St. Paul earns clutch win over C.S. Lewis
maining Jan. 8, the C.S. Lewis boys basketball team trailed St. Paul by three on the road. After a competitive, occasionally sloppy game, the Watchmen were looking to force overtime in their first game back from winter break.
But Jacob More's inbounds pass hit the rafters of the Bucks' gym and that was that.
The Buckaroos won 51-48, picking up an important Casco League victory in the process.
"It was a good win," SPHS coach Todd Swan said. "We still control our own destiny in terms of league playoffs."
The game remained within single digits for its entirety. St. Paul maintained a slim lead for a large portion of the first and second quarters, but the Watchmen pulled even 23-23 at the break.
The Bucks' leading scorer, Jaidyn Jackson, was held to three points in the first half and nine total. C.S. Lewis constantly switched its defense from a 2-3 zone to man-to-man, forcing an arrhythmic outing from Jackson and St. Paul on the offensive end. Defensively, however, the Bucks got their hands in passing lanes and forced myriad turnovers out of their full court press.
"There was a lot of energy defensively in the first half," Swan said. "I thought we played really well on that end of the court. We did have a difficult time with (Micah) Grobey, though. He's a load. If you play off him he can shoot, and if you play up on him he'll lower the shoulder and drive right past you."
Grobey – the all-time leading scorer for the Watchmen – scored 29 points, 18 in the second half. As the third quarter progressed, Grobey became more aggressive and drove to the basket at will. That, along with More's three-point shooting, kept the game competitive.
C.S. Lewis struggled to defend the interior in the fourth quarter, however, playing without 6-foot-4 shot-blocker extraordinaire Jacob McClatchey, who fouled out at the start of the final frame. Avoiding "silly fouls" is an area on which Watchmen need to improve, CSLA coach Brett Vernon said.
Despite missing its best rebounder and defensive presence, C.S. Lewis had multiple chances to win the game – and it even took the lead a few times. With 4:07 remaining in the fourth quarter, More pulled up for a fade away three-pointer over the closing defender, sending the ball up with tremendous arc. It swished, giving C.S. Lewis a 47-46 lead.
"We want him to shoot as much as he can," Vernon said. "He only made four tonight, but I know he can have seven or eight. I have the utmost faith in him."
Free throw shooting was nearly disastrous for St. Paul down the stretch. The officials let the two teams play all night, but a handful of obvious fouls sent the Bucks to the charity stripe, where they went a meager 4-of-11 in the fourth quarter. Had they knocked down a few more, the complexion of the game could have completely changed.
Instead, C.S. Lewis had two opportunities to tie in the final seconds. The first was a midrange jumper by Grobey that missed the rim, and the other was squandered when More's full court pass hit the rafters and was ruled out of bounds.
Justin Herberger finished with 17 points and seven rebounds to lead the Bucks. Eric Diaz chipped in 11 to go along with four assists, four rebounds and six steals.
Swan said the Bucks might have been caught looking ahead to their Jan. 9 game at Moda Center during the match up with C.S. Lewis, leading to some of its lackluster moments He noted there is plenty of room to improve as St. Paul powers through the final two months of the regular season.
"We choose when we want to play defense and that has to be a full-time deal," he said. "Offensively, we've got to do what we are used to doing: Push the ball up the court. Overall, we're right where we need to be this time of year and we still have our best basketball to come."
Editor's note: In the time since their Jan. 8 match up, both C.S. Lewis and St. Paul have played three games apiece and gone 2-1.
C.S. Lewis (11-5, 7-1 Casco League) defeated Portland Waldorf 52-31, lost to Mohawk 53-26 and beat Crosshill Christian 57-50.
St. Paul (11-5, 7-1) lost 52-42 to Sherman in a game played at Moda Center, beat Crosshill Christian 54-51 and Falls City 56-36.
The Bucks and Watchmen are in a three-way tie with Perrydale (11-5, 7-1) for the top spot in the Casco League standings. C.S. Lewis looks ahead to matchups with Falls City and Oregon School for the Deaf on Wednesday (Jan. 16) and Saturday, and St. Paul plays Wilamette Valley Christian on Friday.