Cedar Rapids Jefferson boys knock off Washington in overtime, 63-56

Cedar Rapids Jefferson head coach Brandon Horman. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Jefferson head coach Brandon Horman. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — They aren’t big. They’re small, in fact.

But they’ve got heart.

“Our guys are fighters,” Cedar Rapids Jefferson Coach Brandon Horman said Friday, after his boys outlasted Cedar Rapids Washington, 63-56, in overtime. “The early season didn’t quite meet the expectations we’d set forth for us record wise. But in terms of attitude and effort, desire to play and compete, that never left our gym. Through practice, through games, they kept the belief in themselves.”

Jefferson (3-5) won its opener in late November, then went on a five-game skid. Every loss was by nine points or less.

That’ll wear on a team, but this one has perservered. The J-Hawks have won two in a row: albeit a modest win streak, but still a win streak.

“We lost five games in a row by single digits, lost a couple leads in some of them, but they kept believing in themselves,” Horman said. “We kept talking ‘Hey, let’s just go get one.’ Then we go get two. Now the plan is to get three Tuesday night against Cedar Falls.”

Jefferson never trailed here, holding leads of eight points after a quarter and seven points after two and three quarters. Washington (3-5) inched its way back to even, finally tying things on a Ross Snitker lane runner with 1:24 to go, 49-49.

The Warriors appeared to have the last shot of regulation, but turned the ball over with 20 seconds left. An Ozzie Meiborg corner trey just before the buzzer missed for Jeff and sent it to overtime.

Willie Guy III’s steal and layup put the J-Hawks on top for what turned out for good. He finished with a game-high 25 points.

Washington had three consecutive turnovers to begin the OT.

“That was big,” Guy said. “We got back into things, kind of got the pressure off a little bit.”

The Warriors made just 1 of 16 3-pointers in the game and went a pestrian 13 of 24 from the free-throw line. Mick McCurry had a team-high 16 points despite not playing in the first quarter.

Washington won two straight going into the holiday break, including an upset of Linn-Mar. This was a setback.

“I just told the guys it’s a bump in the road,” said Coach Justin Decker. “We have some momentum, we just can’t let this be a roadblock. We’ve got City High coming up, have some chances to get back on track. We’ve been playing good basketball ... This is one you want to get. It just so happened they made more plays.”

Jefferson is as undersized a team as you’ll see at the Class 4A level, playing no one taller than 6-foot-2. Despite facing an at times front line of 6-8, 6-7 and 6-5, the J-Hawks ended up outrebouding Washington.

Back to that heart thing.

AT CEDAR RAPIDS WASHINGTON

CEDAR RAPIDS JEFFERSON (63): Kyran Ligon 2-4 0-0 4, T.J. Kuennen 0-1 0-0 0, Willie Guy III 5-12 11-14 25, Kyler Bell 3-13 9-12 15, Ozzie Meiborg 4-11 4-6 12, Blaze Bouzek 2-7 2-2 7, Raezjuan Shockley 0-1 0-0 0, Brayden Frazier 0-0 0-0 0, Ryan Blum 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-50 26-34 63.

CEDAR RAPIDS WASHINGTON (56): Max Campbell 2-5 1-2 5, Nolan Potter 2-4 0-2 4, Joe McKinstry 0-4 0-0 0, Keaton Woods 3-5 1-2 7, Drew Christensen 5-12 1-1 12, Collin Westmoreland 2-5 0-0 4, Jacob Bockenstedt 0-0 0-0 0, Chandlir Haug 0-0 0-0 0, Mick McCurry 4-6 8-12 16, Ross Snitker 3-9 2-5 8. Totals 21-50 13-24 56.

Halftime — Jefferson 33, Washington 26. End of regulation — Jefferson 49, Washington 49. 3-point goals — Jefferson 5-20 (Guy 4-9, Bell 0-3, Meiborg 0-3, Bouzek 1-5), Washington 1-16 (McKinstry 0-4, Christensen 1-6, Westmoreland 0-2, McCurry 0-1, Snitker 0-3). Rebounds — Jefferson 39 (Ligon 10), Washington 33 (McCurry 7). Total fouls — Jefferson 20, Washington 22. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Jefferson 10, Washington 15.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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