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BY STEVE BRANDON/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/Sheaffer takes over the scoring duties, and Crusaders shut down their 'Holy' rival in 6A boys tournament

A close game turned into a Jesuit runaway Wednesday as the Crusaders charged into the Class 6A boys basketball semifinals at Chiles Center.

Jesuit, down by seven points early in the second quarter, beat rival Central Catholic 64-38 in the state quarterfinals.

"Pretty exciting to win that first one and guarantee yourself two more," Jesuit coach Gene Potter said. "The boys played great."

Central Catholic led 24-23 at halftime. But after that, Jesuit shot 71 percent from the field and took away all the suspense.

"It was lights out for us," Potter said.

Jesuit (21-6) will meet the No. 1 seed Lake Oswego (23-4), in the 1:30 p.m. Friday semifinal. The Lakers took down Oregon City 69-30 in an even more lopsided contest that opened the tournament.

Central Catholic (21-6) dropped into the consolation bracket and will face Oregon City (19-8) at 9 a.m. Thursday.

"This really hurts," Rams coach David Blue admitted.

Central Catholic had won 17 games in a a row.

Blue said he told his players "to let the hurt soak in, take a moment to feel it … none of these guys has ever been here before. Then get past your feelings, because we've got another game in the morning, and we've had a really good season and have an opportunity for two more (victories), and we can have one of the highest win totals in Central Catholic history.

"So that needs to be the mission. We've come too far to finish the season the way that played out" in the second half against Jesuit.

It was a tooth-and-nail first half. The Rams had the best of the first quarter and led 13-8 after eight minutes. Jesuit fell behind 15-8, then stormed back to take the lead.

Just inside the final minute of the half, senior Tyson Parker hit a 3-pointer from the right corner for the Rams, and Justin Bieker of Jesuit answered with a midrange jumper.

Potter said the Jesuit plan was to "just have quality possessions early, don't fall in a hole, let the game come to you. We tried to focus on not just jacking up 3's to start the game, which is kind of hard, because that's what we do -- we're a 3-point shooting team."

The Crusaders took those words to heart in the first half, though 6-1 senior guard Will Sheaffer went the extra mile on offense. Not normally a big scorer, he poured in 16 of his game-high 22 points to help Jesuit stay close.

Then came the pivotal third quarter. Jesuit outscored the Rams 20-7 to build a lead of 43-30.

Things got steadily worse for Central Catholic in the fourth quarter. The Crusaders scored the opening basket and were up 50-30 with six minutes to go.

"We were really solid on the defensive end. That's where it always starts," Potter said. "Then we started putting it in the basket. Possession by possession, the guys were great."

Jesuit's confidence and swagger seemed to grow as the Rams looked more deflated.

"We had a lead in the first half, but we got away from what we were trying to do," Blue said. "We were pretty good on defense, but we couldn't get a rebound — every rebound and 50-50 ball, Jesuit came up with.

"We could have put a stamp on the game."

After halftime, "we had bad offensive possessions," Blue said. "We got tight, missed some shots at the rim and passed up some looks we normally take and knock down.

"Then it affected us at the defensive end. We had some lapses on some back cuts, and they spread us out a little bit, and we got a little tired and had some bad rotations."

The difference in experience probably showed, too. Jesuit has a senior-laden team. Central Catholic had one senior starter, one sophomore and three juniors.

Added up, "we hit a wall we couldn't come back from," Blue said.

The emotions on the court were strong, especially the positive ones for Jesuit as the Crusaders began to assert their will (pun intended).

"That was huge," 6-0 junior guard Matthew Levis said of the win. "Over the years, Central's been our rival, everyone knows that. Jesuit-Central. Holy War.

"Coming into this game, I had people come up to me, I had school teachers come up to me, and say, 'Hey, man, huge game for you. You guys play well, you can take it the whole way.'

"I took that to heart. Our coaches just reiterated that. They said, 'If you guys play together and you love each other and do whatever you need to do to win this game, no one can stop you.'"

For much of the game, the Rams weren't able to stop Shaeffer.

He finished 8 of 10 from the field and was 4 for 4 at the foul line.

"Scoring is not what I usually do, but whatever I have to do to win," he said.

"Shaeffer put his head down and put the team on his back," Levis said. "I respect him for that. Him doing that for us means a lot to all of us.

"He came up to me before the second half and was like, 'Hey, man, I'll keep shooting, but you want to help me out a little bit?"

Also for Jesuit, Aiden Williams scored 13 points, Justin Bieker dropped in 12, and Levis had 11.

The Crusaders, adept at making the extra pass for a better shot, hit 55.3 percent from the field and were 6 of 12 on 3-pointers.

Central Catholic shot 38.1 percent overall and went 3 of 14 (21.4 percent) on 3-pointers.

Potter had praise for his defense, including that of Sheaffer, with a nod to his often dormant scoring potential.

"There's a reason why he's averaging six points per game and he's second-team all-Metro League -- coaches recognize what he can do," Potter said.

SataieVior Ayilola, the Rams' 6-7 junior post, was 7 of 9 from the floor and had 16 points, despite some foul trouble.

Jesuit played Lake Oswego on Dec. 11 and lost 53-51. The teams met again on Dec. 29, and the Crusaders won 63-57.

"There's no secrets. Everybody knows everybody," Sheaffer said of the semifinal matchup.

Potter said Jesuit's game plan will be similar to what it was for Central Catholic.

"Be physical, don't give up too many second-shot opportunities, and make some shots at the other end. They (the Lakers) have so many offensive weapons," he said. "And they've improved a ton since the last time we played them. I'm just hoping we have as well."

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