The recipe for success has been the same for the last few seasons for the Jesuit Crusaders. When the three point shots are dropping, they can beat just about anyone.
And while the cast of characters is ever-shifting in a challenging first month and a half this season, that maxim has held true.
The Crusaders picked up where they left off in the second half of Friday night’s upset of Southridge as Matthew Lang hit half of their eight threes in a 63-54 win over Westview at the Knight Center Wednesday night. The win pulls Jesuit even with Southridge atop the Metro League standings at 4-1 (9-4 overall). Westview fell to 3-2 and 7-6 overall with the loss.
Lang hit 4-of-7 from downtown and 8-of-14 overall to lead all scorers with 22 points. The Crusaders hit exactly half of their shots from the field (23-46) and just under half of their long-range attempts (8-17). Joe Wall hit two of his three threes in the fourth quarter and finished with 10 points.
The Wildcats also shot the ball well (22-41), but unfortunately shot themselves in the foot with careless mistakes. Jesuit scored 28 points off 19 Westview turnovers. The Wildcats scored just 11 points off 13 Crusader giveaways.
Kobe Newton led three ‘Cats in double-figures with 16 points. Shasank Bonthala added 14 points and Jack Poling had 12. While the latter two players combined to shoot well over 50-percent from the field, the Crusaders were able to limit their touches with a solid defensive gameplan. Bonthala’s open looks at the three-point line were few and far between. He only missed one, but only took four shots. Meanwhile, the Wilddats were unable to consistently get the ball to Poling in the paint. The 6-10 senior, Westview’s leading scorer on the season at 16.8 points per game, was held to just ten shot attempts.
A Bonthala trey gave the Wildcats the first lead, but Jesuit responded with eight straight points, including back-to-back trifectas by Lang. The home team would never trail again.
Jesuit opened up a 22-12 advantage early in the second quarter and led 26-16 midway through the period. Westview closed on a 9-2 run to pull within 28-25 at halftime. Lang had 12 points at the break and Poling and Newton paced Westview with eight each.
A Bonthala three-pointer pulled the Wildcats to within 30-28 early in the third quarter, but after Aiden Williams missed a three-pointer for the Crusaders, the ‘Cats muffed the rebound, throwing it right back to Sam Handley underneath the bucket for an easy lay-in. Moments later, Lang banged home his third trey of the game and the lead was back to seven. Again, Westview closed within two following Bonthala’s third triple of the contest and a Poling layup following a beautiful bounce pass feed from Eric Anderson. After Handley scored in the paint, Anderson turned the ball over, but stole it right back and took it straight to the goal for a layin to make it 37-35 Jesuit. But a missed three and back-to-back turnovers meant Westview was still looking at a 41-37 deficit at quarter’s end.
The fourth quarter began disastrously for the Wildcats. A bad pass gave the Crusaders the ball and Wall buried a three-pointer. Then Westview threw away the inbounds pass, leading to an easy layin for Will Sheaffer anda a 46-37 Jesuit lead. Bonthala drove the lane and scored at the rim, drawing a foul. He hit the free throw, but Lang responded with his fourth trey and the lead was back to nine. Back-to-back buckets by Newton and Poling cut the lead to five, but a missed Lang trey caromed right to wall at the three-point arc. The 6-6 senior fired right back and drained the last of Jesuit’s eight bombs for a 52-44 lead. The Wildcats would get no closer than seven the rest of the way.
Handley put together one of his strongest efforts of the season, scoring 14 points with nine rebounds, three steals and three assists, while playing strong defense on Poling. Williams dished out four assists to go with his six points.
The Crusaders travel to Liberty Friday night, while Westview entertains Glencoe. The Crimson Tide defeated the Falcons 69-51 Wednesday.