jefferson boys basketball

Demos pass key PIL test

Jefferson edges Grant 53-48 in tense battle
By Cliff Pfenning

PORTLAND - Third-ranked Jefferson got an early start to the playoffs in what it hopes will be a state-title run Friday in a 53-48 victory over rival Grant in a PIL boys basketball game at Jefferson.

Grant's strategy involved slowing the game down significantly and that nearly turned into a significant upset, although the Demos were able to survive and remain unbeaten in league play, and extend their win streak to nine games.

Jefferson got 21 points from sophomore Lamar Washington and 16 points from junior Kamron Robinson in the win, but it wasn't a typical league victory. The Demos, state runners-up the past two season, were held to their lowest total in nine leage wins, and led by just three points with five minutes remaining. They stretched the lead to seven several times, but Grant, which got a teram-high 14 points from senior Emanuel Steward, kept forcing turnovers and remained a threat to tie or win into the closing seconds, missing several three-point shots.

"That's the strategy we'll probably see throughout the playoffs," Jefferson coach Pat Strickland said. "We just need to get together and start playing playoff basketball right now."

Jefferson improved to 14-4 overall, 9-0 in PIL games. Grant, which beat Jefferson in the 2018 state final, dropped to 11-7, 7-2 with both of its league losses to Jefferson.

The Democrats lost the title game to Jesuit last season, and the Crusaders remained No. 1 in the state with a 46-44 win over Beaverton Friday. Jefferson actually moved to No. 2 with the win Friday.

The Demos play host to Wilson Tuesday, while Grant, which dropped one spot to No. 12 with the loss, plays host to Benson the same night. 

Only Jefferson and Grant are among the top 32 ranked teams in the state.

The Generals had scored at least 61 points in their seven league wins, but ran a very deliberate offense and trailed just 12-11 at the end of one quarter and just 25-23 at halftime. Jefferson stretched the lead to 46-36 after three quarters, but a 7-0 run to start the fourth cut that deficit to just three with 5:15 remaining. Jefferson's size, led by Robinson at 6-foot-9, Washington at 6-4 and freshman Marquis Cook at 6-9, collected several offensive rebounds and they were able to get a dunk, a rebound basket and three free throws to round out its scoring.

Jefferson heads toward the post season without a senior on its roster, something Cook said might play to their benefit.

"Without a senior, people might be looking at us as not having enough experience to win," he said. "But, we've got three guys who were on last year's team, and we've all been playing club ball for years, so we think we're going to be ready for the playoffs.



Jeff still owns Portland

No. 1 Democrats survive No. 2 Grant again, 72-68
By Cliff Pfenning,

PORTLAND - Jefferson's K'lum Strickland grabbed a key turnover and made two free throws with 7.5 seconds left to secure a 72-68 victory over Grant Friday night in a battle between the state's top Class 6A teams that was everything it was everything fans had hoped for.

And, there were a lot of fans as school officials cut off ticket sales 30 minutes before the game started at 7:15 p.m.

Jefferson led 67-58 before the Generals fought back to tie the game at 68 with one minute left. But, the Demos got a basket and then Strickland's two free throws to score the third win this year, and eighth consecutive overall, against their neighborhood rivals. Grant has not beaten Jefferson since the Democrats moved back to 6A from 5A three years ago.

The Democrats beat Grant earlier this season 79-74 at the Les Schwab Invitational, 81-80 in early January befor a packed house at Marshall High, then Friday. They also beat the Generals in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs last season.



Jefferson, Grant on collision course

Grant plays at Jefferson with national attention online
Staff report

The top ranking in the state for boys basketball has fluctuated between Jefferson and Sprague for the last month, but it's finally where most of the passionate fans think it should be - with the defending Class 6A champion Democrats, who have yet to lose to an Oregon team this season.

But, Jefferson gets another solid test Friday when it plays host to No. 2 Grant in North Portland, with the game being webcast on

Viewers in Texas are lining up to catch a glimpse of Jefferson's Kamaka Hepa, who has signed with the Longhorns. The Demos Robert Akil signed with Western Oregon two weeks ago, although as a football player.

Grant will be looking to beat the Democrats for the first time in more than three years having lost twice this season by a combined six points.

The Demos beat the Generals three times last year, including the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.

Friday's game was once scheduled by the district to be played at the Chiles Center at the University of Portland, but Jefferson coach Pat Strickland lobbied to have the game played at Jefferson to maintain homecourt advantage. The UP game would have included the Grant vs. Benson girls game.

