Writing. Photography. Video. The home of Jesuit High School student journalism.

Jesuit Chronicle

Writing. Photography. Video. The home of Jesuit High School student journalism.

Jesuit Chronicle

Writing. Photography. Video. The home of Jesuit High School student journalism.

Jesuit Chronicle

Men’s basketball starts season 2-2, looks to keep growing


As the first three games of the Jesuit basketball season are in the books, the Crusaders have shown why they are a potential threat to a state championship, but also why they are a work in progress.

Jesuit is currently sitting at 2-2, and 28th in the state. Led by strong production from senior Nico Rafalovich and junior Patrick Kilfoil, the Crusaders have opened up the season with a .500 record. Execution of the gameplan along with defensive intensity has marked the brightest spot for Coach Potter and his bench.

Heading into the year, Jesuit was going to be tested in the opening games. To start their year, they traveled to Jefferson where they would face an athletic and historically competitive Democrat team. Jefferson proved to be too much, and Jesuit suffered an opening loss, losing 69-80.

Shooting 44% from the field, the offense was not the issue, and neither was it an issue for freshman standout Isaac Bongen. In his first ever varsity game, he was scorching hot from the field, scoring 25 points on 9/20 shooting, including 6 triples. Sophomore Joe Stimpson added on 12 points of his own, and showed intriguing signs of production in his first varsity game. Junior Patrick Kilfoil scored 11 points on solid efficiency, but his game ended early when called for his fifth and final foul early in the 4th quarter.

After what felt like a long weekend for an eager Crusaders team, they faced the Lake Oswego Lakers on the 5th.

The Crusaders would end up beating the Lakers 62-48 and bring their record back to 1-1, as well as 1-0 in Knight Gym. Defensive intensity was Jesuit’s main focus heading into the matchup, and they executed.

“So far, I’ve really liked the level of focus and intensity we’ve had on the defensive side of the ball and how we have executed our gameplan. We’ve taken away the strength of the other team for the most part. We’ve just got to be better on the offensive side of the ball and shoot a little higher percentage,” Coach Potter said.

Along with a strong defensive performance, the Crusaders shot a solid 40% from the field, with 9 3’s made and 15 assists compared to a mediocre 8 versus Jefferson.

Kilfoil led the team in scoring with 15 points despite having an off night from beyond the arc, along with both sophomore Joe Stimpson and Isaac Bongen contributing 14 points of their own. Senior Nico Rafalovich made his return after sitting out the first game with a wrist injury. He struggled to get back into rhythm scoring only 9 points, but made his presence felt on the glass with a team-high 10 rebounds.

Jesuit showed a sense of poise down the stretch that was yet to be proven from an inexperienced roster, and made multiple important momentum swinging plays that shifted the energy in the gym and allowed them to pull away in the final quarter and grab an empathic first win of the season.

The Crusaders had two days of preparation before a highly anticipated matchup versus Central Catholic in a historic rivalry. Central Catholic, sitting at #15 in the state, posed a big threat to Jesuit, with multiple players standing at over 6’5”, as well as junior Isaac Carr already being committed to Oregon.

Jesuit got into rhythm early in the contest, but the Rams quickly ramped up the defensive intensity to force Jesuit into a long scoring drought in the first half. However, the Saders starting five swarmed Carr and the Rams defensively, and held them to only 25 points in the first half, and keeping the game within reach as they trailed by 3 heading into the break.

Central threw the first punch in the second half, but remarkable shot making from Kilfoil and Rafalovich brought them back into the game despite poor shooting from others. Potter diverted to higher ball screens rather than low post cuts because of Central Catholic’s height in the interior, which resulted in Jesuit’s star players going downhill towards the rim allowed more space and caused Central Catholic to be spread out defensively.

Despite finding their offensive groove late in the game and taking notes on what was working on that side of the ball, an Isaac Carr stepback 3 with only a minute left ended up deciding the game, as Jesuit suffered their second loss of the year, 51-55.

Patrick Kilfoil ended up with 18 points on 7/13 shooting, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists. Nico Rafalovich added 18 points of his own, and held Pepperdine commit Marley Zeller to only 8 points. The unsung hero for the Crusaders, Tyler Curvy, was assigned the matchup of Carr, and held him to 17 points on poor efficiency. While Central Catholic came out with the win, Jesuit found their first stretch of offensive consistency in the second half.

