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Watchmen split key Casco games


C.S. Lewis Academy struggles down the stretch against Country Christian, but cooly puts away Jewell in crunch time

With league-leading Country Christian and district playoff contender Jewell both coming to Newberg, C.S. Lewis Academy faced a crucial stretch of its Casco League schedule last week.

Both games came down to who seized the moment down the stretch, which was an area in which the Watchmen struggled mightily a year ago in head coach Vince Swagerty’s first season.

On Jan. 28, it was the Cougars who asserted themselves in critical moments, lifting them to a 79-67 win, but C.S. Lewis responded three days later, putting the pressure on the Blue Jays en route to a 66-59 victory.by: SETH GORDON - Top scorer - Matt Martin led the Watchmen with 21 points in C.S. Lewis' 66-59 victory over Jewell Friday.

“We got some key steals at really key times that made a difference down the stretch,” Swagerty said of the Friday night win. “That’s just part and parcel of what we do: we keep the pressure on and see what happens.”

The first half Jan. 28 was akin to a fireworks show, with Country Christian scoring 25 points in the first quarter only to watch the Watchmen outscore them 19-10 in the second to take a 37-35 halftime lead.

The two teams traded punches in the third, with the visitors scoring the last four points of the quarter to overtake C.S. Lewis for a 51-48 lead with one quarter to play.

The Cougars pushed their lead to seven points to put the pressure on the Watchmen midway through the quarter, but Evan Hager and Matt Martin combined to nail three three-pointers to pull within four at 67-63 with 1:56 to play.

Perhaps pressing a bit too much, C.S. Lewis lost its nerve offensively, rushing threes and turning the ball over, which helped Country Christian score nine consecutive points, including five at the line, to put the game away.

Martin’s 22 points led the effort with Hager adding 20 and Joseph Brooks 16.

“Ultimately, it was turnovers in the second half that really hurt us,” Swagerty said. “Our goal for the game was a dozen turnovers and we were on pace for that at the half, even with that crazy first quarter. We just had fundamental mistakes that cost us possessions.”

Last year, Jewell’s Ryan Harhart sank two free throws to break a late tie and lift the Blue Jays to a victory in Newberg, but the Watchmen were determined to put in a better showing this time around.

C.S. Lewis established a 58-51 point lead late, but could not get a bucket to fall in its next four possessions, allowing Jewell to close the gap to 60-57. Hager responded with a bucket at the other end and Joseph Brooks all but sealed the win with a steal and basket on the next play.

Martin again led the Watchmen with 21 points, with Hager putting up 19 and Brooks 14.

“I was really proud of how well they practiced and how well we competed coming off of a Tuesday loss,” Swagerty said. “One of the goals was to really pick up the intensity and really be more disruptive than we were the last time we played them.”

With the win, the Watchmen (13-7, 7-3 Casco League) knocked Jewell out of a three-way tie for second place, with C.S. Lewis and Crosshill still deadlocked ahead of their Feb. 10 showdown in Newberg. The Watchmen, who will finish second if they can win all four of their final games, traveled to St. Paul Tuesday (results unavailable at press time) and will play at Falls City Friday.

“We just can’t afford to have an off night,” Swagerty said. “We’ve got to go out and play every game like our state tournament depends on it.”