Jefferson avenges its only PIL loss with a powerful 76-55 win at Lincoln
Feb. 10, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
PORTLAND - The Jefferson High boys basketball team apparently got the message the Lincoln High team sent them Jan. 10. If the Democrats didn't play like they wanted to win the state title, they ran the risk of losing.
Tuesday, they showed off they don't plan on losing anytime soon.
Behind a dominating defensive performance led by senior center Isaiah Robinson's five blocked shots, and 24 points from senior point guard Kadeem Strickland, the Democrats ran over Lincoln, 76-55, avenging the 65-64 loss the Cardinals handed them in their first meeting.
The win was their ninth-straight by double-digits, and eighth-straight by at least 21 points. Jefferson improved to 15-4 overall, 12-1 in PIL play, a game ahead of the Cardinals in the race for the league title.
Jefferson dominated from the outset, turning a 7-3 lead into an 18-3 tsunami of offense and defense. Lincoln, tempered by the pass-first, shoot second mentality of teams that haven't tasted state glory, got overwhelmed into the fourth quarter, when Jefferson led 65-30. The Cardinals responded to reach the final score, but the PIL's hopes for playoff glory clearly rest with Jefferson. And, the Democrats know it.
Lincoln gears up for duel with Jefferson by beating Benson 56-43
Feb. 6, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
PORTLAND - The ebb and flow of the high school boys basketball season showed itself in the second half of Lincoln's win over Benson Friday night as the Cardinals pulled out to a solid lead, extended it to a bigger lead, watched it dissolve then cruised to a 56-43 decision.
Lincoln led 35-29 at halftime, and 44-32 early in the fourth quarter before Benson rallied to within 44-41 with three minutes left. After a series of missed shots and turnovers by both teams, free throws eventuall pushed the host Cardinals to the win and a 10-1 record in the Portland Interscholastic League, 14-5 overall.
Sophomore guard Jonah Pemberton scored 17 points and junior Nic Wolf added 11 to lead Lincoln, which moved a half-game ahead of idle Jefferson in the race for the league title. The teams meet Tuesday at Lincoln.
"Our collective goal all season has been to win the league title," Wolf said. "Everyone knows Jefferson is the top team, and for us to win the league title we have to beat them. Having that win over them gives us a lot of confidence, but we know they remember that. It's going to be a big test."
Sophomore Will Lakayi led all scorers with 18 points for Benson, which dropped to 5-14 overall, 2-9. The Techmen have a week off before playing at Cleveland.
Lincoln's fluid season started off at 3-4 before a run of 11 wins in the past 12 games, including four in the past eight days. Within the stretch the Cardinals beat Jefferson 64-64 on a last-second three-point play by Pemberton.
Three days later they beat Madison 80-28, but a week after that they lost to Cleveland 66-48 showcasing the keys to their season - energy and focus. With a team of primarily role players, the Cardinals were possibly playing above their talent in beating Jefferson, which won the Class 5A state title last season and won a pair of games in the Les Schwab Invitational - one over currently third-ranked Jesuit.
"We definitely played with a lot of energy," Wolf said of the Jefferson win. "We matched their energy and their focus and that's been our biggest challenge this season - keeping that consistent energy and focus."
Jefferson responded to the loss, which came during a day of league games at Marshall High, Jan. 10, with seven consecutive wins by an average margin of 36 points. Jefferson is ranked sixth in the latest OSAA Rankings, while Lincoln is 14th. No other PIL team is ranked higher than 25th.
Lincoln has three state titles to its resume - 1919, '52 and '57, and was a state player from 2009-13 under coach David Adelman. But last season, the team fell to 27th in the state rankings under coach Sean Christensen. Lincoln last won the PIL title - the title with all the current schools playing at the same classification - in 2003.
Consistency leads No. 2 Central Catholic to 58-54 win over Reynolds
Jan. 9, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
PORTLAND - The minefield that is the drive toward the 2015 Class 6A boys basketball state championship showed itself off Friday night during Reynolds' game at Central Catholic.
The second-ranked Rams got 16 points from junior Austin Rose and another 11 from senior Xavier Hallinan on the way to a 58-54 victory over the visiting Raiders in a Mount Hood Conference game.
Central Catholic showed off its defensive intensity and overall strength to turn a one-point halftime deficit into a 14-point lead in just under six minutes during the third quarter, then held off a spirited rally to improve to 10-2 overall. The Rams, who narrowly missed upsetting the nation's top team in December, remain unbeaten against Oregon competition.
