The kitchen sink almost sank the defending 5A state champions.

West Albany coach Todd Zimmerman started by putting his team in a man-to-man defense, then went to a matchup zone and sprung a half-court trap out of both. The Bulldogs even threw something called the "run and jump" at their talented opponent.

Jefferson struggled offensively but leaned on its postseason experience down the stretch to escape with a 53-47 victory over West Albany in Friday's semifinal at Matthew Knight Arena.

After taking a deep breath, the Democrats (25-1) were thankful to have an opportunity to continue the program's reign in tonight's championship game.

"When they were dropping back, I was focusing on, 'Is it a 1-2-2, a 2-3, a 4-1?' There was all kinds of different stuff," Jefferson coach Pat Strickland said. "They came out man-to-man, but that zone stymied us last year and it stymied us again. ... I'm glad there's no more time on the clock."

Nate Sherwood made a three-pointer to tie the score at 43-all. The 6-foot-8 senior forward finished with 15 points and eight rebounds to lead the Bulldogs (21-6).

But with a trip to the title game in the balance, Kadeem Strickland -- who was 1-for-7 from behind the arc at the time -- calmly drained a three-pointer on the other end to put Jefferson ahead for good.

"It's always a tough game in the semifinals when both teams are trying to get to the championship," Kadeem Strickland said. "That zone was tough. They had a couple long guys up top."

Silas Melson had been held to one point in the second half when the Gonzaga recruit stuck the dagger in, hitting a three-pointer to extend the Democrats' lead to 49-44 with 1:44 remaining.

"They switched up to that matchup zone, and our shots just weren't falling," said Melson, who finished with 21 points on 5-for-15 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds. "I think we handled it well, but we've got to knock down shots more."

Jefferson surged ahead by six points after a dunk by Devaunte Paschal, but a three-pointer from JJ Stewart got the Bulldogs within one possession (39-36) entering the fourth quarter.

"They're so good," Zimmerman said. "We felt like if they got to see any one thing too long they would get in a rhythm and start knocking down shots. We tried just about everything we have in our arsenal."

Melson had 15 points at halftime with three-pointers to cap a 12-0 run in the first quarter and to give the Demos a 29-21 lead in the second quarter.

"Shoot, they knock down two of their last three three-pointers," Zimmerman said. "If we do the same, maybe the result is the opposite way."

Also Friday

Class 5A Consolation

Wilsonville 52, Eagle Point 45: Zach Reichle scored 14 points and the Wildcats (20-7) shot 52 percent to reach today's fourth-place game against Sherwood. Jorge Quintero scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Eagles (21-5).

Sherwood 59, Bend 34: Lucas Johnson scored 21 points, Jordan Kurahara added 16 and the Bowmen (21-5) rolled past the Lava Bears.

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