Coverage of the game begins live at 7 p.m. on



Jefferson leads title defense ranks

Five of six champions are among state favorites
By Cliff Pfenning,

It's win over Lincoln might have seemed uninspired Monday night, but the Jefferson Democrats look like the favorite to win the Class 6A state title in boys basketball for a second consecutive year heading into the final three weeks of the regular season.

The Demos, who have won six state titles in the past 10 years, are ranked second behind Sprague in the OSAA ratings, but are 16-2 with both losses to out-of-state schools. They also have a pair of wins over No. 3 Grant, and the experience of numerous playoff games, something the Olympians lack having not reached the tournament since 2003.

At Class 5A, two-time champion Wilsonville is ranked fourth, but its six losses are to 6A schools or out-of-state teams. And the Wildcats, who were also in the 2015 final, have a seven-game win streak running. Silverton, the 2015 champion, is ranked No. 1.

At 4A, Banks is ranked first and is the lone unbeaten team in the state at 18-0 heading into a key game with second-ranked and defending champion Seaside tonight. The Braves are looking for their first trip to a title game.

At 3A, defending champion Dayton is No. 2 behind De La Salle of Portland, which it beat in the final last season. De La Salle has been to four title games without scoring a win.

At 2A, defending champ Santiam is eighth, with Western Mennonite – the 2011 champion - atop the rankings and Columbia Christian, a two-time champion at Class 1A, in second.

And at 1A, defending champion Sherman is second.



Grant, Jefferson appears as state title prep

Top state teams set to meet ... again
By Cliff Pfenning,

It was a game once headed for the Chiles Center.

Although it's not going to be played at the University of Portland, it's still to be one of the biggest games in Oregon ... at least until the state tournament.

Grant heads to Jefferson, Feb. 16, with both of the teams likely in the top five in the state, and possibly ranked No. 1 and 2.

Players on the junior varsity teams should be ready for attention as fans arrive early to secure a seat.

Jefferson has a pair of wins over Grant this season - 79-74 in the third-place game of the Les Schwab Invitational, and 81-80 in Portland Interscholasti League play just seven days later at a packed Marshall High School gym. Attendance was so packed that the PIL originally planned to move that follow-up game, plus the Grant vs. Benson girls game, to UP, but those plans fell through.

Jefferson's streak of wins over Grant includes a 77-61 win in the quarterfinals of the Class 6A state tournament last year - part of the Democrats' run to the state title.

The Demos beat Grant three other times last season, including the LSI.

Grant has not won a state title since 2008.



Demos overwhelm Cardinals

Jefferson avenges its only PIL loss with a powerful 76-55 win at Lincoln
Feb. 10, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

PORTLAND - The Jefferson High boys basketball team apparently got the message the Lincoln High team sent them Jan. 10. If the Democrats didn't play like they wanted to win the state title, they ran the risk of losing.

Tuesday, they showed off they don't plan on losing anytime soon.

Behind a dominating defensive performance led by senior center Isaiah Robinson's five blocked shots, and 24 points from senior point guard Kadeem Strickland, the Democrats ran over Lincoln, 76-55, avenging the 65-64 loss the Cardinals handed them in their first meeting.

The win was their ninth-straight by double-digits, and eighth-straight by at least 21 points. Jefferson improved to 15-4 overall, 12-1 in PIL play, a game ahead of the Cardinals in the race for the league title.

Jefferson dominated from the outset, turning a 7-3 lead into an 18-3 tsunami of offense and defense. Lincoln, tempered by the pass-first, shoot second mentality of teams that haven't tasted state glory, got overwhelmed into the fourth quarter, when Jefferson led 65-30. The Cardinals responded to reach the final score, but the PIL's hopes for playoff glory clearly rest with Jefferson. And, the Democrats know it.

Jefferson rebounds with assertive win

The defending Class 5A champions beat Wilsonville, 52-42, in home opener
Dec. 12, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

PORTLAND -The Jefferson Democrats may not have won a boys basketball state title at the large school level in 14 years, but it hasn't stopped coach Pat Strickland from thinking his Demos should be the team to beat this season. That's because they're the defending state champions. And, maybe that was at the Class 5A level from last season, but the regular season included the Demos beating eventual Class 6A champion West Linn.

So, with a little imagination, it's not hard to think Jefferson would have won at the 6A level - if only it had been allowed to play there.

This season, with all the Portland Interscholastic League schools returning to the large-school level for the first time since 2006, that won't be the case.

"It's our title until someone takes it away from us," Strickland said after Jefferson beat former 5A rival Wilsonville Friday night in their home opener. "We beat the best from 6A last year, so why wouldn't it be our title."

