It is no surprise that the Barlow boys basketball program in back in the chase for a spot into the 6A state tournament. Their coach, Tom Johnson, is among the top-10 all-time for wins, and the senior backcourt duo of Jesse White and Evan Inglesby are among the most prolific scorers in the state.
White is the repeat scoring champ in the Mount Hood Conference, putting up 27.2 points per game in league, while Inglesby is also scoring at better than a 20-point clip.
"You have to be very conscious of both of those guys every night, and that provides a real luxury for us," Tom Johnson said. "They are both really good at reading the defense off the ball."
The most common ploy used by opposing defenses is to simply shadow one or sometimes both players around the floor in an attempt to limit their touches on the ball.
Despite the extra attention, the duo has continued to put up big numbers often the result of constant motion on the court, coming off multiple screens to get a chance at the hoop. Other times, the defense gets so pre-occupied with stopping White and Inglesby that it leaves other members of the team open for big nights.
"The guys around me are so unselfish. Everyone does their part, and no one cares where the points are coming from," White said.
The Bruins stumbled out of the gate this season, starting out 2-5 against a schedule packed with top-10 foes.
"We knew we were still one of the top teams in the state — we just had to work out some kinks and get back to normal and it's showing," Inglesby said.
Barlow has won 14 straight by an average margin of almost 20 points per game.
After making a run to the 6A semifinals as sophomores, the duo came up one game short of making last year's tournament.
"We're using last season as motivation," Inglesby said. "We expected to be at the Chiles Center, but we got caught looking one game ahead."
This year's crew packed with nine seniors — a group that has been playing together since middle school. They would like their final games together to come on the Chiles Center floor.
"We've been together since fifth grade and we are realizing this is it — there is nothing to hold back," White said. "You look to your left and to your right and see guys you've been running with for the past six, seven, eight years and that forms team chemistry and resiliency."
And this group isn't only putting up impressive numbers on game night. They are also Johnson's highest performing group in the classroom. This year's squad posted a combined 3.68 Grade Point Average this past semester, and yes, Johnson tracks GPA right along with points, assists and rebounds.
"Studies show that kids who are involved in athletics have better attendance and better grades," Johnson said. "I give them all of the credit. We want kids to be good students and good citizens. Academics is going to take them a late further than athletics will."
The Bruins had seven players — Carter Serafini, Drake Payne, Josh Nomie, Jaren Hunter, Nathan Amadio, White and Inglesby — post straight As.
"I've always been taught that good grades will open doors, and I want to be good on the court and also be good in the classroom," White said. "No one wants to be known as the dumb jock."
And just like on the basketball court, both White and Inglesby have hit some buzzer beaters during finals week.
For White, the big test came last year in Pre-Calculus where he went into his final carrying an 89.7 average.
"I put in 15 to 20 hours of studying leading up to that final," White said. "I was just praying that I pulled through because you can go wrong in so many ways when it comes to math."
For Inglesby, it was also advanced math that had him on the fence with a 90 heading into the final.
"That is the most studying I've ever done," Inglesby said. "I've never settled for anything less, putting in the time and studying is mandatory. I figure if you pay attention in class and do the assignments, you should get good grades."
White's favorite class his senior year has been a Green Science unit that is responsible for recycling at the school, using Bottle Drop to fund a handful of college scholarships.
"Jesse is unique in that he is always looking out for other people," Barlow High science teacher April Anderson said. "And his work ethic is the same as you see on the basketball court. He is always checking on his grades and making sure he completed the entire assignment."
Inglesby most enjoys his Global Perspectives course which covers the course of human history.
"Evan is super attentive and engaged in the lectures," Barlow High social studies teacher Mick Dougharity said. "He really has the school part down. He's someone I expect will have a smooth transition to college."
Speaking of college.
White has signed to play next season at Western Oregon University, while Inglesby has agreed to a preferred walk-on role at Gonzaga where his grandfather Bill Suter is a member of the school's Sports Hall of Fame.
Barlow trounces West Salem in opener
The Bruins hit the gas in the middle two quarters to score a 76-59 win over West Salem in the first round of the 6A boys basketball playoffs Wednesday night.
Jesse White hit nine shots, four of them from behind the 3-point arc, during that phase of the game to turn a one-possession game at the end of the first quarter into a 65-42 lead heading into the fourth. White finished with 31 points, while Evan Inglesby poured in 23.
The No. 6-seed Bruins (19-6) host Westview (17-9), tied for second in the Metro, in Saturday's second round.
W. SALEM 12 18 12 17 — 59
BARLOW 15 26 24 11 — 76
West Salem (59) — Jackson Lowery 18, Scoggin 11, Dyson 9, Cogdill 7, Garcia 6, Whipple 5, Lathen 3, Eyre, O'Connor, Gonzalez.
Barlow (76) — Jesse White 31, Inglesby 23, Weber 10, Wolcott 8, Hills 3, Nomie 1, Hunter, Payne, Amadio, Arn, Jones, Serafini.
This story is scheduled for our Friday, March 6, print edition.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.