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PREP WATCH: Jesuit girls separate from Aloha

Jesuit High's girls basketball team 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, though, at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and pulled away for a 39-25 Metro League road win.

“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.”

Jesuit has won four in a row and is No. 10 in the Oregon School Activities Association Class 6A rankings.

The key stretch for the Crusaders (6-3, third in the Metro) came in the fourth quarter. With Jesuit clinging to a 30-27 lead through three periods, the Crusaders played bulletproof defense, holding Aloha (3-6, tied for fourth) to two points.

The Warriors went scoreless for the first 4:21 of the final frame, and Jesuit built 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. The Crusaders then held the Warriors scoreless until the 2:54 mark in the second period.

The only problem was, Jesuit's offense was impotent. The Crusaders had a 7-4 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 15-13 lead at the half.

“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 in scoring. Makenzie Johnsen led the Warriors with nine points, and Noheaililani Waiwaiole added eight.

In the third quarter, things opened up a bit more for both teams. Aloha (11-12) finally started hitting some open shots and Jesuit began running its offense more effectively and getting the ball to 6-1 sophomore post Alzena Henry.

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

Henry finished with nine points.

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

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 open in the post, that opened up a lot of drives, and I hit my shots,” Andersen said.