Jefferson led throughout Friday's game, although the Wildcats cut a 13-point deficit to four in the fourth quarter. Jefferson senior point guard Kadeem Strickland scored 22 points, including 18 on 3-point shots, to lead the way. Senior Gabe Garrett added nine for the Demos, who lost their season opener 60-57 to Jesuit last week.

The Demos have two weeks off to prepare for South Salem in the opening round of the 16-team Les Schwab Invitational, Dec. 27. A victory would put it up against the winner of the Grant vs. West Linn contest.

Wilsonville, which won a pair of games in Nevada last week, got 13 points from sophomore Zach Reichle and 12 points from junior Tyler Hieb. The Wildcats play at Lincoln Tuesday.

Jefferson may be one of two defending state champions active in Class 6A, but it is a decidedly different team. Last season, guard Silas Melson led the team on the way to being the Class 5A Player of the Year having already signed a letter-of-intent to play at Gonzaga. Melson has already earned playing time as a freshman.

Most, if not all, of the Demos' seniors this season are likely headed for NCAA Div. II schools, including Garrett, who has commited to St. Martin's of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The team's pedigree, won't stop virtually any Div. I school from watching a game and taking notes on the roster. Friday's game attracted Portland State head coach Tyler Geving as well as an assistant from the University of Portland. Kadeem Strickland did plenty to attract attention to his game.

"A team is always the point guards team, and that's my position, so this is my team," he said. "I'm going to have to step my game up whenever the team needs it and be ready to put it on my back and lead the way."

Jefferson features a core of flashy guards, all of whom were solid on defense keeping the Wildcats off balance. And, the team has 6-foot-10 center Isaiah Robinson to patrol the middle. The team has plenty of room to improve, too, before a playoff run begins - Robinson, for example, scored just five points - all on free throws. But, with a stronger offensive output from Robinson, and outside shooting from Strickland and Garrett Jefferson figures to be among the team to beat in March, if not THE team to beat.






Jefferson, Churchill have title plans

With Corvallis out of the way, Demos and Lancers are top contenders
March 5, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

After two straight years of Corvallis winning the state title, the Class 5A ranks will see a new champion this season as the Spartans are not in the quarterfinals, having lost in the first round of the playoffs.

First in line are Churchill, Jefferson and Milwaukie and Jefferson.

Jefferson returns to the tournament site after two years off from its run of three consecutive championships. The Demos played a tough schedule that included losses to Central Catholic, Jesuit and Grant - twice. Leading the team are junior Silas Melson, sophomore Kadeem Strickland and seniors Victor Sanders and Hayden Hall.

Churchill enters the tournament on a 10-game win streak and with the top ranking in Class 5A. Two of their losses were in a tournament in Arizona, and the other two were to 6A schools Sheldon and South Eugene - both of whom it beat by double digits a month later.

Milwaukie enters the tournament on an eight-game win streak and has won 15 of its last 16 games after a 3-5 start. The Mustangs return to the tournament with a roster full of new players. Seniors Henry Morris and C.J. Hubbard were key in the run to the title game last season.

Silverton guard Zach Gengler, a 6-foot-2 senior, has attracted college scouts after guiding the Foxes to a second-straight trip to the quarterfinals. After a 4-3 start that included losses to Jesuit, Central Catholic, and Churchill, they’ve won the last 17 consecutive games - 16 of them by double-digit margins.

Mountain View has quietly put together a solid season that includes a current nine-game win streak.

Jefferson goes about business at Benson, 80-49

Melson, Sanders combine for 55 points as top-rated Demos win easily
Jan. 25, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning / Oregonsports Journal

The stars were out to watch the Jefferson Democrats Friday night, and the top-ranked Class 5A boys basketball team didn't disappoint.

Led by 31 points by Silas Melson and 24 from Victor Sanders, the Demos ripped No. 8 Benson apart with a 48-20 run through the second and third quarters on the way to an 80-49 victory in a Portland Interscholastic League game at Benson.

The game brought out Oregon State and NBA great Gary Payton as well as University of Washington coach Lorenzo Romar for the inner-city rivalry that filled the Chiles Center twice a decade ago.

Benson owned the series the past two seasons while it challenged for a state title both years, but the Demos reclaimed the rivalry edge Friday.

"We've been down the last couple years, so we wanted to change that," Melson said. "I think we did."

Melson scored just five points in the first half, but outscored the Techmen 17-8 by himself in the third quarter. Melson's scoring run included a steal and breakaway dunk into the camera of a film crew that is cataloging the team's season for Nike's Jordan Brand.

Jefferson is one of only a handful of teams nationwide that are supported by the Jordan Brand. Having a pair of rookies in the NBA: Terrence Jones and Terrence Ross, got the program that kind of attention.

Jordan Ewell led Benson with 13 points.



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