Barlow brings a Triple Threat
Opposing coaches will have some long nights ahead preparing to face the No. 10-ranked Barlow boys this basketball playoff season.
The Bruins can fill up a scouting report, largely behind their Triple Threat in senior Dominic Jacoby and junior guards Evan Inglesby and Jesse White — all ranking among the top-10 in the Mount Hood Conference in scoring. White and Inglesby, who have been coming to Bruins' camps together since third grade, are 1-2 at the top of that list.
"Good shooting can make up for a lot, and all of those guys are capable of scoring in a hurry for us," Barlow coach Tom Johnson said.
White has been the player that has garnered the most attention through the course of the season, to the point that Barlow has defenders face guard him in practice to prepare him for what he's likely to see on game night.
Still, he has put up almost 26 points per game. Leave him alone on the perimeter, and he'll launch from several steps behind the arc. Put a defender on his toes, and he'll pull off a crossover move and drive the lane. Have someone shadow him around the court, and White will tirelessly run off screens in Barlow's motion offense until he loses his man.
"He's a tireless worked off the ball," Johnson said. "I had a retired college coach, who gets out to around 50 high school games come up and tell me he's the best off-the-ball player he's seen all year."
Put too much attention on White, and Inglesby will fill the bucket fast. He leads the team with a 57-percent shooting rate and is known to charge up the Super Fans with his breakaway two-hand jams.
He is also a killer at the free-throw line where he is shooting 82 percent — better than 4 out of every 5 foul shots going through the hoop.
"Making free throws, especially late in a game, is a great weapon to have," Inglesby said. "Those are free points, you want to get them."
His accuracy at the line is not by accident. Inglesby shoots sets of 10 in practice and won't leave until he's sank 10 straight.
"I force myself to go out on a good note," he said.
Jacoby has long been the heart of his teams whether it's on the football field or the basketball court. He's the one to provide that emotional charge.
"He plays fearlessly. Dom gives us a level of toughness that you can't coach," Johnson said. "He plays his best in the big games and that has a real effect on the rest of the team."
He may also be the most difficult of the three to slow down due to his ability to strike from so many spots on the floor. He is hitting 50 percent from the field and averaging almost four assists per game. Bring down a double team, and Jacoby is adept at finding the open man for an easy look.
"Dom is a tough matchup for people," Johnson said. "If you don't guard him on the perimeter, he'll hit the 3, but if you put a quicker guy on him, he'll score down low."
The trio's ability to put the ball through the net is the result of putting extra hours in at the gym. Johnson opens the gym three days a week during the off-season and on Saturdays during the year.
"T.J. gives us as many opportunities as we wish, and that means a lot to us," Inglesby said. "He takes a lot of pride and joy in basketball."
Other times, White will fire of a text message asking coach to unlock the doors.
"Jesse calls me a lot," Johnson says with a laugh.
"They spend a lot of time in the gym to improve their shooting, and they come in with their own regiment. They are not just here to shoot around, they come in with a purpose."
Inglesby credits a lot of 1-on-1 play during these sessions with sharpening his skills and ability to get off his shot. All three pointed to these extra hours as a time to improve any weakness they perceive in their game.
"If I'm coming off a tough shooting night, I'll put up shots. If I had too many turnovers, I'll work on ball-handling drills," White said.
Another favorite shooting exercise involves one shooter, one ball and one rebounder. Two minutes on the clock, and the goal is to knock down 20 shots from behind the arc — one ball going through the net every six seconds.
"That's what I believe a good shooter should get," Johnson said.
If one of the trio fails to hit that benchmark they will insert themselves back into line and run the drill again. White holds the unofficial record with 27. He also holds the official school record with nine 3s in a game during the Bruins' season-opening win against Wilson.
The Bruins are 17-7 through the regular season, holding down the state's No. 1 spot early in the year after a 99-95 win over Jefferson — a rematch from the previous year's state semifinals.
"That set the tone for our season and showed us that we really are contenders," Inglesby said.
The quest for a return to the Chiles Center begins at 7 p.m. tonight against Southwest Conference co-leader Sheldon — the Bruins' first home playoff game since 2012.
"It's emotional. Time really does have wings," said Jacoby, one of six seniors.
Barlow won a pair of road games to reach last season's 6A tournament as a No. 20 seed. This time around, the Bruins start their quest ranked No. 10.
Getting back to the big stage is one goal along the way, but it's not the ultimate treasure.
"Our drive every day to to put a banner up there," said White, pointing to the top of the gym wall. "During the season it's a lot of familiar faces watching you play, but at the Chiles it's a different environment — everyone is there wanting to see the action."
For Johnson, he has plenty of wins over the course of his career, ranking among the top-10 all-time in Oregon preps history. You get the feeling he encounters his treasure every day when he walks into the gym for practice.
"They are a group of kids that is great to be around," Johnson said. "Each one of them is special to me in their own way."
This story appears in our Tuesday, Feb. 26, print edition.