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Posted On: 03/10/19 1:12 AM
It would be cliche to term it as David against Goliath, but there’s no question that Jesuit came into the 6A state title game as an underdog to Jefferson. The Crusaders had even lost to the Democrats in the very first game of the season. But the tide was turned in the final game of the year as Jesuit relied on big plays from their seniors and caught fire in the fourth quarter to win the championship, 71-66.
“This group of young men had to play at absolutely the maximum of their ability level every night in this tournament to give us a chance to win,” said Jesuit head coach Gene Potter. “Obviously they did that tonight against an incredible Jesuit team. It was going to take our A+ game so we decided to bring that and see what happens.”
Jefferson for sure had the size advantage with big men Nate Rawlins-Kibonge and Kamron Robinson, but it was actually some key three-point shooting by senior Keylin Vance that kept the Demos in the ballgame early. The game remained close in the third quarter but Jesuit started to catch fire in the fourth. A traditional three-point play and a long range bomb from Aiden Williams midway through gave Jesuit a three point lead and teammate Justin Bieker made a bunch of free throws down the stretch to seal Jesuit’s first championship since 2012.
For Jefferson, it was a tough end to a season in which they were anointed the favorites from day one. The Demos were arguably the most talented and deepest team in the state and they were hoping to avenge their loss in the state title game last year to Grant, using that as motivation all year long. Jefferson was able to get Grant back in the route of eight but ultimately they just weren’t able to get it done for one more game.
“Jesuit came out with a lot of fire,” said Jefferson head coach Pat Strickland. “We didn’t match their energy, we didn’t match their toughness. We won the rebound battle by double digits and I thought that could have helped us out but we didn’t do a lot of the other little things to win a championship.”
Justin Bieker led Jesuit with 22 points while Aiden Williams added 20. Marcus Tsohonis and Keylin Vance led Jesuit with 16 points each and Nate Rawlins-Kibonge finished off a spectacular tournament with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocked shots.