TAMPA — After a slow start against Blake this week, Jesuit coach Neal Goldman stressed to his team the importance of getting off to a better start against district foe Robinson on Friday. Jesuit responded, jumping out to a 15-3 lead en route to a 69-56 win over the Knights in a 5A, District 11 showdown.
“We didn’t start out well on Tuesday with Blake and they hung around with us,” said Jesuit point guard Devin Harris. “That didn’t happen tonight, and we came out strong.”
The Tigers (14-1) did, due in large part to the contributions of Harris, who had a game-high 22 points.
“Devin Harris is a warrior,” Goldman said. “He’s a tough, tough kid. As a point guard he rebounds, plays inside, and when we need a big basket I trust having the ball in his hands to make the right play.”
For Robinson (12-4), early on the game had to feel like a replay of its Dec. 6 contest against Jesuit, when the Knights trailed 15-3 after one quarter and were down 23 at halftime.
Another sluggish start doomed the Knights, and only a strong first half by forward Justin Madison — who had a team-high 17 points — kept Robinson in the game.
“We couldn’t hit our shots in the first quarter,” Robinson coach Steve Smith said. “Give Jesuit credit, they came out and knocked down theirs.”
Jesuit pulled away in the third quarter behind eight points from Harris, who three times answered a Robinson basket with one of his own.
By the end of the third quarter, the Tigers had opened up a 20-point lead.
“Coach said he need a big one from us,” Harris said. “It’s always harder to beat a team a second time, but tonight we came out and hit our shots.”