Senior Cody Starr scored 22 points to lead Reynolds, which struggled with turnovers throughout the second half and fell to 7-5 overall.
But, with a frontline that features 6-foot-10 senior Drew Eubanks and solid shooting by Starr, a 6-1 point guard, the Raiders are a potential title contender despite being ranked only No. 27 in the OSAA rankings.
The Raiders' five losses are by a combined 15 points.
"We feel like we're one of the teams in the running to win state, but there's a lot of good teams in the state," Central Catholc senior Deante Strickland said. "We know it's a wide open year for the state title."
Central Catholic gets another test Tuesday when it travels to David Dougas to play the top-ranked Scots, the state's lone unbeaten team. David Douglas beat Gresham 66-50 Friday.
Reynolds, which lost 54-51 to Oregon City on Tuessday, plays host to Centennial on Tuesday.
Central Catholic and Reynolds traded jabs throughout the first half, with the lead changing hands seven times before the Raiders settled on a 28-27 lead. The Rams took the lead for good on pair of short jump shots by senior Patrick Myers for a 31-28 lead. Reynolds got one point back on a free throw by Eubanks, who is headed for Oregon State to play basketball and baseball, but the Rams then scored on seven of their next eight possessions, stretching the lead to as much as 43-29 before the Raiders rallied behind Starr, who scored nine points in the final 1:55 of the third quarter.
Reynolds kept charging in to the fourth quarter and got within 49-45 on a three-pointer by junior Alec Burridge with six minutes still to play. But, the Raiders didn't get a shot off on their next six possessions and Central Catholic rebuilt the lead to 55-45. Starr connected on five straight free throws to tighten the score with 1:18 left, but the Rams made three of the four free throws they attempted thereafter and Reynolds ran out of time.
"We struggled with turnovers, that's something we have to get better with," Starr said. "We definitely think we're one of the teams that can win the state title."
The nation's top team handles West Linn, 70-58, in LSI title game
Dec. 30, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
HILLSBORO - The team everyone wanted to see showed itself off Tuesday night and claimed the Les Schwab Invitational boys basketball title with a 70-58 win over scrappy West Linn.
Montverde Academy, which is ranked No. 1 nationally, and has been named the national champion the past two seasons, got 29 points and 11 rebounds from senior Ben Simmons, and cruised to the victory before a packed gym at Liberty High School.
West Linn, Oregon's two-time defending state champion, got 24 points from junior Payton Pritchard and another 18 from senior Anthony Mathis, but couldn't over come a slow start that had the visitors from Florida open up a 13-point lead midway through the first quarter. The Lions got within eight points several times, but couldn't pull closer.
Montverde remained unbeaten, while West Linn dropped to 5-4 with all of its losses coming to out-of-state teams. The Lions close out their non-league schedule with a home game against Sheldon Saturday, which starts a five-game stretch of home games.
"We got a lot out of this tournament, a lot of confidence,"
"The whole tournament we made some big strides," West Linn coach Eric Viuhkola said. "The final wasn't how we want to play, wasn't West Linn basketball, but the effort and toughness was there. We got a lot of confidence here, and know we can play with anyone in the state. We're in the mix."
West Linn's resume of wins included a semifinal victory over Wheeler High, which entered as the No. 2 ranked team nationally. The Lions also beat Jefferson, the defending Class 5A champion, which now plays at 6A.
Simmons, a 6-foo-8 point guard, showed off the skill that have him on the way to Louisiana State as the nation's top prospect - and widely seen as an NBA draft pick in 2016. He hit 10-of-15 shots, most off dunks, or from under the basket, and had all four of the Eagles' blocks. Along with Simmons, Montverde featured two other front-line players 6-9 or taller.
Despite being overmatched on paper with just one player taller than 6-6, West Linn battled for rebounds and gave up just six total points to 7-foot senior Doral Moore and 6-9 freshman E.J. Montgomery. The Lions also forced Simmons into five turnovers.
The Eagles' size though, showed off when the Lions had the ball and were forced or content to take 3-point shots - 37 of their 57 field-goal attempts were 3-pointers. Pritchard attempted 15, but made six to help keep the team in the game.
Pritchard was named to the all-tournament team, along with Simmons, who was named MVP after averaging 28.3 points in four games.
