CEDAR RAPIDS - The Cedar Rapids Rampage were taking a long, uncomfortable glance towards 0-4.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — After the first quarter Tuesday night, little Jackson Foley was outscoring A.J. Green by a 10-2 margin.
One of the top two juniors in the state never did catch up to the Cedar Rapids Kennedy guard, and that was a huge reason the Cougars came away with a 48-41 win in a Class 4A substate final at the U.S. Cellular Center.
“I mean, I don’t know personally if I knew I was going to outscore him,” Foley said. “But as a team, we were going to attempt to shut him down and make sure he couldn’t get the shots off he wanted to. I was just getting good looks, and my team was setting great screens for me, so I just had to knock down the shots.”
Kennedy (18-5) reversed two of its losses at the best possible time, qualifying for the boys’ state basketball tournament for the third time in four years under head coach Jon McKowen. The coach put in a good game plan, and his guys executed it perfectly.
The Cougars will find out with everyone else who their quarterfinal opponent will be next week. Coaches are seeding the state tourney this season, and the Iowa High School Athletic Association is revealing brackets online at 1 p.m.
“It’s never easy to get down there,” McKowen said. “You have to play somebody extremely good, and we had to play two of them this year in Mason City and Cedar Falls. Against both teams, we felt if we could take a couple things away, we’d have a pretty good shot.”
The 6-foot-3 Green came in averaging 22 points per game, had 29 in his team’s substate semifinal win over Cedar Rapids Prairie last Friday night and went off for 32 in the second regular-season game against Kennedy. He’s as pure a shooter as you will find anywhere.
But Kennedy threw body after body after body at him, and Green never got going. He finished 2 of 14 from the field, failing to make even one 3-pointer.
“That was the plan, yeah,” Foley said. “Keep everybody fresh, give him different looks and try to keep him out of rhythm.”
“We ran nine different guys at A.J., got his heart rate up a little bit,” McKowen said. “So hopefully we had something to do with him missing some shots. It was a fantastic effort from every single one of them.”
The 5-foot-7 Foley, meanwhile, was an offensive sparkplug. He jitterbugged through the lane and scored over guys, adding a pair of 3-pointers over guys.
Kennedy took a 17-7 lead after a quarter, and it was 24-11 at halftime. Cedar Falls (16-8) only got as close as six points the rest of the way.
“Jackson did a tremendous job of taking the easy shots and creating for everyone else and just making the game as easy as possible for his teammates,” said Kennedy’s Drake Brewster.
Foley didn’t score again after the first quarter, but he didn’t need to. He set the tone.
“The way they were playing Jackson, he had to be aggressive,” McKowen said. “They were kind of packing it around him and playing him soft off the ball screen. Jackson’s our best 3-point shooter percentage-wise, so we constantly as coaches tell him to shoot the ball more. He did tonight, man. He kind of put us on his back there in the first quarter.”
Brewster led Kennedy with 17 points, going 13 for 16 from the free-throw line. Sophomore Jackson Frericks had 17 points to lead Cedar Falls, which returns four of its five starters next season.
That includes Green, who has offers from the likes of Iowa State, Stanford and Northern Iowa, where his father, Kyle, is an assistant coach.
“A.J.’s as good a player I’ve ever seen at the high-school level,” said CF Coach Ryan Schultz. “I’d give him the next shot again in a second. It was just one of those nights.”
AT U.S. CELLULAR CENTER
CEDAR FALLS (41) Logan Wolf 0-0 2-2 2, Ben Gerdes 1-3 0-0 3, Isaiah Johnson 3-7 0-0 6, Jackson Frericks 6-9 2-2 17, A.J. Green 2-14 2-4 6, Sam Gary 1-1 0-0 2, Jack Campbell 1-1 0-0 2, Reese Gardner 0-0 0-0 0, Dan Martinson 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 15-36 6-8 41.
C.R. KENNEDY (48): Drake Brewster 2-7 13-16 17, Jackson Foley 4-10 0-0 10, Derrick Diggins 4-11 1-2 9, Matt Berst 2-4 1-2 5, Malik Haynes 1-3 0-0 3, Nick Duehr 0-0 1-2 1, Ki Jenkins 0-1 0-0 0, Isaiah Harris 1-2 0-0 3, Jack Wetzel 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-38 16-22 48.
Halftime — Kennedy 24, Cedar Falls 11. 3-point goals — Cedar Falls 5-16 (Gerdes 1-2, Johnson 0-2, Frericks 3-4, Green 0-7, Martinson 1-1), Kennedy 4-15 (Brewster 0-1, Foley 2-5, Diggins 0-2, Berst 0-1, Haynes 1-3, Jenkins 0-1, Harris 1-2). Rebounds — Cedar Falls 26 (Frericks, Green, Wolf 5), Kennedy 22 (Berst 7). Total fouls — Cedar Falls 20, Kennedy 8. Fouled out — Green. Turnovers — Cedar Falls 16, Kennedy 8.
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