By Randy Jennings / Special Contributor
Jesuit’s most successful basketball season in the 14 years since joining the UIL came to an end on Saturday, just one step shy of reaching the state tournament.
But the Rangers can take heart that it took a talented South Garland team to finally halt their record-setting five-game playoff run.
South Garland turned up the defensive pressure in the second half to pull away to a 65-50 victory in the Class 6A Region II championship game at Ellis Davis Field House.
Jesuit (30-6) led 31-30 at intermission but the normally reliable outside-shooting Rangers went 0-for-10 on 3-pointers in the second half.
“You have to give South Garland the credit with its athleticism,’’ said Jesuit head coach Chris Hill. “We couldn’t get good looks. They kept the pressure on us.’’
Jesuit scored only eight points in the third period, going 3-for-11 from the field with four turnovers. Meanwhile, South Garland forward Dearon Tucker was taking over, with eight of his 17 points coming in the third.
“We challenged the guys at halftime to get some defensive stops, and in the second half our guys allowed very few uncontested 3-pointers,’’ said South Garland head coach Dominique Parker.
Tyrese Maxey, rated the second-best junior point guard prospect in the nation by one recruiting service, finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
“As loaded as South Garland is, you have to pick your poison with how you defend,’’ said Hill.
Chris Harris Jr. hit his first five shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, to help the Colonels (36-3) forge a 20-14 lead after one quarter. Harris led all scorers with 21 points.
Jesuit fought back to take a six-point lead of its own in the second period, sparked by reserve forward Keagan Nwosu.
Michael Jankovich, one of four senior starters, led Jesuit with 14 points. Reid Hatzmann finished with 11. The Rangers reached the 30-win plateau for the first time since 1970. The lone returning starter for next season is Max Abmas, the Rangers’ leading scorer.
“We had a special group this year with no agendas except for the team to succeed,’’ Hill said. “They cared about each other.’’