Top-ranked Jesuit too much for Century boys in playoff opener, 76-43
There's a reason they're number one.
Century, still riding the high of making the postseason, arrived at Jesuit with high hopes as the No. 32-seed, of competing with the top-ranked Crusaders in the first round of the OSAA state playoffs. Unfortunately for the Jags, Jesuit had high hopes as well — with the talent to make it happen.
The home Crusaders started slow, but after they got going they had little trouble dismantling underdog Century, defeating the Jaguars 76-43 Wednesday night, March 4, at Jesuit High School.
After playing to a 12-12 tie midway through the first quarter, Jesuit scored the stanza's final 13 points, then steadily pulled away en route to a relatively easy first round win.
Led by Liam Ruttledge's 18 points, along with four others in double figures, the Crusaders methodically put to bed any thoughts of a Century upset with fundamental defense, silky 3-point shooting, and the type of composure you'd expect from a defending state champion.
"They just make you pay for every mistake," Century guard Edidem Essien said. "Turnovers, missed shots, back door, they just get you in every way."
Century head coach Scott Kellar echoed his guard's sentiments, but added one key element — their talent.
"They're disciplined, they play together, they can all get to the hoop, and shoot the three," he said. "They're just good all-around basketball players."
Evidenced by their 12-12 tie, the Jags hung around early, getting baskets from Ikin Chan, Jospin Mugisha, and an inspired effort from sophomore Kyle Hamnes. But with help from a series of Century turnovers, the experienced Crusaders proved to be just too much for the Jaguars to handle.
"We tried to hang around, but they went on one of their patented Jesuit runs," Kellar said. "We started turning it over and they were getting lay-ups at the other end, and they just don't come back to you."
And they didn't.
Jesuit led 25-12 after one quarter, 39-22 at the half, and 56-33 at the end of the third. Every time Century would string together a couple of baskets, the Crusaders would respond with a Ruttledge bomb, Mike Brittingham drive to the hoop, or Cooper Kollas midrange jumper, all of which proved fatal for a Jaguars team simply overmatched.
"They're just really tough to guard," Kellar said. "You can't play 'em tight, you can't play off of them."
The coach went on to say that they tried to mix up their defenses to combat the Jesuit attack, and it even worked at times. In addition, offensively they tried to slow the game down and lengthen possessions in an effort to limit Crusader opportunities, but in the end none of it could put more than a dent in the Jesuit armor, and that's just good on them.
"It's really just a credit to them," Kellar said.
Despite the loss the coach was proud of his team on this night, and for their work this season.
"I'm so proud of the kids," he said. "We got an extra game and that was a goal for these guys. They've worked hard and should be proud to be in the bracket."
Kellar also spoke to the growth he saw in this year's squad, not just this year, but over the last three, and just a couple years removed from a five-win season. Century lost five games by less than eight points this year, and the coach said he felt they were really just a play or two away from winning 15-plus games.
"Our older kids really set the tone for the whole year," the coach said. "There were really only a couple games we didn't have a chance in, and that's a credit to the seniors. They only won five games as sophomores, so to see them progress and make the state playoffs, that's pretty cool."
The Jaguars lose key contributors like Chan and Mugisha, along with forward Chance Sparks. But with guards Hamnes and Essien returning, in addition to Keallum Colburn and post Ethan Parish, next year's team will look different, but also capable in a league that certainly can be had.
"I feel pretty good about it," Essien said. "We're still pretty guard-heavy, but we have some returners and we need to put in work in the offseason, but we can be pretty good."
Kellar too was optimistic, but knows that despite a bit of a foundation, it always comes down to the work.
"Kyle (Hamnes) and Eddie (Essien) give us a good backcourt to start with, and Keallum (Colburn) played well," the coach said. "Ethan can also give us some stuff inside, so there's some pieces to work with, but guys are going to have to work extremely hard to make the next step."
Century scorers included: Essien 14, Hamnes 11, Chan 9, Mugisha 5, Sparks 2, Parish 2.
Jesuit scorers included: Ruttledge 18, Brittingham 13, James Lang 11, Roy Bunn 10, Kollas 10, Matt Levis 7, Kyle Ferrero 4, Aidan Corbitt 3.
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