With star PJ Fuller struggling to find his shot, another junior guard picked up the slack. Jamon Kemp scored nine points in the third quarter to help jump-start the Bulldogs, and finished with a game-high 18 points.
PORTLAND — After he looked at his team’s schedule early in the season, Garfield High coach Brandon Roy wasn’t a fan of this one.
Having dispatched Metro League rival Rainier Beach in emphatic fashion Friday, the Bulldogs kept their undefeated season alive Monday with a 63-57 victory over Jefferson of Portland at Lewis & Clark College in the MLK Invitational.
Roy said his team was tired from the victory Friday, and while traveling to Portland to play the Democrats (11-4) wasn’t ideal, he said his guys showed guts and resolve to pull away.
“That was an emotional win against a rival Friday,” Roy said. “When I made the schedule, I didn’t plan it to be this way. That was somewhat a fumble on me, but at the same time I got a chance to learn a lot about our guys.”
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With star PJ Fuller struggling to find his shot, another junior guard picked up the slack. Jamon Kemp, Shawn Kemp’s son, scored nine points in the third quarter to help jump-start the Bulldogs, and he ended with a game-high 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting. Eddie Turner chipped in 12 points, including a well-timed three-pointer at 3:15 of the fourth quarter. It gave the Bulldogs (14-0) a 57-46 lead and capped a 6-0 flurry that spanned about two minutes.
Roy said his team’s depth has been its biggest asset, and while Fuller gets the headlines with his hyper-athletic, highlight-reel ability, the Bulldogs aren’t all flash.
“Kemp was great on both ends for us tonight,” Roy said. “I didn’t think he knew he was going to end up guarding Jefferson’s big guy (Texas signee Kamaka Hepa), but J’Raan (Brooks) was sick and I told Jamon that he’ll have to guard the other team’s best player every night. Jamon has been accepting the challenges we give him.”
Even playing sick, Brooks was a force inside for the Bulldogs. He notched a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds on 5-for-8 shooting that included a gorgeous fallaway jumper to tie the score at 23-23 early in the second quarter. It was one of just three field goals Garfield made in the frame, and thankfully for the Bulldogs, it was an ugly quarter for everybody.
The teams combined to shoot 7 for 25 in the second, but Garfield made up for it in the third. The Bulldogs shot 8 for 13 to turn a 29-28 halftime deficit into a 47-40 lead heading into the fourth.
“We were feeling them out a little too much,” Roy said about his team’s first-half play. “When we’re aggressive and attacking on defense, that’s when we’re better. We can guard multiple positions and switch and do whatever we have to do, but it all came down to just playing harder.”
Garfield weathered Jefferson’s storm on multiple occasions, but following Khalil Chatman’s inside bucket at the 5:23 mark to pull the Democrats to 51-46, Kemp had a wide-open layup and Turner buried a three-pointer on a pass from Kemp from the low block to quell the first Jefferson run.
The Democrats cut the lead the 60-57 late after Robert Ford hit a pair of foul shots, but when Garfield needed Fuller the most, he delivered. Fuller hit a pair of foul shots with 20.4 seconds left to stretch Garfield’s lead back to 62-57. Fuller finished the night with seven points on 1-of-7 shooting.
For Jefferson, Marcus Tsohonis led the way with 17 points, but had to take 19 shots to get there. He finished 7-for-19 from the field and 1-for-6 from three-point range. Chatman scored 16 points on 5-for-6 shooting with nine rebounds.
Jefferson outrebounded Garfield 37-28, but the Bulldogs held the advantage in assists 17-10. Each team had nine turnovers.
In an earlier game in the tournament, Rainier Beach beat West Linn of Oregon, 83-53, and the Vikings’ Kevin Porter Jr. finished with 31 points.