Jesuit reaching new heights under Hill

Having been at Jesuit for just two years, coach Chris Hill can’t fully appreciate the milestone he helped the Rangers achieve. But all it took was a glance around the gym after Jesuit won its first playoff game since joining the UIL for him to get an idea.

“It was in the back of a lot of the kids’ minds,” Hill said. “It’s only my second year so it’s not really as big an obstacle to me, although I respected the fact that a lot of people around here wanted it to happen. I tried to downplay it as best I could.”

Jesuit roared past a tough Irving MacArthur team, 66-53, on Tuesday, the team’s 13th straight win since Jan. 2.

Hill has quickly turned Jesuit into a winner after the team struggled for years to get out of the first round. Jesuit is ranked No. 17 in the state and enjoying a 26-5 record.

Having strong senior talent has certainly helped. Forwards Chris Udofia (13.9 points per game, 8 rebounds) and Josh Bauer (12 points per game, 7.7 rebounds) give Jesuit Division-I quality players in the paint. Both can play inside and outside.

Their play has opened things up for Jesuit’s sharp-shooting guards. James Leinbaugh had a game-high 19 points against MacArthur, and he’s hit his stride late in the season.

“He’s been playing really really well,” Hill said of Leinbaugh. “The last game of the first half of district against Plano, he hits some big shots. It caused the guys to start looking for him a little bit more. Chris and Josh have been playing so well that it’s really opened things up for him."

Jesuit faces L.D. Bell at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Flower Mound High School in the area round. Should it win, it will face the winner between Duncanville and Flower Mound Marcus.