Poise and experience was the difference Tuesday night, Dec. 7, in a showdown of two top 10 teams in Class 6A.
Visiting No. 2 Jesuit High girls basketball hung on to down No. 6 Benson 60-54 on the campus of former Marshall High School as the Techsters' building is under construction.
With a starting lineup of three sophomores for Benson and a poised, junior guard combo of Emma Sixta and Avery Edwards for Jesuit, the Crusaders took a lead in the second quarter and never gave it back.
A big reason for that was the play of Sixta, who went 10 for 10 from the free throw line, eight of which came in the second half, en route to a game-high 27 points.
"She's super savvy, she's super tough," Jesuit coach Jason Lowery said of Sixta. " And she has as good of a feel for the game I've coached in 25 years."
In the first half, Sixta kept the Crusaders in it by hitting three 3-pointers to try and stem the momentum that Benson sophomore Mahogany Chandler-Roberts brought and give Jesuit a 31-25 lead at the break.
The Benson forward went into halftime with 15 points and six rebounds. She finished the night with 22 and nine.
"She's a special talent. I've never coached a kid like her in my coaching career here at Benson," Benson coach Eric Knox said of Chandler-Roberts. "She can play on the block, she can put it on the floor. She's just got to keep getting more and more confidence."
Confidence was what Knox pointed to as the difference Tuesday night and the runs certainly showed it.
In the second, third and fourth quarters, Jesuit built larger leads only to have Benson come back and make the score a possession contest.
But each time, the Crusaders found an answer through the tough Techsters' full-court press and tenacious defense.
"I told my team, Benson plays us hard and as physically as anyone in the state," Lowery said. "I knew their girls were going to bring it and it was just about matching their intensity and taking that wave of fight they were going to give us."
When it wasn't Sixta nailing threes or cutting to the hoop for a layup or getting fouled, it was her fellow junior guard in Edwards breaking the Benson press and pushing the Crusaders up court.
Edwards hit three 3-pointers as well in the first half and finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
"How hard you have to play to beat good teams," Lowery said on what his team can learn from the early test. "We learn how necessary it is to play hard. We play hard naturally, but it's another step for this group to beat a good team like this on the road."
Benson (0-1) certainly looked the part of a good team as the matchup was the Techsters' season opener while Jesuit (4-0) came in 3-0.
Consistency was the issue, but Knox was happy with his team not giving up when the Jesuit runs certainly would have made it easy for a young squad.
"From last year to this year, you could see that they took a step," Knox said. "We still got a long way to go to play Benson basketball. But there were some promising things that I saw tonight. I think if we clean up some things we'll be a tough team down the stretch."
Benson, the technical defending state champions from 2019 when the last OSAA sanctioned state tournament was played out, won't have to wait too long to get back out as it plays at 7 p.m. at Camas (Washington) on Friday, Dec. 10.
Jesuit takes its undefeated mark back home for a 5:30 p.m. tipoff Friday against rival Central Catholic.
"We got practice tomorrow, we gotta get better," Lowery said. "We have stuff we gotta clean up. It's only Dec. 7, we've got a lot of work to do. But this was a good step."
Other Multnomah County scores
Hood River Valley (2-1) 47, Gresham (0-2) 46
Newberg (2-1) 52, McDaniel (0-1) 37
St. Mary's Academy (1-2) 56, Central Catholic (1-1) 28
Roosevelt vs. Nelson, canceled
Cleveland (2-0) 62, David Douglas (1-2) 25
Oregon (1-0) 46, Grant (0-3) 22
The Dalles (1-1) 48, Parkrose (0-3) 12
Portland Christian (2-2) 43, Portland Adventist Academy (1-2) 28
Mannahouse Christian Academy (1-2) 44, Crosshill Christian (0-4) 26
Clackamas at Jefferson
De La Salle North Catholic vs. King's Way Christian (Washington)
Lincoln (2-0) 70, Reynolds (0-2) 43
Gresham (1-0) 91, Crook County (0-3) 57
Parkrose (1-1) 65, The Dalles (0-1) 64
Portland Adventist Academy (2-1) 67, Portland Christian (0-4) 30
Crosshill Christian (3-1) 59, Mannahouse Christian Academy (3-1) 48
Columbia Christian (2-2) 44, Trinity Academy (0-2) 31
Cleveland at La Salle Prep
Century at Franklin
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