The Washington boys basketball team held on to defeat Oregon 109-108 in the 21st annual Merritt Truax Memorial Northwest Shootout on Saturday night at Liberty High School in Hillsboro.
But it was the performance of Oregon’s Jazz Johnson that had the gym buzzing.
The Lake Oswego star scored 35 points on 14 of 22 shooting in just 25 minutes, despite being hounded the entire second half.
“I’ve always shot good on this court,” Johnson said. “I came in trying to be aggressive.”
Johnson played in the 2014 Les Schwab Invitational, which was also played at Liberty High School. He set a tournament scoring record, averaging 35 points over the four games, including a 44-point performance against three-time national champion Montverde Academy. The University of Portland commit took advantage of another opportunity playing against great talent.
“Anytime there’s a group of good players, I’m kind of overlooked, and I want to show people what I can do.”
Johnson, who came off the bench, certainly wasn’t overlooked in the second half after scoring 15 first half points to keep Oregon in the game.
“He’s not afraid of anybody and it was evident when he stepped on the floor,” Oregon head coach Larry Doty said. “It took some of our other guys a little more time to get going.”
Washington led the entire first half, with its largest lead being ten at 34-24. Despite making ten first half three-pointers, Washington only led 52-48 at halftime, because of Johnson and Oregon knocking down 20 of its 22 free throw attempts.
Oregon took its first lead, 57-56 early in the second half, and it was a seesaw battle the rest of the way. Oregon’s largest lead would be five, 73-68, after South Eugene forward Eli Lininger knocked down a three-pointer. The Yale commit scored 19 points and pulled down 19 rebounds. Oregon held a 58-39 rebounding advantage for the game.
But Washington continued its hot three-point shooting, making five more shots from beyond the arc in the second half. Camas forward Trevor Jasinsky responded to Lininger’s three with a triple of his own and scored eight points as Washington battled back to tie the game at 82, forcing Oregon to take a timeout. The game’s Most Valuable Player finished with 22 points, including shooting a perfect 4 of 4 from downtown.
“I felt comfortable with it,” Washington head coach Bill Bakamus said of his team’s three-point shooting. “My high school team (Eastside Catholic), we shoot a ton of threes.”
Johnson was given a breather following the timeout and Washington took advantage by going on a 9-0 run to take a 91-82 lead with 7:23 remaining.
When Johnson came back in the game, Oregon gradually chipped away at the lead. The 5-foot-11 guard pulled Oregon within two, 100-98, with 2:45 remaining. He had an opportunity to tie the game on the following possession but his layup over a crowd of three Washington players rimmed in and out.
“We would play in War of the Border…we would play Lake Oswego, and we’ve never stopped him,” Backamus said of Johnson. “I appreciated him missing for once.”
Despite Johnson scoring five more points, Oregon never got another opportunity to tie the game as Washington iced the win at the free throw line. Kadeem Strickland’s three at the buzzer made the game a one-point outcome.
“There’s nothing better than a good basketball game,” Jasinsky said. “It was an awesome experience.”
Washington’s win snaps a two-game losing streak to Oregon. Oregon still holds a 11-9 record in the event.