Bill Long 3/12/05
Putting the Oregon Schoolboy Championships in Perspective
Jesuit won the 1999 4A basketball championship and, despite losing graduating senior Michael Dunleavy, planned to have even a stronger team in 2000. Michael McGrain, Brian Michaelson, Vic Remmers and others would bring Jesuit the elusive repeat trophy. But, they had to contend with a Jefferson Democrat team that was ranked 4th in the nation, and which counted the two future D-1 juniors (Aaron Miles and Michael Lee) as the lesser players on a star-studded roster (with Brandon Brooks, Jon Tinnon and Andre Jarrell). Jefferson beat Jesuit twice by the narrowest of margins, once in the Christmas Les Schwab tourney and once in the state semifinals (before there were seedings in the tournament). In order to assure that this kind of loss never happened again, Jesuit managed to land the three Tarver brothers, along with Derry Jackson, and thus, with an "integrated" team, figured they would be able to handle the likes of anything the state threw at them over the next seven or eight years. Thus there were more stars in the Jesuit pipeline than Alaska had oil in its pipes in these years.
Yet the stars were in rare alignment for Churchill of Eugene in 2001, with the Worcester brothers (the two older at least), Jordan Kent and the two big guys in the middle (Rohde and Summers), along with a solid backup post in Jared Alsup. This team won the state crown by the largest point margin ever, handing Benson their heads in a 32-point loss. It should be noted, however, that Benson had just heroically eliminated Jefferson and the Kansas-bound duo of Miles and Lee in a hard-fought game the night before and were probably in no shape to face the Lancers. Jesuit had been fully demoralized by Churchill in the Les Schwab tournament at Christmas 2000 and quietly bowed out without giving a serious threat in 2001.
But everyone knew that Jesuit would win in 2002 and probably for several years after that. The reason was that the oldest Tarver (Zack) was an athletic 6-4 sophomore, that the next one (Josh) was already pouring in points as a freshman, and they had the co-Metro-League Player of the Year in Scott Daughterty, a dangerous outside shooter. When you combined this with the scrappy play of Derry Jackson and a host of bruising Irishmen, Jesuit had its way with almost everyone. They were leading Tigard in the finals by several points, but a clutch 3-pointer by Ryan Gabel sent the game into overtime. A charged-up Tigard team ran away from Jesuit in the overtime, thus preventing Jesuit from reclaiming their state title.
2003 and 2004 were also disappointing stories, despite the maturing of the Tarver brothers and the addition of possibly the best of the three, 6-5 post Seth. But the unheralded Redmond team became the first team East of the Cascades to win the state since the 1960s, and Maary Leunen, a junior in 2003, was on everyone's lips as Redmond cruised through the tournament. Jesuit was having problems in its own league from an unlikely source: Hillsboro. Hillsboro had never been known as a basketball power, but the addition of James Loe, who spent his middle school days in Salem doing incredible athletic feats, managed to propel Hillsboro into the state championship game against Redmond in 2003. Then, in 2004, Jesuit was again knocked out of the tournament, this time by Redmond, and everyone just knew that Redmond would repeat as champ. But it didn't happen. South Salem emerged as the surprise winner. It was fortunate for South in 2004 that they had the "easier" bracket; they never could get within 10 points of Jesuit when they played them earlier--thankfully, others got rid of Jesuit in 2004 so that South could coast to victory against an exhausted Redmond team.
Which brings us to 2005. Jesuit was the big favorite, but with Jesuit's track record of the previous four years, and with the uncertainty regarding how much Kevin Love might dominate, the game was up for grabs. Indeed, I was even wondering whether Jesuit might have been there once too often and possibly had a "championship phobia" or something like that, that might keep them from winning this year. And, that proved almost to be the case. Indeed, after one period Lake Oswego was ahead 13-3, probably the lowest point total that Jesuit had in any period this year. And, the halftime score, 29-12, showed that Lake Oswego was really pulling away with it.
But Jesuit gave an indication early in the 2nd quarter what it might be able to do if given a chance, and it was ultimately the strategy pursued in the 2nd quarter--press relentlessly, push the ball up the floor on offense and work for open three pointers, which turned the tide for them in the fourth quarter.
I didn't think I would need a third essay, but I was wrong. Click here for my comments on the rest of the game.
Copyright © 2004-2007 William R. Long