HILLSBORO -- The Jesuit Crusaders shouldn’t have had to worry about a close finish. With a 14-point lead over West Linn heading into the fourth quarter, all they had to do was be smart with their possessions.
But they weren’t, and the game came down to the final minute.
In the end, West Linn’s Micah Garrett couldn’t do enough to bring his team all the way back against the Crusaders (5-3), who rode a strong start to the game to a 77-76 victory over the Lions (4-5) in a consolation game Friday night in the Les Schwab Invitational boys basketball tournament at Liberty High School.
“We started off kind of slow, but the second half we came out and we came back in the game, and I’m proud of that and I’m proud of my team for that,” Garrett said after the game.
Garrett finished with a game-high 34 points and five rebounds. He was the main catalyst for a West Linn team that needed a lifeline late in the game. In the final few possessions, Garrett took over, making multiple tough jumpers and finishing tough shots at the hoop to keep the Lions just close enough.
However, with five seconds remaining in the game, Garrett missed the front end of a pair of free throws that could have potentially tied it.
“I was getting ready to call a timeout to get our last-second shot off for a tie game and see if we could win it at the buzzer, and I was very surprised that it didn’t go in,” Jesuit coach Gene Potter said of Garrett's free throw.
The Crusaders jumped in front early and looked like the better team as they were able to make their shots and distance themselves from the Lions. They made six of their nine three-point baskets in the first half while shooting 62 percent from the field.
“They are incredibly talented and really well-coached, so we knew that we would have to shoot a high percentage," Potter said. “I think in the first half we were over 60 percent from the floor, which is what you have to do. It gave us a little bit of a cushion there, which we needed down the stretch.”
Jesuit guard Matthew Levis played a large role in helping the Crusaders race out front and finished the game with 20 points. On defense, however, it was his job to try to stop the red-hot Garrett throughout the game.
“Will and I knew we needed to lock him down, so we played the best defense we could on him, and we did, but he still hit those shots,” Levis said.
Garrett, however, didn’t feel like anyone could stop him, especially down the stretch.
“I was just feeling it and I needed to keep on getting the ball,” he said. “If I’m feeling it, I’m going to keep on making shots.”
The Crusaders were led by Justin Bieker, who finished the game with 26 points and nine rebounds.
Despite the defeat, Garrett was proud of his team for showing the fight to get back into the game late.
“It shows that we can compete with anybody as long as we play hard,” Garrett said.
Next up the Crusaders will play in the fifth-place game against the Lake Oswego Lakers at 4:30 p.m Saturday. The Lions will play at 1:30 p.m Saturday against the Central Catholic Rams.
“We’re going to need to work on maintaining our tone. The tone throughout the entire game instead of just the first half and free throws,” Levis said. “If it comes down to it, and it’s a close game in the end, we have to have confidence in our shooters, every single one of them on the floor out there, and I have a feeling that we’re going to be ready for the game tomorrow.”
Kyle Pinnell is a junior at Southridge