ALBANY, Ore.–Jefferson’s lineup featured two freshman in Leon Romo Jr and Daniel Aguiliar when the Lions were going through the starting lineups Wednesday afternoon against Marist.
Aguiliar, who listed at five-foot-six-inches, constantly shifted over to help double team whoever had the ball as the two freshman helped Jefferson hold the 5A Spartans to 20 first-half points.
“Defense I mean, everyone was hustling and doing their jobs out there, just rebounding their a big team, they just got the best of us,” said the scrappy freshman in Aguiliar who had four points in the 58-39 loss.
Down in the trenches, six-four Jayden Eriksen had his hands-full against the physical six-foot-six Jack Courtemanche and five-eleven Jace Krier, but the junior made do in battling with his senior counterpart.
“Every game is off and on, we got to adjust to their height lineup and stuff, but overall this game I feel like we played very good D against him,” said Eriksen who had 10 points Wednesday. “He’s not very tall but he is very physical, he uses his body.”
Marist, who was seemingly started to pull away before Cody Braun came in.
The senior who was playing limited minutes after being dazed in the game against Sheridan a few days ago provided a spark for his team as they found themselves down 15-11 during the second quarter.
“I just looked to coming off the bench and create what we needed, it seemed we were a little flat coming out of the gate,” said Braun who added another five points. “But I’m here to help wherever I can…whatever I can give the team every night, just trying to give some emery off the bench.”100
The defense was there as the half ended, but the Lions struggled to bring their shots through the bottom of the net as Marist led 20-13 by halftime.
“It’s frustrating just cause everyone’s working hard out there on D and sometimes they’re not going to fall, so just got to live with that,” said Aguiliar on leaving points off the board.
They did find a groove with their shots in the third and to start the fourth quarter as they went on a 6-0 run to start the final eight minutes to cut a 12-point deficit to a manageable 42-36 hole with the Lions looking to do further damage.
But the Spartans (4-3) denied such an opportunity to the 3A squad, but for Jefferson, four of their five losses include team that are either at or above .500 and three of those were by less than 10 points, including a six-point loss to 2A’s Waldport (5-3) to start the season to go with a quality 15-point win over 4A’s Sweet Home who are 4-4 on the season.
Games like this, as the Lions prepare to open their tournament versus Central Linn Thursday at 7pm, games like Marist, Waldport and Sweet Home serve as learning lessons moving forward.
“Definitely os a good learning tool despicably heading into league with these teams that can go out there and compete,” said Braun. “It shows that we can go out there and compete too, we’re up there too and I know a lot of teams will sleep on us and saying, ‘Oh we’re Jefferson’, we have the weapons this year to compete with these teams, especially with our defense. We can be fast, physical and we got weapons to shut down everyone in the conference.”
“Everyone just looks past us like, ‘Oh it’s only Jefferson’ but I think this year we can make a big impact because we stuck with (Marist), we’ve stuck with other big schools that has high-end skills,” adds Eriksen. “But with our league, we got competitors and I think this year we can make a impact.”