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Christian Green’s debut with Grant a memorable one as Oregon players test themselves against elite talent at Les Schwab Invitational

“It was fun competing against people that are taller and more athletic. It’s very cool and it’s a great opportunity to showcase what you’ve got against good athletes.”

By Bob Lundeberg | Photos by Naji Saker  

HILLSBORO — The bright lights of the Les Schwab Invitational bring out the best in Christian Green.

While playing for Cleveland at last year’s tournament, Green averaged 17.3 points and 9.3 rebounds as the Warriors placed fifth. The star wing was back at it Tuesday night to help his new team — Grant — take on nationally-ranked Bishop Gorman.

In his first game as a General, Green finished with a team-high 19 points and four steals at Liberty High School in Hillsboro, Oregon. The Gaels pulled away in the second half for an 89-60 opening-round victory, but Green netted 15 first-half points to keep Grant within striking distance for a while. 

“He’s a kid that rises to the occasion,” first-year Generals coach Dondrale Campbell said of Green. Campbell and Green played major roles in leading Cleveland to its first PIL title in 60 years and a Class 6A state tournament berth last winter.

“He shows up in big moments, and he’s a gamer. He’s been that way since he was a young kid, and it’s starting to show up more and more as he’s growing up and getting more skill. It’s really a joy to watch.”

Green was a second-team all-league selection as a junior while Campbell won PIL coach of the year honors. Campbell was hired to replace Robert Key, who is now at West Linn, in late July, and Green was originally set to play his final high school season for Jefferson. 

Green declined to go into detail about his departure from Jefferson, but he reunited with Campbell at Grant this month. He said he participated in about five practices before Tuesday’s game.

“There’s some stuff that happened, and I had to come here,” Green said. “(Campbell’s) been coaching me since like the sixth grade. I feel connected to him.”

Added Campbell: “It’s great to have him now. He led us in scoring, he’s very vocal defensively, he’s our best passer. It’s a great addition and I’m very thankful to have him. … He had to get in shape after going through what he went through personally, and he was able to rise to the occasion and play hard. I’m proud of him.”

Bishop Gorman Les Schwab Invitational 2022 Naji Saker -79

Despite joining the team partway through the season, Green said he’s fit in seamlessly.

“We all get along good,” he explained. “It pretty much feels the same as last year (with Cleveland).”

Green was one of four Generals to score in double figures against Bishop Gorman. Charlie Kapranos (11 points, four assists), Charles Manigo (11 points) and Mekhi Muhammad (10 points) also had strong performances.

Despite facing a team ranked No. 20 nationally in the SBLive/Sports Illustrated Power 25, Green didn’t change his approach against the Gaels. He said it’s the key to his success in big games. 

“To me, it’s the same as playing against anybody else,” he said. 

Green’s former team, Cleveland, also hung tough for about two and a half quarters on Tuesday. National No. 1 Duncanville led by 14 at halftime and poured it on late for an 85-54 victory over the Warriors

Jamel Pichon paced Cleveland with 17 points while teammates Jackson Cooper (12 points, eight rebounds), Jackson Owens (10 points) and Sean Chris Tresvant (10 points, three steals) also contributed.

In the late game, Jesuit missed a few good looks early and couldn’t recover in an 87-61 loss to national No. 16 Sierra Canyon

“They are all super athletic, and we were completely out-manned,” Jesuit junior wing Nico Rafalovich said. “I actually feel like we stuck with them at the start, though. When they start hitting threes and getting offensive rebounds, it’s just really hard to compete with them.”

Added senior guard Isaiah Crane: “It was fun competing against people that are taller and more athletic. It’s very cool and it’s a great opportunity to showcase what you’ve got against good athletes.”

Sierra Canyon Jesuit Les schwab invitational 2022 Naji Saker-45

The Liberty High School gym was full for the Bishop Gorman and Duncanville games, but the atmosphere became even more electric when Sierra Canyon took the floor during warmups. Much of the hoopla was for Trailblazers senior Bronny James, the eldest son of LeBron James.

“I was shocked, almost,” Rafalovich said of the crowd. “I walked in here and I couldn’t hear anything, my ears were ringing. I settled into it, though. I got used to it, adjusted to it. But it was an amazing atmosphere in here. 

Dashawn Gatson led the Crusaders with 13 points off the bench. Rafalovich hit a couple of three-pointers and finished with 12 points; Crane had 11 points.

The Crusaders went just 6 of 19 from three-point range and turned it over 17 times against Sierra Canyon’s pressure defense. 

“They were a very good team,” Trailblazers point guard Dylan Metoyer said of Jesuit. “They ran their plays, they executed and they were a very good shooting team. They came out gunning, but it just wasn’t enough.” 

Under head coach Gene Potter, Jesuit has pulled off a handful of upsets at the LSI.

Rafalovich said Potter gave some advice to the team before Tuesday night’s game. The tips weren’t enough, but Jesuit didn’t back down against one of the nation’s best teams. 

“(Potter) wanted us to stay calm. He wanted us to jump-stop in the paint, which we did not do,” Rafalovich said. “Be strong with the ball; we didn’t really do that, either. Sometimes it’s just hard. It was just a bad game for us, I think.

“He actually thought we played pretty hard. But when we play a team as good as that and as athletic as that, every mistake you do is going to be amplified … He really felt that our weaknesses showed, but he was proud of us for playing hard.”

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