Basketball: Shaw holds off Jesuit in Catholic League thriller, 61-59

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WESTWEGO – Playing without its starting center and starting point guard, the odds were against Jesuit as the Blue Jays traveled to Archbishop Shaw Tuesday night.

For the duration of four quarters, Jesuit competed extremely well against a good Eagles squad.

In the end, the home team had just enough, making one more play as Shaw pulled out a 61-59 victory at The Eagles Nest in a District 9-5A contest.

Up 61-58 with time running down, Kam Johnson blocked a shot by Michael Britsch in the final seconds. The Eagles then fouled Michael Knight with two seconds left. Knight made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second free throw and Rodney Phillips rebounded to secure the victory. Johnson also sank a pair of free throws late.

“I missed a free throw but I came back and knocked two of them down,” Johnson said.

While Jesuit clamored for a foul on the blocked shot, Johnson thought otherwise.

“I knew it was all ball,” Johnson said. “In the beginning of the game, my shots weren’t falling so I turned to defense. No. 5 (Britsch) is their best player. I wanted to guard him, shut him down. That’s the type of mentality I’ve got, to guard the best player and shut him down.”

In a game that saw 10 lead changes and nine ties and was close throughout, each team made runs, looking to take control.

Jesuit opened the game on a 10-4 run but Shaw closed the first quarter on an 8-2 run to tie the game 12-12.

After the Blue Jays took a 22-19 lead in the second quarter, the Eagles went on a 6-0 run to take a 25-19 lead and led 30-27 at halftime behind 10 points by Isiah Barnes.

Shaw used a 6-0 run to take a 42-36 lead in the third quarter and led 44-38 going to the final frame.

In the fourth quarter, the Eagles lengthened the lead to 49-40 and seemed to have control but Jesuit stormed back with an 8-0 run to take a 51-50 lead but Shaw responded with a 7-0 run to take a 57-51 lead with under three minutes left.

Once again, Jesuit fought back to pull within 57-55 and cut the deficit to two points and got a steal with a chance to tie or win it in the final seconds when Johnson blocked the shot and another shot was off the mark with Rodney Phillips coming up with it to seal the deal.

Johnson finished with 16 points, including 7-of-10 from the free throw line and two key made free throws in the final minute. Johnson added seven assists, six rebounds, four blocks and two steals. Isiah Barnes had 14 points with three steals, Rodney Phillips finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals and Jene Baquet scored 11 points and had four rebounds.

Sophomore Christian Creppel came off the bench to score six points, including a critical 3-pointer in the final two minutes, along with a huge block.

Michael Britsch led Jesuit with 22 points, eight rebounds and three assists while Matthew Knight had 20 points, 12 rebounds and three assists.

Shaw coach Wes Laurendine was relieved to win and praised Johnson and Creppel, who missed a 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer in a 49-46 loss to Ridge View, South Carolina in the 11th annual Allstate Sugar Bowl Prep Classic at the Alario Center.

“It’s always hard to win in the Catholic League,” Shaw coach Wes Laurendine said. “Any win in the Catholic League is a good win. We expect that out of Kam. A couple of days ago, Christian missed a big shot for us and we talked about it. If anybody in here doubts that Christian was going to make that shot, sure as hell, he made it.”

The Blue Jays are without starting center Josh Washington and starting point guard Jack Lo, both out for the season with torn ACL injuries and played hard and very well.

“This team’s awesome,” Jesuit coach Chris Jennings said. “It’s a great team to be coaching every night we do this, we battle to the end. We certainly had some shots. They created some turnovers so good for them. I’m just very proud of my guys. It was very close (on the block) but I thought they were trying to foul the whole time. I thought that time, they went too far and they were trying to foul. They were not trying to block the shot. The kids battled. That’s all you can ask for.”

As for how difficult it is without two key starters, Jennings drew upon a very interesting analogy for a team without key players.

“Ask Sean Payton,” Jennings said.

Shaw (16-4, 2-0) travels to Brother Martin Saturday at 7 p.m. while Jesuit (14-9, 1-1) hosts St. Augustine Friday at 7 p.m.

“I’ve been playing and coaching in this league, it seems like my whole life,” Laurendine said. “Jesuit never goes away. That’s what we talked about before the game. They are not going away. They’ve got pride, too! We’re lucky we got out with a win but I’m proud of my guys. I really don’t think we’re playing our best basketball. I think that we’re getting there. I can’t wait to see where we get in February.”

Laurendine played at Archbishop Rummel and served previously as an assistant coach for five seasons under Jennings at Jesuit.

The Eagles will face the Blue Jays at Jesuit on February 4.

“It’s hard to win over there,” Johnson said. “We split with them last year. We’ve got to get two this year. I think we’re going all the way this year.”

SHAW 12 18 14 17 — 61
JESUIT 12 15 11 21 — 59

SHAW—Kam Johnson 16, Isiah Barnes 14, Rodney Phillips 12, Jene Baquet 11, Christian Creppel 6, Austin LaSalle 2
JESUIT—Michael Britsch 22, Matthew Knight 20, Jasper Parker 9, Brock Guillot 3, Vincent Smith 3, Will Sheridan 2

Jesuit 31, Shaw 26

Jesuit 12, Shaw 6

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