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PREP HOOPS: Defensive pressure fuels Jefferson boys' win at Barlow

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: PARKER LEE - Silas Melson gets a step on a Barlow defender and takes the ball to the basket in Tuesday night's Democrats road victory.As it turns out, the Jefferson Democrats’ dominance of Oregon boys basketball is not limited to their own classification.

The defending 5A state champions went on the road Tuesday and smoked Barlow of the 6A Mt. Hood Conference 72-55.

Barlow got off to a quick start, sparked by a 3-pointer by Hunter Roeder, and led 9-5 after four minutes.

The Demos’ athleticism then caught up to the Bruins.

Jefferson already was playing tight man-to-man defense, but the Demos took it up a notch and went for steals on almost every Barlow pass.

The Demos forced turnovers and got some fast points in transition. In less than a minute, Jefferson scored 11 in a row to go up 16-9.

By the four-minute mark of the second quarter, Jefferson had stretched its lead to 33-21, and the Demos held a double-digit lead for the rest of the night.

“When we stepped up our pressure defensively, that made the difference after they got some energy,” Jefferson coach Pat Strickland said. “We knew they were going to come out strong, so it was big for us to make that adjustment.”

Silas Melson and Kadeem Strickland teamed up to fuel Jefferson’s first-quarter run with sharp-shooting and penetration.

Melson scored 11 points in the first eight minutes, most of his points coming when he took his defender off the dribble and got to the basket.

Strickland buried two deep 3-pointers during the run, both with Bruins in his face. He drained three more from beyond the arc in the second quarter and had 15 points by halftime.

Strickland finished with 18 points, and Melson led all scorers with 24.

Gabe Barrett added 10 points for Jefferson, Devaunte Paschal had 8, Dario Pap-Vicente scored 6, Sundi Edwards had 4 and Quintus Hall, Jr., added 2.

“We were happy to come away with the win, especially after they had some momentum early,” Strickland said. “We are Jefferson High School, so we know we have a target on our backs against everyone we play, whether they are 5A, 6A or 1A.”