116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
ALBURNETT — How good is the Tri-Rivers Conference in boys’ basketball this season? Just how good?
Well, it’s stinkin’ good, good enough that a five-loss team from it knocked off a team from another league Monday night that went in with a 17-1 record and had been ranked in Class 1A’s top 10 most of the season.
Andrew Ossman hit a go-ahead couple of free throws with 18 seconds left in overtime, and New London missed a 3-point attempt from past the arc at the buzzer as Alburnett pulled off a 64-62 win Monday night.
“We’re in one of the top conferences in Iowa, by far,” said Ossman, who had a team-high 17 points in this thriller. “There are four really good teams up top that are balanced. Even on the other side, you’ve got three really good teams.”
The four good ones in the Tri-Rivers West are Alburnett, 1A second-ranked North Linn (19-1), Springville (15-4) and Edgewood-Colesburg (17-3). Over in the East, you’ve got 1A No. 7 Easton Valley (17-2) and Lisbon (16-5), teams that likely are to end co-champions in the division.
Other teams in the league also have winning records: Bellevue Marquette (12-9) and Cedar Valley Christian (11-10).
“It’s as good as it’s ever been,” said Alburnett Coach Jeff Christopherson. “And I’ve been around a lot of years.”
This game had very little seperation from the teams throughout it. It was tied at 52 with 2:40 to go and at 54 with 1:50 left.
Braydon Osborn hit a huge 3-pointer with 1:05 remaining in regulation for a 58-55 lead. It was a 60-57 Pirates edge with 6.0 seconds left and New London with the ball out of bounds near midcourt.
The ball ended up in the hands of Tigers forward-center Devin Swanson, who somehow banked in a tying 3 from the wing after pump-faking and going up off balance between two Alburnett defenders surrounding him. It was 60-60 to overtime.
“We just felt like we had the momentum going into overtime,” Ossman said. “ Even after that shot, we felt confidence. We weren’t scared. It was just going back out the same mindset we had.”
“Don’t let things like that bother us,” Christopherson said. “We’re in pretty good condition. Our kids are in good shape, so another four minutes doesn’t matter. We could have hung our heads, but we didn’t.”
Osborn added 13 points and center Tytan Bowers 10 for Alburnett, which had an eye-raising win a couple weeks ago against 2A Dyersville Beckman. The Pirates stay away from North Linn in districts and substates, which is a good thing.
Those teams conclude the regular season Tuesday night at North Linn. Outstanding point guard Blaise Porter led New London with 17 points, with forward Kade Benjamin adding 16 and Swanson 15.
“I think we’re playing good basketball right now at the right time,” Christopherson said. “Our sophomore kids have really developed ... When we lock in, we play as good of defense as I’d say we ever have.”
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