Shooting stars: Orange Wave downs Clippers
Jaquan Lynch's first PSAL dunk couldn't have come at a more opportune moment.
The guard put down a thunderous and somewhat unexpected slam midway through the second quarter that spurned on an impressive comeback for Jefferson.
"It's not my first game dunk, but it is my first PSAL dunk," Lynch said. "I felt it, I was just hyped. I just took my power steps and dunked it. It woke me up. My jump shot came on after that."
Paired with the hot shooting hand of senior guard Thaddeus Hall, Jefferson stunned Xavierian on their way to a 73-64 victory Saturday night in the last game of the Rucker Invitational held at Wadleigh.
Xaverian's ball penetration was the story early on as the Orange Wave were badly out of position to start the action. Their over-anxiousness played right into the Clippers hands as they turned a myriad of turnovers in fast-breaks. Xaverian ended the quarter with a 6-0 run, scoring on the last four consecutive possessions of the period.
"The more aggressive they played, it seemed like the better off we were early on," said Xaverian coach Jack Alesi. "But the ball movement for us, for whatever reason just stopped and the plays that we were making were more me plays than we plays."
The second quarter was more of the same as sharpshooter Brian Bernardi couldn't miss, scoring eight of his 23 points in the period. The Clippers (16-8) headed into the half with a 35-31 advantage.
It wasn't until Lynch's offensive outburst near the end of the third quarter that the Orange Wave was able to reclaim their first lead since the early minutes of the game. The 5-foot-11 junior, sandwiched his eye-opening jam between a jumper and a three-pointer that gave Jefferson a five point lead.
Bernardi wasn't about to let things get too out of hand as he sank a three-pointer of his own in the final seconds of the third quarter to keep things close at 52-48.
Jefferson's (22-6) defense was also invigorated as they not only pressured the Clippers into critical turnovers but also shut down their perimeter game. Transition defense was key as Xaverian too often settled for jumpshots.
"We shut down Bernardi and didn't allow their point guard [Dillon Burns] to beat us on the inside," said Lynch.
The Orange Wave attacked the interior on almost every possession, forcing the Clippers to foul them. Their offensive aggression clearly took Xaverian out of the game and allowed Jefferson to control the outcome.
Hall was named the game's MVP. He finished with 22 points while Lynch added 16 points.