Jesuit shakes off Freedom in overtime thriller

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Sam Mayo|Plank

While hosting the Father Kelly Basketball Tribute on Saturday, Jesuit High School notched its seventh win of the season by beating Freedom High School, thanks in part to another strong performance from senior Isaiah Bailey.

A breakout performance from junior Armani Rivers, who was Jesuit’s leading scorer with 31 points, helped Jesuit surmount numerous turnovers in the second half as the Falcons rattled the Marauders with a fierce full court press.

Jesuit started off sluggish with a couple of fouls in the paint, but surged ahead midway through the first quarter, buoyed by an and-1 by Isaiah and a pair of the same by Armani .

An 8-3 run for Freedom brought them within striking distance for the first time. However, two perfectly placed long passes from Isaiah to Armani, gave the Marauders a more comfortable lead.

After a 3-pointer by freshman Chris Simpson to end the quarter, the second quarter opened up with a score of 22-17 with the Marauders in the lead. Freedom passed the ball beautifully around the perimeter but couldn’t take advantage, missing quite a few shots after elaborately finding ways to get the open look.

Isaiah once again drove and dished, this time firing a bullet to Armani on the perimeter which he hit for three points. Freedom hit a three at the end of the half but Jesuit seemed to be escaping, with a score of 37-28.

The Falcons pulled off a four-point play with seven minutes left in the 3rd, but the biggest change in the second half was Freedom’s switch to the full court press, which caused Jesuit to commit turnovers aplenty on risky passes, but Armani kept scoring big despite committing a couple of fouls.

The Marauders came up big defensively, especially when faced with 1-on-1 situations after their plentiful turnovers. Chris missed a three but quickly adjusted and drained a three point shot with about three and a half minutes to go.

Freedom surged late in the third quarter by crashing the boards ruthlessly after frequent turnovers and finished with a crowd-quieting and-1 with just two seconds left in the third. Somewhat fittingly, the 3-point play also put Jesuit behind for the first time.

With Jesuit was down 54-56, Isaiah once again assisted on a three pointer from Armani at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but turnovers kept hurting Jesuit. The Marauders gave up another layup to fall behind 61-64, but after a making a nice grab to catch a blazing pass Armani drew a foul and made it 63-64 Freedom.

Jesuit gave up a three with just under three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to fall behind 63-67. Armani was fouled again and brought the Marauders within two points, and Jesuit was gaining momentum with a nice offensive rebound from Chris.

Isaiah committed a charging foul, but Freedom was unable to capitalize on the opportunity. A Jesuit layup tied the game and Freedom called a timeout with 1:06 remaining.

Armani had a clutch steal and Isaiah drew the foul in the final minute, but Jesuit fouled with just a few seconds left while up by one, allowing the Falcons to tie the game and give the audience some free basketball.

The last few minutes were extremely tense but Isaiah got Jesuit rolling with a three after junior Malik Duffy, team captain, won the tipoff. Freedom missed a three and fouled Jesuit, putting them in a precarious situation.

Malik made one of two free throws, and offensive rebounds proved effective for Jesuit after Malik cleaned up a missed three to put Jesuit ahead 75-71. Freedom reminded Jesuit how difficult they were to leave behind on the scoreboard, making a three to close in within just a point.

Freedom capitalized on yet another turnover for a layup to pull ahead, and a block allowed them to score yet again. With a score of 78-75 Freedom, the Falcons had a miscommunication and passed the ball out of bounds.

Isaiah fell hard on his hand after driving into the paint but still drew a foul and made both of his free throws. After Freedom’s traveling foul turned the ball to Jesuit, Bailey was fouled again and made two more to pull Jesuit ahead, and after a pass out of bounds and foul by Freedom, Malik made a free throw to seal the deal.

Jesuit won the exciting and restless game by a score of 82-78, improving to 7-6.