch.