As milestones go, this one resonates profoundly.
In rolling over Rodriguez High School 96-68 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship game Saturday night at Sleep Train Arena, Jesuit added some polish to its sparkling basketball résumé that spills out of a bloated trophy case.
Behind another thorough effort, the Marauders won their 75th career section playoff game, a record, and they did so with an all-divisions record amount of points. Jesuit has nine section titles, the first coming in 1988 when coach Greg Harcos was a player, and the latest from a core group that endured a 13-win, nonplayoff campaign last season.
Harcos, the passionate veteran teacher and coach, hoisted his third blue championship banner since a D-II repeat (2006 and 2007), and the euphoria made up for some of the hurt of recent title losses here.
Its just a blast to win here, Harcos said this week after his team competed in the programs 100th section playoff game, another record.
Lake Lutes, a versatile senior forward, had 21 of his 29 points in the first half (and 11 total rebounds) as the Marauders stormed to a 54-24 lead. Guard Isaiah Bailey had 21 points and center Brady Anderson 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Guards Josh Soriano, Nick Hilton and Dante Henley led the break that resulted in layups or dunks, much to the delight of the Marauders spirited Galley Crew rooting section decked in a sea of white and red. Reserve center Kori Collons provided defense and energy as 10 players scored and 14 played. The Marauders shot 55 percent, one of the best percentages in section playoff history in this building.
Jesuit (28-3) grew from each of its losses. The first was 60-50 to Bay Area power Newark Memorial in January, stalling an 18-0 season start. The next setbacks were to Folsom in Delta River League play, 58-55 in overtime and 73-69.
The Folsom games were humbling, like getting hit in the face, Bailey said. It was good for us. We needed to up our tempo, get better. We came here to win.
Jesuit expects to land a high seed in the NorCal Regional tournament that starts next week.
Division I girls
St. Marys 77, Oak Ridge 53 Stinging from a defeat to the Stockton powerhouse but hardly defeated in general, the Trojans are gearing up for another title run. Starting now.
Weve been here before, Trojans coach Steve White said. The girls know they left it all on the court. They can be proud of that. The score wasnt indicative of how close it was. We really believe we can beat them, but you miss some shots, have some turnovers and they wear you out.
Ali Bettencourt led Oak Ridge (26-5) with 19 points and fellow team leader Jenn Hoffman had 14. Kat Tudor had 24 for St. Marys (25-4), which shot 50 percent, a remarkable percentage for any team in such a spacious building.
St. Marys, in trademark fashion, turned a close game into a rout, transforming a 46-46 score in the third quarter into a 31-7 closing run with pressure defense and shooting to win its seventh consecutive title in various divisions.
St. Marys, competing in its 18th title game in 20 seasons, moved to 61-2 in the section playoffs since 1999. Oak Ridge lost in the section semifinals a year ago and responded with a 3-0 NorCal playoff showing to reach the finals.