Jesuit High had two brilliant stretches of defense Friday night against Aloha High.

In the first stretch, the Crusaders were unable to capitalize offensively and allowed the game to remain tight. Jesuit got it right in the second stretch— at the beginning of the fourth quarter—and pulled away for the 39-25 road win.

With the victory Jesuit (14-8, 6-3) clinched third place in the Metro League and automatic berth in the 6A state playoffs. Aloha (3-6, 11-12) will host a “play-in” game on Saturday. With a win on Tuesday and a loss by Southridge, the Warriors would be fourth in Metro.

“We were organized defensively,” Jesuit coach Jason Lowery said. “We’re pretty long, so we were able to bother them. Whenever we had good possessions offensively it turned into good defensive possessions. When we didn’t play good offense, it led to some breakdowns and transitional buckets for them.”

The key stretch for the Crusaders came in the fourth quarter. With Jesuit clinging to a 30-27 lead at the end of the third quarter, the Crusaders played bulletproof defense throughout the final period, holding Aloha to just two points in the quarter. The Warriors went scoreless for the first 4:21 of the final period, allowing Jesuit to build its lead to 37-23 before Aloha finally made a field goal.

“We were having better offensive possessions which allowed us to be balanced defensively,” Lowery said.

The Crusaders (14-8) also began the game flawlessly on defense. Aloha had four points in the first four minutes of the opening period. The Crusaders then held the Warriors scoreless until the 2:54 mark in the second period. The only problem was, Jesuit offense was stagnant.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Jesuit Crusaders wing Connie Parker (3) heads up court against Aloha Warriors guard Noheaililani Waiwaiole (12) in the first half at Aloha High School.

The Crusaders had a 7-4 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 15-13 advantage.

“We were sloppy offensively,” Lowery said. “But, that’s what playing defense will do. It will keep you afloat when your offense looks like it was looking.”

Jesuit did not allow anyone on Aloha to reach double figures. Makenzie Johnsen led the Warriors with nine points and Noheaililani Waiwaiole added eight points.

In the third quarter things opened up a bit more for both teams. Aloha (11-11) started hitting some of its open shots. Jesuit began running through its offense more effectively and getting the ball to 6-foot-1 sophomore post Alzena Henry.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Aloha Warriors guard Mackenzie Sibert (20) brings the ball up court against Jesuit Crusaders guard Lexi Barker (24) in the first half at Aloha High School.

“We changed the size of the floor and we got it to (Henry),” Lowery said. “Alzena got some buckets and it caused some tension and it got other people some baskets.”

Henry finished the night with nine points.

“I tried to be strong with the ball,” Henry said. “I stayed focused and did what I practice every day.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Aloha Warriors guard Mackenzie Sibert (20) drives he baseline against Jesuit Crusaders power forward Alzena Henry (25) in the first half at Aloha High School.

Henry’s presence in the post in the second half drew Aloha’s focus away from other Crusader players.

It especially helped sophomore guard Kate Andersen who led all scorers with 12 points.

“When we started getting Alzena (Henry) open in the post, that opened up a lot of drives and I hit my shots,” Andersen said.

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