CEDAR RAPIDS — At the third-quarter buzzer Monday night, Western Dubuque’s Sam Goodman retrieved a defensive rebound underneath his team’s basket and blindly fired a ball all the way down court.
Well, not all the way. Somehow, the high-arching heave got caught in the mesh overhang above half court at the Cedar Rapids Jefferson gym.
Everyone looked up in amusement, waiting for a basketball to fall that wasn’t going to fall. It was trapped, which Western Dubuque was throughout a first half that allowed Jefferson to build a substantial lead they never relinquished in a 57-49 Class 4A substate quarterfinal win.
“I’m so proud of the boys,” said Jefferson Coach Brandon Horman. “We did the things we had to do.”
Jefferson (11-11) took a 30-16 halftime lead, thanks in large part to a half-court trap and 1-3-1 zone defense that seemed to take Western Dubuque (9-13) out of its offensive rhythm. The J-Hawks took as large as a 17-point second-half edge, with WD scratching within seven but no closer.
“We really stepped up on defense these last two days in practice,” said Jefferson guard Willie Guy. “We’ve been working extremely hard on our defense.”
“We got stops in the first place,” added Jeff forward Kane Kramer. “Then after we get stops, we push the ball in transition, get layups, open shots. That leads to success for us.”
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Guy stroked four 3-pointers to accumulate a game-high 19 points. The 5-foot-11 sophomore also tied for the team lead in rebounds with eight.
Kramer added 13 points. Freshman center Raejzuan Shockley was a significant factor in the first-half run, coming off the bench and providing 10 points and five rebounds in limited minutes.
It was his energy on the offensive boards that Western Dubuque Coach Dennis Geraghty felt was key.
“We dug ourselves such a hole in the first half by not blocking out and them getting the rebound,” Geraghty said. “Those second shots really hurt us. This is why we are going into the Valley. We have to learn how to play against teams like this. We are not used to that every night in the Wamac.”
Dylan Gotto led the Bobcats with 16 points. Western Dubuque had five sophomores and three freshmen on its roster, meaning it should be more than prepared for its entry into the Mississippi Valley Conference in two years.
Jefferson, meanwhile, gets another shot at Dubuque Hempstead, this time in a 4A substate semifinal Friday night in Dubuque. The Mustangs beat the J-Hawks, 86-70, in the regular-season finale last week.
“After this game, I think we’re ready,” Guy said. “We’ve worked on what we needed to work on during practice, during this week. We’ll come out prepared.”
“It’s good for us (to play them again),” Kramer said. “That’s the last game that they’ve played, so it’s kind of an advantage for us having played another game before them.”
AT C.R. JEFFERSON
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WESTERN DUBUQUE (49): Calvin Harris 3-13 4-5 11, Ryan Samson 4-5 0-0 8, Dylan Gotto 6-17 1-2 16, Nick Lembezeder 0-3 0-0 0, Kyle Cleary 1-3 0-0 2, Danny Recker 2-5 3-4 7, Sam Goodman 0-3 0-0 0, Kale Cartee 0-3 0-0 0, Grant Kelchen 1-4 0-0 2, Andrew Welty 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 18-57 8-11 49.
C.R. JEFFERSON (57): Kane Kramer 4-11 2-4 13, T.J. Kuennen 1-5 2-4 4, Ryan Blum 0-2 2-2 2, Royshawn Webb 1-6 0-0 3, Willie Guy 7-10 1-2 19, Kyler Bell 2-7 1-3 6, Curtis Shaw 0-0 0-0 0, Raejzuan Shockley 5-5 0-0 10. Totals 20-46 8-15 57.
Halftime — Jefferson 30, Western Dubuque 16. 3-point goals — Western Dubuque 5-26 (Harris 1-8, Gotto 3-8, Lembezeder 0-3, Goodman 0-2, Cartee 0-2, Kelchen 0-2, Welty 1-2), Jefferson 9-21 (Kramer 3-8, Webb 1-4, Guy 4-6, Bell 1-3). Rebounds — Western Dubuque 37 (Samson 7), Jefferson 33 (Guy, Kuennen 8). Total fouls — Western Dubuque 16, Jefferson 14. Fouled out — Samson. Turnovers — Western Dubuque 11, Jefferson 11.
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