Jesuit boys basketball escapes Clackamas challenge 59-55
Seriously, what more could you ask for?
On just the second day of the 2021-22 winter season, we got a matchup between two of Oregon's top high school boys basketball teams — Jesuit and Clackamas — big plays, huge momentum swings and, ultimately, a 59-55 non-league win by the Crusaders at Clackamas High School.
"I thought the key was defense, coaching and practice, how we go hard in practice and in the game," said Jesuit junior wing Isaiah Crane, who led his team with 21 points on 8 of 16 shooting from the field (including two 3-pointers) and a 3 of 6 day at the foul line. "It's all about defense, knowing each other and chemistry."
"We had some adversity. We came back from Eugene last night and everybody got home (late) and we knew we had a tough opponent the next day," said senior wing Tyree Blake, who added 14 points on 5 of 10 shooting from the field and a 4 of 6 day at the free throw line, along with four rebounds, three assists and two steals. "We just … listened to coach (Gene) Potter, who had a very good game plan, and we executed that and we came out with the win."
The second-ranked Crusaders won for the second straight time in 2021 and improved to 2-0 overall. No. 16 Clackamas lost its season opener and fell to 0-1 overall.
Despite the setback, the Cavaliers — who cut Jesuit's lead to a single point with 30 seconds remaining — knew how close they'd come and how well they'd played.
"(Losing the first game) is obviously not what you want, but I think we got a lot better from that game," said Clackamas senior guard Jackson Jaha, who paced the Cavaliers with 21 points on 7 of 14 shooting from the field (including three 3-pointers) and a 4 of 4 day at the foul line, along with four rebounds and one steal. "I'm proud of the way we played."
"We worked hard as a team and we played through toughness," said junior guard Garrett Strube, who added 11 points on 4 of 7 shooting from the field (including one "three") and a 2 of 2 day at the free throw line, along with three assists and two rebounds. "We battled adversity and played as a team."
Clackamas led most of the way in the first quarter before settling for a 13-13 tie, and was still within 22-20 with 2:34 remaining in the opening half before falling behind 27-20 at the break.
But the Crusaders, who forced 14 turnovers in the game, took control in the second half and built double-digit leads in both the third and fourth quarters.
In the third quarter, Jesuit outscored Clackamas 18-10 in the first 6:51 of the period, with Blake's stop-and-go drive on the fast break pushing his team's lead to 45-30 with 1:09 left in the period.
Down 12 entering the fourth quarter, Clackamas closed within 46-41 when junior Tyler King hit three foul shots in a span of 1:18, the last two of those with 4:49 to play.
Then, when the Crusaders extended their lead to 53-43 on senior Mack Wall's two free throws with 3:10 to go, it looked like it was all over.
But no one told the Cavaliers. They responded with a 10-1 scoring run over a span of 2:20, getting an inside hoop from King assisted by Strube, a pull-up 3-pointer by senior Levi Simmonds, a baseline jump shot over two Jesuit defenders by Jaha, and a catch and shoot "three" by senior Forrest Reyes to close within 54-53 with 30 seconds remaining.
Jesuit made sure Clackamas got no closer, though, hitting 3 of 4 foul shots on one possession, then adding a breakaway by Crane to seal its victory.
"The key was just pushing the ball up more on the fast breaks," Blake said. "When we pushed the ball up and played defense, we got steals. We played solid and we executed — that was the key."
"I feel like a lot of people have been doubting us, but we've just got a lot of heart on our team," Jaha said. "We've got a lot of competitors. I'm proud of the way we played today."
For Jesuit, junior Cade Collins added 11 points and Wall seven. For Clackamas, Simmonds added eight points in the loss.
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