The defending Class 5A champions beat Wilsonville, 52-42, in home opener
Dec. 12, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
PORTLAND -The Jefferson Democrats may not have won a boys basketball state title at the large school level in 14 years, but it hasn't stopped coach Pat Strickland from thinking his Demos should be the team to beat this season. That's because they're the defending state champions. And, maybe that was at the Class 5A level from last season, but the regular season included the Demos beating eventual Class 6A champion West Linn.
So, with a little imagination, it's not hard to think Jefferson would have won at the 6A level - if only it had been allowed to play there.
This season, with all the Portland Interscholastic League schools returning to the large-school level for the first time since 2006, that won't be the case.
"It's our title until someone takes it away from us," Strickland said after Jefferson beat former 5A rival Wilsonville Friday night in their home opener. "We beat the best from 6A last year, so why wouldn't it be our title."
Jefferson led throughout Friday's game, although the Wildcats cut a 13-point deficit to four in the fourth quarter. Jefferson senior point guard Kadeem Strickland scored 22 points, including 18 on 3-point shots, to lead the way. Senior Gabe Garrett added nine for the Demos, who lost their season opener 60-57 to Jesuit last week.
The Demos have two weeks off to prepare for South Salem in the opening round of the 16-team Les Schwab Invitational, Dec. 27. A victory would put it up against the winner of the Grant vs. West Linn contest.
Wilsonville, which won a pair of games in Nevada last week, got 13 points from sophomore Zach Reichle and 12 points from junior Tyler Hieb. The Wildcats play at Lincoln Tuesday.
Jefferson may be one of two defending state champions active in Class 6A, but it is a decidedly different team. Last season, guard Silas Melson led the team on the way to being the Class 5A Player of the Year having already signed a letter-of-intent to play at Gonzaga. Melson has already earned playing time as a freshman.
Most, if not all, of the Demos' seniors this season are likely headed for NCAA Div. II schools, including Garrett, who has commited to St. Martin's of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The team's pedigree, won't stop virtually any Div. I school from watching a game and taking notes on the roster. Friday's game attracted Portland State head coach Tyler Geving as well as an assistant from the University of Portland. Kadeem Strickland did plenty to attract attention to his game.
"A team is always the point guards team, and that's my position, so this is my team," he said. "I'm going to have to step my game up whenever the team needs it and be ready to put it on my back and lead the way."
Jefferson features a core of flashy guards, all of whom were solid on defense keeping the Wildcats off balance. And, the team has 6-foot-10 center Isaiah Robinson to patrol the middle. The team has plenty of room to improve, too, before a playoff run begins - Robinson, for example, scored just five points - all on free throws. But, with a stronger offensive output from Robinson, and outside shooting from Strickland and Garrett Jefferson figures to be among the team to beat in March, if not THE team to beat.
Melson, Sanders combine for 55 points as top-rated Demos win easily
Jan. 25, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning / Oregonsports Journal
The stars were out to watch the Jefferson Democrats Friday night, and the top-ranked Class 5A boys basketball team didn't disappoint.
Led by 31 points by Silas Melson and 24 from Victor Sanders, the Demos ripped No. 8 Benson apart with a 48-20 run through the second and third quarters on the way to an 80-49 victory in a Portland Interscholastic League game at Benson.
The game brought out Oregon State and NBA great Gary Payton as well as University of Washington coach Lorenzo Romar for the inner-city rivalry that filled the Chiles Center twice a decade ago.
Benson owned the series the past two seasons while it challenged for a state title both years, but the Demos reclaimed the rivalry edge Friday.
"We've been down the last couple years, so we wanted to change that," Melson said. "I think we did."
Melson scored just five points in the first half, but outscored the Techmen 17-8 by himself in the third quarter. Melson's scoring run included a steal and breakaway dunk into the camera of a film crew that is cataloging the team's season for Nike's Jordan Brand.
Jefferson is one of only a handful of teams nationwide that are supported by the Jordan Brand. Having a pair of rookies in the NBA: Terrence Jones and Terrence Ross, got the program that kind of attention.
Lake Oswego holds the defending state champs to a season low in repeat victory
Jan. 8, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning / Oregonsports Journal
It happened again to the Jesuit Crusaders - an offensive blowout.
Blowout as in a tire getting thrashed on the highway causing a trip to the emergency lane.
