In many ways, International High School’s season has been one to forget. But on Monday, the Jaguars and senior guard Brian Benavides had a night to remember, erasing a 10-point deficit in a 51-40 nonleague win over visiting Jordan.
Benavides led all scorers with 16 points, to go along with six assists and seven steals, and International (5-19) bounced back from a 17-7 first-quarter deficit, outscoring Jordan (5-20) in each of the final three quarters.
“It’s been an up-and-down season, and we’ve had a lot of downs, but we’ve been playing better since the holiday break,” International coach Aaron Mullen said. “We got down early, but it was good that the kids took that deep breath and were able to put it together.”
Benavides, one of just two seniors on the team, had eight points in the second quarter, which keyed an International run that allowed it to head into the half tied at 23-23.
“He’s been our leading scorer in nearly every game, but he’s not only leading us on the court,” Mullen said. “He’s keeping everybody motivated despite all of the losing. It’s been frustrating for him, because he always wants more.”
International pulled away late, but it was Jordan that looked like the far superior team early, as it dominated the offensive boards and had nine steals in the opening quarter.
The Jordan offense was also productive in the first quarter, scoring 17 points, but the attack went stagnant from then on, as Jordan shot just over 25 percent from the floor and 4-for-22 from 3-point range.
“We got a little complacent, and started to assume things would be easy for us,” Jordan coach Tom Skjervheim said. “They just started to pick us apart and our laziness.”
Skjervheim tried to spark Jordan with mass substitutions in the fourth quarter, but International pulled away steadily in the final frame.
“It was a little bit of frustration and I was trying to motivate them,” Skjervheim said. “I was just asking for a good two minutes [at a time] and if you didn’t give me a good two minutes, here are five guys that will.”
Jordan’s most significant advantage, 6-foot-5 senior center Darius Webb, was all but negated by a tight International zone defense. Webb was held to just six points, but his presence was felt most on the defensive end, where he had five blocks.
“He’s used to that and we’re used to teams collapsing on him,” Skjervheim said. “We have to get better at trying to find him and get him more work to get open.”
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