The Bruins force four early lead changes before losing ground in the second half vs. Jefferson

OUTLOOK PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Barlows Austin Forrar attacks the rim for a layup in the first quarter on his way to 14 points on the night.

State semifinals

Team Score
#1 Jefferson (26-4)
Barlow (19-9)

PORTLAND — The Barlow boys basketball team held its own with No. 1-ranked Jefferson most of the way before losing touch over the last 10 minutes in an 80-60 loss in Friday's 6A semifinals.

Barlow came out and aggressively attacked the basket in the first quarter highlighted when senior Austin Forrar put on a spin move in the lane and rode the back of his defender while tossing the ball through the hoop to bring the Bruins within one.

"They knew we liked to launch 3s, and they were all over our guards," Forrar said. "It was my job to drive the ball, attack their big man (Kamaka Hepa) and hopefully get him into some foul trouble."

Jefferson's 6 foot, 10 inch center managed to stay on the floor, but the Bruins' strategy forced him away from the basket. He was matched up most often with Barlow's Dominic Jacoby, who floated around the perimeter and hit a pair of 3s that pulled Hepa out of the paint. Jacoby's second long ball from near the sideline gave the Bruins their final lead 19-17 late in the first quarter.

"We tried to stretch the court and create some opportunities to penetrate," Barlow coach Tom Johnson said.

The Democrats ended the first with a three-point lead after K'lum Stickland beat the horn with a fadeaway from the right side on his only shot of the night.

Barlow tied it up to start the second quarter when Jaren Hunter pulled down an offensive rebound, and whipped the ball into the corner for Evan Inglesby, who in turn found Jared Vedus on the far side of the court for a 3-pointer.

"It was exciting to be going up against the No. 1 team, and we knew we had to come out with high energy to make it a battle," Forrar said.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Barlows Daello Portin-Chapman goes airborne behind the basket to avoid Jefferson defenders Robert Ford, 20, and Romeo Akil.

Jefferson would regain the edge with a big effort on the boards, showcased on one possession where giants Hepa and Khalil Chatman took turns at both sides of the rim — four straight rebounds followed by shots that kept sliding off the rim before Hepa finally saw a fifth chance trickle through the net.

Hepa hit a rare 3-pointer to put the Democrats up seven late in the first half.

Barlow held for the final shot, but was unable to get the ball into the hands of White, who Strickland was tracking all over the court. The possession ended with a turnover and a half-court heave by the Democrats that missed the mark.

Forrar started the third quarter with a second-chance bucket that pulled the Bruins within five, but that was as close as they would get.

Keylin Vance connected on a pair of 3s to stretch the lead to double digits.

Barlow kept battling, most notably when Hunter tied up Hepa on a loose ball under the basket. He ended up falling on top of the University of Texas commit, but kept his grasp on the ball to force the turnover. Hunter converted it into points when he hit Inglesby in stride for a layup at the other end.

"We wanted to stay in the game and give ourselves a shot at the end," Johnson said.

The Bruins got a boost at the end of the quarter when Cole Edmondson drove the baseline and got an off-balance layup to fall through the net at the buzzer.

"They know I'm a shooter, so I put up a fake, saw and opening and tossed up a wacky shot," Edmondson said.

Still, Barlow trailed by 10 heading into the fourth.

"We were hoping to be closer at that point, but we still felt like we were hanging with them," Edmondson said.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Barlows Evan Inglesby puts the brakes on a drive during the first half.

The Democrats would not let Barlow get within striking distance down the stretch, expanding their lead to 16 points when Keylin Vance spun through the lane for a layup with less than five minutes to play.

"They are so athletic and they were able to take us out of our comfort zone," Johnson said. "Against a team like that when you give up turnovers and layups it's going to make things difficult."

Jefferson held the Bruins to 24 of 66 (.364) shooting, and outscored the Bruins by 11 at the free-throw line.

Jefferson (26-3) plays Grant (24-4) in the 6A championship game at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Chiles Center, while Barlow (19-9) takes on Lincoln (18-10) in the third-place game at 6:45 p.m.

"Obviously, we want to end the season with a win — that would be good for the kids," Johnson said.

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BARLOW 19 14 18 9 — 60

JEFFERSON 22 18 21 19 — 80

Barlow (60) — Jesse White 15, Austin Forrar 14, Dominic Jacoby 8, Evan Inglesby 8, Daello Portin-Chapman 5, Cole Edmondson 5, Jared Vedus 3, Jaren Hunter 2, Lowery, Oetting, Nomie, Koenig.

Jefferson (80) — Kamaka Hepa 23, Keylin Vance 17, Jalen Brown 16, Khalil Chatman 13, Robert Ford 6, Romeo Akil 3, K'lum Strickland 2, Turner, Graves, Taylor, Rawlins-Kibonge.

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