Fortunately for the four-time defending state champions, the second loss to Lake Oswego in 11 days is plenty early in the season not to warrant any hearty concern.
But, Lake Oswego seems to have Jesuit's number this season.
Calvin Hermanson, who sat out the Lakers' game Friday with an injured ankle, returned and scored a game-high 14 points and Lake Oswego ended the game on an 8-1 run to beat Jesuit 46-38 in a non-league boys basketball game at Jesuit Tuesday night.
The match-up between the top two teams in Class 6A was a rematch of the Les Schwab Invitational from Dec. 29, which the Lakers won, as well as a rematch of the 2012 state championship, which the Crusaders won.
Lake Oswego held Jesuit to its previous season low of 43 in the LSI championship, a total that was 15 points lower than any of their previous 10 games in the season - all wins.
Trailing 32-23, the Crusaders rallied in the fourth quarter to within 38-37, but missed several inside shots and four of five three throws in the closing moments.
Khyan Rayner led Jesuit, which plays at No. 5 Central Catholic Friday, with 11 points.
Without Calvin Hermanson, Connor Griffin steps up in 59-45 victory
Jan. 4, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
LAKE OSWEGO - Playing without star senior Calvin Hermanson, Lake Oswego gave up the first nine points to Central Catholic Friday night before showing off it's more than just a one-player boys basketball team.
The top-ranked Lakers, still feeling the good vibes of having beaten rival Jesuit in the final of the Les Schwab Invitational six days earlier, suffered a blow Thursday when Hermanson, the Gatorade State Player of the Year as a junior, rolled his right ankle in practice Thursday. With Hermanson on the bench as a precaution, the Lakers rallied behind senior Connor Griffin and beat the fifth-ranked Rams 59-45 to improve to 13-0 on the season.
The win comes four days before a rematch with Jesuit at Jesuit. The Crusaders were represented by coach Gene Potter at Friday's game, which he recorded.
"This game definitely shows our team has depth," said Griffin, a 6-foot-5 post who scored a game-high 16 points. "Add it to our toughness and we feel pretty good about ourselves."
Senior point guard Christian McDonald added 12 points for the Lakers, who shot 21 free throws, making 16.
The Rams, who lost to LO 54-43 in the LSI, opened the game with considerably more energy than the Lakers on the way to their 9-0 lead, but Griffin scored six straight points for the Lakers as they cut the lead to 13-8 by the end of the quarter. In the second quarter, Lake Oswego ran its scoring run to 21-7 and they maintained control of the game thereafter.
Tuesday's game features the top teams in Class 6A, who met for the state title in March, which Jesuit won to run its string of consecutive state titles to four despite Hermanson averaging 28 points per game in the tournament. He has since signed to play at St. Mary's of the West Coast Conference.
Central Catholic dropped to 8-3, and plays host to Jesuit on Friday. The Rams got 12 points from Mitch Franz and 11 from Deonte Strickland.
Crusaders beat Gonzaga Prep from Washington, D.C., will face Lake Oswego
Dec. 28, 2012
Jesuit kept playing itself into the role of undisputed favorite to win a fifth straight Class 6A boys basketball state title with a 61-57 victory over Gonzaga Prep from Washington, D.C., in the semifinals of the Les Schwab Invitational Friday night at Liberty High School.
The win comes one night after the Crusaders beat Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, Calif., in overtime, and sets up a rematch of the state title game from last year when they beat Lake Oswego for their fourth-straight title.
Lake Oswego beat Neumann-Goretti High of Philadelphia in its semifinal.
HILLSBORO - Khyan Rayner scored a game-high 32 points, including six consecutive free throws in overtime, as Jesuit beat Archbishop Mitty 76-72 in the feature game of the second day at the Les Schwab Invitational Thursday at Liberty High School.
Jesuit overcame the Monarchs and 6-foot-8 Aaron Gordon, who had 43 points in a opening-round win against Southridge, in part through free-throw shooting as Gordon went just 3 of 14 from the line.
Gordon, double-team throughout the game, finished with just 17 points. The Crusaders were able to keep him from scoring in the fourth quarter, which ended with the teams tied at 63.
In the tournament's other quarterfinals, Gonzaga Prep of Washington, D.C., beat Century 78-64, Lake Oswego beat Central Catholic 54-43 and Neumann-Goretti of Philadelphia beat West Linn 96-74.