Since the early days of December, Greg Harcos has urged his Jesuit Marauders to not only compete but to maximize their considerable potential.
Play like a champion, in other words.
Throughout the season, Harcos, the veteran Jesuit coach, didn’t hesitate to rip into his bunch for inconsistency, even in victory.
The message has been received loud and clear. And the top-seeded Marauders are rolling in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I basketball playoffs, the latest indication coming Wednesday night when they took apart fifth-seeded Kennedy 75-54 in a semifinal at Sleep Train Arena.
Jesuit (27-3) steams into Saturday's final against second-seeded Rodriguez of Fairfield, aiming for the program’s ninth championship and third under Harcos since 2006.
In blasting Granite Bay in a quarterfinal and taking down storied Kennedy, the Marauders look every bit the No. 1 seed – sharing the ball, running the floor and contesting shots. Cornerstones Isaiah Bailey and Lake Lutes led the offensive charge with 24 and 18 points, respectively, and Jesuit outrebounded the Cougars 41-28.
Collectively, the Marauders continue to grow, and Harcos stands as something of a proud papa. Jesuit matters to Harcos because he’s an alumnus, having won a section title as a player for the Marauders in 1988, the program’s first in basketball.
“We’re in a different gear right now,” Harcos said. “It’s nice to see. They’ve all of a sudden figured it out. We’ve seen glimpses all season, but now we’re putting it together for four quarters. Kids are kids. They get comfortable quick, but we’re staying hungry.”
To a man, the Marauders agree with their coach. Jesuit now sets its sights on Rodriguez (26-2), which beat sixth-seeded Merced 73-68 in the other semifinal.
Bailey, a powerfully built junior guard with an array of skills, scored inside and out against Kennedy. He also had 11 rebounds. Lutes, the 6-foot-6 senior wing headed to Air Force, made 7 of 11 shots, including two three-pointers. He had nine rebounds.
Bailey said the Marauders can still get better, and their shared goal is clear.
“We came here to win it,” Bailey said. “We’re playing really well right now.”
Brady Anderson, a 6-9 senior center, had eight points, three rebounds and two blocked shots for Jesuit. Guards Nick Hilton, Josh Soriano and Austin Plaat provided ball handling and defense, and they combined for 19 points.
“We have a lot of sparks off the bench,” Bailey said.
Colin Uda led Kennedy with 14 points and Matt Nakatomi had 11. The Cougars still advance to the NorCal Regionals that start next week, but as a lower seed that will travel.
“We didn’t shoot the ball, and they did, and they crashed the boards,” Kennedy coach Robert Fong said. “They’re a really, really good team.”
D-IV girls – Erika Bean had 16 points and freshman Jolene Delaney had 11, including two three-pointers in the fourth quarter, as Bradshaw Christian beat Bear River 45-28 in a semifinal at Tokay High School.
The defending champion Pride plays West Campus for the title Saturday. West Campus beat Colfax 50-41 in the other semifinal. Barbara Keomany had 12 points for the winners.
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