Coach Potter has relied on his spread motion offense to create three point opportunities and attacks to the basket off of handoffs around the perimeter for as long as anyone came remember. So far this season, that has remained consistent, but the team has also run more zoom actions and off ball movement during the start of the year. A main reason for this has been to open up space for scorers like Kilfoil and Rafalovich to drive while already going downhill on the catch, rather than having to create off the dribble.

“The zoom action has allowed us to get to the basket a little bit. We’re trying to take advantage of both getting to the rim and shooting threes. We can’t just rely on jacking shots and hoping to win,” Coach Potter said.

After a draining loss vs the Rams, Jesuit turned their heads to their next matchup against the Lincoln Cardinals, who stood at 3-1 and a top team in the state.

“They’re a strong interior team, we’re going to try and keep them off the three point line. Make them see 5 defenders. They’re a really good inside out team, so we just have to be solid defensively, and the offense will take care of itself.”

Lincoln hung tough for the majority of the game, but the Crusaders pulled away in the fourth quarter behind strong shooting numbers from Patrick Kilfoil and Isaac Bongen, handing Lincoln their second loss of the season, 81-76.

Jesuit put on an offensive clinic, shooting 44% from the field and making 15 3’s. Hudson Rommel got hot from beyond the arc, scoring 12 of his 14 points from three. Kilfoil and Bongen combined for 46 points, and did a good job of running Lincoln’s guards off the line.

Jesuit showed long stretches of impressive basketball, but also struggled to keep possession with a season high 12 turnovers. However, a win is a win, and the Crusaders came out with a big one Tuesday night.

Heading into the season, high end production was expected from both Rafalovich and Kilfoil, and they’ve kept Jesuit in ball games by superb shot making so far. However, many other players on the team have fit into the lineup nicely and made an impact.

Sophomore Joe Stimpson continues to impress with high pressure on ball defense and solid efficiency ratings on the offensive side of the ball. Stimpson, with 2 games with 10 points or more off the bench, along with giving Jesuit the unexpected boost in scoring that they needed and proven to be one of the Crusaders’ best ball handlers on the roster.

Freshman Isaac Bongen, who has already received offers from Portland and Portland State, is averaging 17.5 points per game, at 47% from both the field and the three point line. Going into the season, the hype behind the freshman prodigy was high, being one of Jesuit’s only freshmen to step on the varsity floor in the history of the program. Shooting the ball remarkably well from deep, he’s also shown off some of the athleticism that has also been seen on social media, throwing down two different dunks in the Lincoln game. Bongen has established himself as one of the team’s main options, and has succeeded some of the expectations he had coming into the season.

While there has been an abundant amount of bright spots through the first two weeks of the season, Jesuit’s youth and inexperience has shown in matchups against tough opponents. Foul trouble as well as some questionable decision making in the closing stretches of games has caused struggles, but Coach Potter is pleased with the start.

“I like the shots we’ve been getting on offense. Three point shooting has proven to be a strength of ours, and I don’t think we’re necessarily taking bad three point shots. I’ve thought we’ve done a good job defensively, just have to take a little bit better care of the ball.”

More experience and reps for the younger players on the squad that have stepped into larger roles will only help when asked to contribute on offense, and Jesuit’s leadership and consistency from the coaching staff will be crucial in determining the trajectory of the team.

Jesuit will try to show why they are a championship contending team in the Les Schwab Invitational over Christmas break, facing top competition around the nation. Their first game in the tournament comes against Perry High School in Arizona at the Chiles Center on December 27th.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Jack Harrington
Jack Harrington, Staff Writer
A hardworking and determined junior who is willing to listen to many ideas that others have to offer, Jack Harrington is willing to share knowledge on the sports world beyond his high school experience. Harrington is excited to be a main factor in JCTV and the broadcasting program. Harrington has seen first hand professional sports with his uncle and Jesuit alum, Scott Harrington, playing pro golf on the PGA Tour.  Developing an interest in sports journalism through listening to podcasts produced by ESPN and The Ringer, as well as being an NBA superfan and learning more about broadcasting and writing in the sports world through his sports experiences. Some of Harrington’s interests include golf, traveling, and hanging out with his three dogs. Driven to elevate Jesuit’s sports broadcasting program, Harrington is looking forward to showing up on JCTV productions as well as writing articles on the Jesuit Chronicle. With a passion for learning more about the journalism world, he strives to have a successful career in professional golf and the sports industry.