Posted On: 03/11/18 2:06 PM
It all led up to this. All season long, Jefferson and Grant were the obvious top two teams in the state of Oregon, and although Jefferson swept the three games during the year, Grant played them very close in each one. On the biggest stage, Grant beat Jefferson for the first time this year, 63-62, to be crowned 6A champions. It was a trash-talking, back-and-forth, energetic display of athleticism. Here is what stood out:
(Pictured: Ty Rankin shoots the game-winning free throws with seven seconds left.)
The best performance
The strongest game came in a losing effort. Jefferson’s Khalil Chatman, who has offers to the University of Montana and Detroit Mercy, played like a man possessed, especially under the basket. He finished 13-of-17 for 30 points and 12 rebounds. He had three ferocious dunks and scored all 13 of the Democrats points in the third quarter. Said Jefferson coach Pat Strickland: “We needed one more person to help him out because Khalil pretty much carried us all game long offensively. He did what needed to do and more. We needed some other guys to step up and they didn’t step up.”
The biggest moment
Grant’s Ty Rankin, who put together a terrific game with 22 points and two assists, attacked the rim with seven second left and was fouled by Chatman. He found himself shooting two free throws as Grant trailed by one. As he was all evening, he was cool and collected and nailed both shots to finish 7-of-8 from the line. When Jefferson couldn’t get off a clean final look, his free throws proved to be decisive. Rankin had a few other electric moments, like when he finished a phenomenal up-and-under in the first half, or a transition pull-up three. The 2019 guard showed off his athleticism — as did everyone else in the game — throughout.
Grant as balanced as ever
Aaron Deloney (who has an offer from Portland State), but have largely been balanced by a complete five-man starting rotation. Grant coach Robert Key played his starting five every minute of the first half until midway through the second quarter, when Deloney was called for his third foul. He faced no more foul trouble and the Grant starting five was, once again, a tremendous unit, scoring all 63 points. All five had at least eight points.
A battle on the inside
Jefferson’s bigs are well-known. Kamaka Hepa and Khalil Chatman are both D-I players who make inside scoring difficult for opponents. In the first half, the Democrats led by as many as seven, in part due to challenging Grant shots. Any General shot in the paint had to be done so creatively to avoid the trees of Jefferson; Hepa finished with four blocks and blocked one into the crowd. But Grant had an inside presence of itself. Division I Kelton Samore gobbled up 11 rebounds to go with nine points and was forced to play as big as he could against the two Jefferson beasts.
One of Grant’s best defensive plays came in the first half, when 2018 Darius Guinn swatted a Jeff attempt into the stands.
Disappointment and joy
For Jefferson, it was win-or-bust. They left their second-place medals on the floor of the Chiles Center. Said Chatman: “Without this game, nothing else we did in this season means anything. You could say we accomplished a lot, but in reality, the state championship is the most important piece at the end of the season. Us coming short of that goal is devastating to me and the team.”
For Grant, they were led back with a big third quarter. Darius Guinn and Aaron Deloney both hit big shots in the frame. They each finished 2-of-4 from three-point land for 10 and 14 points, respectively. Damon Hickok added eight points and seven rebounds.
The fourth quarter was as entertaining as it gets. When the final buzzer sounded, Grant was joyous. The Generals united with the Grant community in a mob of chaotic cheer on the floor and another season of high school basketball was in the books.
— Hayes Gardner (@HayesGardner) March 11, 2018
(For more prep hoops coverage, follow @HayesGardner on Twitter.)