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Lafayette Jeff boys basketball snaps losing streak with 57-45 victory over Harrison
January 27, 2014Lafayette Jefferson High School
To Darian Collins’ right, Harrison’s boisterous band members tried to shake the Lafayette Jeff sophomore’s confidence.
Behind him, a raucous Raider student section thought they could get in the head of the 5-foot-9 guard.
The real pressure came from within, where memories of one disheartening loss after another have served as motivation for a moment to clinch the game.
Collins toed the free throw line six times in the final 1:04 and calmly made each one, not only sealing a 57-45 victory over rival Harrison but also ending nearly two months of setbacks, a stretch that saw the Bronchos with a chance to win six times during their seven-game losing streak.
“I just stayed focused on my free throws and kept hitting them,” Collins said. “When I was at the line, I wasn’t thinking about anything else, just hitting my free throws.”
Afterwards, emerging from the locker room, players screaming in the background, it was hard to tell if Bronchos coach Scott Radeker was happy or relieved.
Whatever it was, it felt good and it felt long overdue.
Lafayette Jeff has managed to lose games just like Friday’s contest at May Gymnasium during its 2-9 start, including a 73-70 loss to Harrison on Dec. 5.
“We hope this will help us turn the corner,” Jeff senior Devin Haney said. “This game, we didn’t shoot our best. We’re still trying to find ourselves, find our identity, but we’re hoping this will roll over into all the other games.”
The Raiders (3-8) dropped their fourth straight despite 13 points from Cade Renicker and 12 points and seven rebounds from Aidan Hannon. The Raiders exploited their height advantage on the Bronchos, pounding the ball into the post and outrebounding Jeff 35-28.
Despite their lack of size, the Bronchos used quickness and athleticism to get to the basket repeatedly against Harrison’s perimeter defense.
“There’s a reason why they’ve been in every game,” Harrison coach Mark Rinehart said. “Their record is like ours, but they have been in every single game. They are hard to guard.”
Lafayette Jeff jumped ahead 19-5 with 4:51 to go in the first half, thanks in part to Quarin Hood’s long buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the first quarter. Harrison coach Mark Rinehart called timeout out of frustration and the Raiders responded with a 13-0 run to end the half trailing by just one.
That was as close as Harrison could get.
Justin Gordon sank a 3-pointer to start the third quarter and Haney had a big second half, scoring all 13 of his points in the final two quarters after picking up two quick fouls and sitting most of the first half.
“I was feeling hot early on, I just got into foul trouble,” Haney said. “I had to come out and be aggressive for my team.”
Collins and Haney led four Bronchos in double figures with 13 each. David Hanyard added 12 and Hood scored 11. More important were Collins’ five steals, including three in the fourth quarter that forced the Raiders to foul rather than give him an uncontested layup.
“He is our team leader defensively,” Radeker said of Collins. “He leads us in deflections, steals. He is all over the place and his hands are always active.”