Farmers End Jesuit’s Scrappy Playoff Run

By Randy Jennings / Contributor

CARROLLTON — Jesuit Dallas was not a typical fourth-place district finisher, proven in a pair of playoff wins and almost punching its ticket to the Region I tournament.

With junior forward Michael Grant pouring in 25 points including length-of-the-floor 3-pointer, the Rangers took Lewisville to the wire before falling 63-59 in a Class 6A Region I quarterfinal on Tuesday.

Jesuit (24-10), the fourth seed and last team standing from District 7-6A, owned a brief lead early in the fourth quarter and remained within striking distance until the final half-minute.

“I really liked the way we were playing at the end of the year,” said Jesuit coach Chris Hill, who was trying to guide the Rangers to their fourth regional appearance after prior trips in 2017, 2018 and 2021. “We weren’t a real fourth seed. We were just a couple of plays from being champion of the district.”

Lewisville (31-4), runner-up in District 6-6A, earned the school’s first regional tournament appearance since 2000 and will meet Keller on Friday in Fort Worth.

The Farmers’ backcourt combination of Rakai Crawford and Landon Brown combined for 40 points. Crawford, who finished with 22, dropped four pressure-packed free throws in the final minute when Jesuit trailed by only two points.

“Their guards present a tough matchup for us, especially when they are making 3-pointers,” said Hill. “They are so quick and dynamic.”

Jesuit did not go away, however. A layup by Hank Gramlich with 1:40 remaining brought Jesuit within 57-55. Lewisville slowed the pace on its next possession. Crawford was fouled and restored the lead to four with a pair of free throws with a minute left.

Grant answered with two free throws with 43 seconds remaining. “We were in good shape at that point,” said Hill.

The Rangers fouled Crawford again with 32 seconds on the clock and he converted for a 61-57 lead. Jesuit’s last hope ended on a turnover with 15 seconds remaining.

Gramlich had the hot hand early scoring seven of his 13 points in the opening quarter. Jesuit showed its character by rallying from a 14-point deficit in the second quarter to close within three, 36-33, at intermission.

Grant put the exclamation mark on an 18-7 run with his stunning 90-foot, three-point heave at the buzzer.

Lewisville threatened to pull away earlier in the half with a 16-point run, fueled by uncharacteristic Jesuit turnovers. A couple of those came in the game’s final minutes.

“Handling the ball has been one of our strengths,” said Hill.

Caleb Steger injured his shooting hand in the second half but remained in the game and finished with 13 points and led the team in rebounds with five. Jesuit graduates three starters, but Steger and Grant are juniors.

“These playoff games were fun,’’ said Hill.

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