Southridge junior Kyla Vinson contributed eight points off the bench Tuesday.
Southridge junior Kyla Vinson contributed eight points off the bench Tuesday.

BEAVERTON -- No game in the Metro League is easy. Tuesday night’s girls basketball clash between No. 1 Southridge and No. 5 Jesuit was always going to be a tough test for both teams as they looked to build on their early-season successes.

Coming off of three wins in their last four games, the visiting Crusaders (10-3) tried to test the Skyhawks (9-3) with their stingy defense. But in the end, it would be the third quarter that made all the difference as Southridge won 51-41 in a clash of Metro heavyweights.

“There isn’t a bigger test in our state,” Jesuit head coach Jason Lowery said. “That’s the best team in our state, so I thought we had a good first half. I thought we had a great fourth quarter, but it’s that one-third quarter that nipped us in the butt.”

The Crusaders played good defense against the Hawks, who regained the top spot in the OSAAtoday 6A coaches poll after posting victories against Archbishop Mitty in the Nike Tournament of Champions and No. 2 Benson in the Nike Interstate Shootout. 

Southridge star Cameron Brink was held to under five points in a first half where the Hawks scored just 12 points in the first quarter and 21 points overall.

With the game being within a point at halftime, it caused the Skyhawks to reminisce on a 54-50 defeat to No. 4 Tigard on Dec. 7. During the intermission, Southridge coach Michael Bergmann implored his team to increase the intensity and press even harder.

The Skyhawks did just that in the third quarter, blitzing the Crusaders on a 7-0 run en route to outscoring Jesuit 16-2. The Crusaders did not score a single point until just over two minutes remained in the quarter.

When asked about the third quarter run, Bergmann admitted that the Skyhawks should have been pressuring the ball the entire game.

“We’re so long and we got athletic kids, and kids to help in the back, so if we don’t put forth that effort it’s like we’re wasting one of our best attributes,” he said.

Added Southridge junior Kyla Vinson: “We really just wanted to add more ball pressure because at halftime we had a serious talk. It was a one-point game and it gave us memories back to Tigard where it was really close. That made us want to come out hard.”

Whereas the Crusaders made the game interesting in the end -- using an 8-0 run to bring the game back to single-digits with over five minutes remaining -- their third-quarter hole was just too difficult to escape.

“We had a horrible third quarter,” Lowery said. “I think we scored two points, and you’re not going to beat a good team, let alone the state champs, at their place with a two-point quarter.”

Despite the loss, the Crusaders gave other Metro teams a very important lesson. In order to have a chance at beating one of the state’s powerhouse programs, they will need to play a full game and maybe hope for a little luck.

“They are well-coached, they play really hard, and they’re not going to give you what you want,” Bergmann said about the Crusaders. “They made it hard to get the ball where we wanted to get it, and they are going to give us a shot that we don’t really want. In that way, it’s a good test for us to be a team and focus.”