Boys Basketball

3-pointer by Jack Wetzel gives Cedar Rapids Kennedy boys' basketball an overtime win at Jefferson

Boys' basketball: Cougars (2-1, 1-0 MVC) rally to win conference opener, 59-58, in overtime

CEDAR RAPIDS — Jack Wetzel looked perfectly at ease in a high-pressure situation.

Faced with a late-game deficit, the Cedar Rapids Kennedy sophomore drilled a 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds left in overtime as the Cougars rallied past Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 59-58, in a Mississippi Valley Conference boys’ basketball opener Friday night at Jefferson.

“That is a situation I feel pretty comfortable in,” Wetzel said. “My teammates set two great screens, Jackson (Foley) made a great pass and I just saw the shot.”

Kennedy (2-1, 1-0 MVC) trailed for nearly the entire game after surrendering a 6-2 lead in the first quarter to a 9-2 Jefferson burst.

The J-Hawks’ lead reached 11 at 38-27 after a steal and basket by junior forward Kyran Ligon with 3:20 left in the third quarter.

Kennedy cut into the deficit with eight second-half free throws, then a mid-range jumper from 6-foot-2 guard Derrick Diggins gave the Cougars their first lead since the opening minutes at 49-47 with 1:06 to go.

“We go through this every day,” said Diggins, who finished with a game-high 30 points. “We call a situation where we set the clock and set a certain number of points we’re down by, a certain numbers of points we’re up by and we work with it. We battle through it. This is just another day for us.”

A basket by Jefferson sophomore guard Ozzie Meiborg with 49 seconds left sent the game to overtime.

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Kennedy converted five more free throws in overtime. A Diggins drive and spinning layup gave Kennedy a 56-55 lead with 42 seconds to go. With just 16 seconds left, Jefferson junior guard Willie Guy III squared up from 25 feet away and made a 3-pointer that reclaimed the lead, 58-56.

“It just came down to a last-second shot,” said Guy, who led the J-Hawks with 24 points.

That last-second shot belonged to Wetzel, and with it came a stirring Cougars victory.

“What a better way to figure out how tough we are on the road?” Kennedy Coach Jon McKowen said.

Wetzel finished with 13 points, while Diggins led Kennedy with eight rebounds. Foley distributed three assists.

Meiborg collected 13 points, six rebounds and four assists for Jefferson (1-2, 0-1).

Kennedy will continue to be without seniors Ki Jenkins and Keeler Dix, who both started the season-opener. Jenkins left school, while Dix is tending to personal matters off the floor.

“We’re in full support and communication with both of the guys,” McKowen said. “Both kids had things a lot more important than basketball going on in their lives right now. That’s OK. We still support them. They’re still our teammates, they just don’t play with us right now.”

AT C.R. JEFFERSON

C.R. KENNEDY (59): Jackson Foley 1 2-2 4, Grant Griffin 0 6-10 6, Zachary Drahos 0 0-0 0, Michael Watkins 0 0-0 0, Derrick Diggins 11 7-10 30, Jack Wetzel 4 4-4 13, Ethan Sailer 2 0-0 4, Totals 18 19-26 59.

C.R. JEFFERSON (58): Ozzie Meiborg 6 1-2 13, Kyler Bell 2 3-3 7, Brayden Frazier 0 0-0 0, Raejzuan Shockley 1 0-0 2, Blaze Bouzek 1 0-0 3, Kyran Ligon 2 3-4 7, Willie Guy III 9 2-3 24, Jetmir Zeneli 0 0-0 0, Ryan Blum 0 0-0 0, Trenton Kuennen 1 0-0 2, Totals 22 9-12 58.

C.R. Kennedy 10 13 10 16 10—59

C.R. Jefferson 13 14 13 9 9—58

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Halftime — Jefferson, 27-23. End of regulation — Tied, 49-49. Three-point goals — Kennedy 2 (Diggins, Wetzel), Jefferson 5 (Guy III 4, Bouzek 1). Rebounds — Kennedy 25 (Diggins 8), Jefferson 24 (Meiborg 6). Assists — Kennedy 7 (Foley 3), Jefferson 9 (Meiborg 4), Total fouls — Kennedy 12, Jefferson 17. Fouled out — None.

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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