BRUSH PRAIRIE – Previously, Jeray Key had a good feeling.
“You could tell,” he said. “Before the game, when they were in the locker room, they were pretty excited. I saw them warming up as they sweated.
“I turned to our coaches and said: ‘Yes, they are ready to go.'”
His RA Long Boys basketball team hadn’t spoken in 17 days, a hiatus so long that Key said it now feels like the start of a new season.
But if there were enemies of 2A GSHL who harbored feeble hopes that the elapsed time would overshadow the Jacks lead, they would have been disappointed when RA Long proved Key’s premonition was right, exploding for a 93-30 Hockinson demolition.
“We just wanted to get back to where we left off,” Key said. “We had a lot of momentum going on and were hoping to see we were still supporting him.”
It took about three possessions for RA Long to find out that it was, and once the Jacks got going, they didn’t slow down. It wasn’t a game with thunderous dunks, crazy crossovers, or a lot in the way of junk chatter or even celebration. It was four quarters of near-surgical demolition, precise, dead of a thousand cuts, which left the Hawks wondering what had happened to their court.
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RA Long finished with 28 forced turnovers, including 21 steals as a team, pushing the Hawks into chaos over and over.
“Our defense, that’s what I preach,” Key said. “We are scoring the ball pretty well, pulling it to a high clip, but we practice defending every day. This is what I was known for, this is what I can teach really well. I’ve always preached that defense leads to offense. “
Leading the way, senior Jamon Harris came with nine steals, challenging RA Long’s single-game record. He also led the Lumberjacks with 18 points and added seven rebounds and seven assists to a charged statistic.
“It’s an all-league cornerback,” Key said. “He can read the ball. He’s really good, he’s a defensive-minded guy and he’s faster; can beat guys in points. He’s been my best defender since he was a freshman, and seeing everything together as a senior is great to watch. “
That defense, as it normally does, kicked things off for the RAL. The Lumberjacks realized that the best way to stop Hockinson and 7-0 big man Samuel Kelly was to not let the Hawks get the ball to the post, and they promptly wreaked havoc among Hockinson’s guards, totaling 11 turnovers in eight minutes. Which turned into an 18-2 run to end the fourth, with the Jacks leading 28-8.
“I wouldn’t really say there’s much of a secret,” Key said. “It’s all out of the reading. There is no certain rotation; it’s all out of your reading. I let them play offensively like I do in defense, freely. They all have quite high IQs. They are doing the right readings and making some good plays. “
As dominant as the first quarter was, the second went a step further, with what ended up being the knockout jab. With 4:50 left in the quarter, Aaron Ofstun struck a throw-in to put the Lumberjacks ahead 36-16, making it a 20-point game.
Less than a minute and a half later, he was 30 points clear when Stephen Rooklidged knocked down a bucket.
Forty-five seconds later, Aebel Milian nailed a triple and with 2:45 left in the first half, RA Long had scored 50 points. The Lumberjacks continued, at half-time the Hawks more than tripled, 58-19.
From there, the only question was whether RA Long could hit 100, but a combination of Key calling out of the all-court press in the second half combined with a running clock meant the Jacks went short.
Behind Harris, both Ofstun and Stephen Rooklidge had 16 points. Cavin Holden added 15 and Jake Gabbard added 11; each RAL started ended in double digits.
Behind them, Milian and Payton Thill scored a pair of threes each and Lonnie Brown Jr. added five points.
The Lumberjacks fired 48% from the field overnight and were nearly identical from beyond the arc – 17 by 35 – as they were from the inside – 17 by 36.
“We have a lot of shooters on the team,” Key said. “All those guys who come in able to throw the ball, that’s cool.”
RA Long (8-1) will return south on Tuesday to face Fort Vancouver.