by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: PARKER LEE - Jefferson High's Devaunte Paschal (right) goes in for a fast-break dunk against Silverton as the Democrats win Friday's Class 5A semifinal game at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene.EUGENE – With a trip to the state title game on the line, the Jefferson Democrats (23-4) played like a championship basketball team against Silverton (22-5).

The Demos smothered the Foxes right out of the gate as they stormed to a 67-58 Class 5A semifinal win Friday at Matthew Knight Arena.

The Demos will square off against Churchill (23-4) for the state championship at Saturday. Churchill beat Mountain View 67-55 in the other semifinal.

Jefferson guard Devaunte Paschal set the tone when he intercepted a pass from Silverton guard Zach Gengler and took it the other way for a dunk on the first play. Paschal replicated that twice more in the first three minutes and had 10 points halfway through the first quarter.

“Devaunte gambles a lot,” Jefferson coach Pat Strickland said. “Tonight, his gambles kind of paid off. The scouting report on Zach is that he’s a great player, but he throws lazy passes here and there, so Devaunte stepped in the passing lane and picked a few of them off.”

The other Jefferson players followed Paschal’s lead and revved up their defensive aggressiveness. The Demos’ forced eight turnovers in the first quarter and held Silverton to 3 of 14 from the field.

Jefferson’s offensive tempo matched its defensive urgency, and Jeff tried to turn every possession into fast-break points. The Demos’ near-perfect start allowed them to race to an 18-5 advantage.

Jefferson kept its foot on the gas as it extended its lead to 20 points in the second quarter.

Silverton got a few more shots to fall in the third quarter, but pulled only two points closer. However, the Foxes made a push in the final period to make the game competitive. They went into a trap defense and forced Jefferson into a few unforced errors. Silverton went on a 10-2 run to cut the deficit to 10 with about five minutes left.

“They tried to turn the pressure up, and it bothered us,” Strickland said. “My guys were like deer in the headlights. They wanted to stall when they needed to still attack.”

The teams exchanged baskets for the next few minutes, and Jefferson maintained its double-digit lead as the clock dipped below two minutes. With 1:24 remaining, Gengler brought Silverton to within six points when he executed a four-point play by getting fouled while burying a 3-pointer.

That was as close as the Foxes would get. Jefferson made enough free throws and defensive stops in the final minute to keep Silverton at bay.

Guard Victor Sanders led the Demos with 21 points, nine of which came in the final period. Paschal added 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting. Gengler led Silverton with 23 points and six PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: PARKER LEE - Victor Sanders of Jefferson works a crossover dribble against Preston Kirk of Silverton.

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