Jefferson Halts East Linn’s Comeback, #4 Oakland Next

By Jeremy McDonald

JEFFERSON, Ore.–  That zone defense that East Linn Christian Academy created some issues for the Jefferson offense Saturday afternoon at home.

But nonetheless, the back-end of a back-and-back game saw the Lions lead 31-26 at the halftime break after Jefferson finished the half on a 20-8 run in their 57-50 home win after going down 18-11 in the second quarter.

To start the second half however, the adjustment that the Lions made were to take the Eagles out of their comfort zone and make them run a different defense than the one that they ran in the first half against Jefferson.

“It worked well because they were playing zone and we wanted to pull them out of it, make them defend man-to-man because we feel like man-to-man team’s are going to have trouble to guard us,” said Danny Aguilar, who finished with 11 points in the win.

For the first 90 seconds, all the Lions did was playing back-and-forth with the ball before eventually Diego Rodriquez drove to the basket and was fouled on a lay-in.  Rodriquez made both free throws as they slowed it down again as Cesar Sepulveda extended the lead further on the next offensive possession.

Leon Romo Jr. driving to the hole in the second half of Saturday’s game.  Romo Jr. finished with 16 points in the win (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Jefferson would speed up the pace of the game with their lead peaking at 15 when Leon Romo Jr. converted on an inside-the-arch shot to hand the Lions a 49-34 lead in the fourth.  They powered it down a bit to stretch out the zone once more and sail into the win.

But not so much.  The Eagles began chipping away at the lead.

They got it to 11, then nine, then six points with 1:40 left in the game.

“We were trying to slow down the pace, making smarter moves.  We were trying to spread the zone out because that’s what was hurting us and that’s how they came back,” said Rodriguez, who added another 17 points to the offense.  “I was pretty scared because coach is making us slow down the pace.  When we had our pace up we were scoring a lot before we slowed it down, spread it out and that’s how they were hurting us.”

They were confident however.

“We’ve been in enough close games, we’ve had a lot of close games and kind of going back-and-forth with teams before…we got it,” said Aguilar.

Diego Rodriguez (22) going up to throw off a East Linn Christian’s lay-in opportunity as Jefferson saw the Eagles climb back into the game late (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Rodriquez pushed the lead to eight with 1:11 left in the game at 56-48 when they had those clutch free throws to make to ice the game.

However.  They were not as friendly as they could have been as the Lions only made 1-for-8 at the line with the lone made free throw coming from Jayden Eriksen in the closing seconds of the game.  Something they’ll need to improve upon with #3 Oakland Tuesday.

The lone loss for the Oakers (15-1, 5-0) were to Kennedy, but as Chemawa showed Friday night however against the Trojans of Kennedy, it comes down to execution throughout the game.

“That’s something we need to get better at, that’s my bad,” smiled and laughed Aguilar who had his chances down the stretch at the line as well Saturday.  “Oakland is going to be a tough game for us, but we’re looking forward towards to the match-up and knocking down free throws are going to be important in that next game.  Those could be another 10 points for us, so we’re looking forward to it.”

With Jefferson sitting at 5-0 in league play with a five-game winning streak to boot, this game Tuesday is going to be one of those big games that could really show them where they are at for their goals for this season.

“It’s going to be a very big, very big game.  It determines where we’re at and hopefully make State Playoffs, see how far we can get,” said Rodriguez.

Photos By Jeremy McDonald


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