Prep Basketball

Cedar Rapids Jefferson's rough week against taller competition ends with loss to Valley

Cedar Rapids Jefferson's Blaze Bouzek. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Jefferson's Blaze Bouzek. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A week of shopping in the big-and-tall section of the store was tough on Cedar Rapids Jefferson’s boys’ basketball team.

The J-Hawks found no bargains, no wins.

A 68-56 non-conference loss Saturday afternoon to West Des Moines Valley at home made it 0-3 this week for Jefferson. All three losses were kind of the same: play hard, hang around but ultimately succumb to an opponent with larger players.

“We’re getting closer,” said Jefferson Coach Brandon Horman. “We’ve seen a lot of size this week, with Cedar Falls, (Cedar Rapids) Prairie and Valley today. Across the board, (playing) against guys 6-7, 6-8, 6-9 presents challenges. We’re finding ways, but we’re not as consistent as we need to be in getting stops in those situations. But we are getting closer.”

This is nothing new for the J-Hawks (2-3). They are undersized, to say the least, with their tallest starter being 6-foot-2 “center” Raejzuan Shockley.

Senior Jackson Snyder is the biggest guy on the roster at 6-4, but he doesn’t play much. Every other player is 6-2 or shorter.

Valley (5-2), meanwhile, rolled out 6-8 Aguek Denk and 6-9 Will Berg. It didn’t seem fair.

“We had a day of prep for them, which was today, and we just looked up at the board and saw 6-8, 6-6,” said Jefferson’s Blaze Bouzek. “Just kind of what we saw (Friday) night with Prairie. We’ve been emphasizing this week rebounding ... Been focusing, pushing rebounding. We know we’re undersized and we can’t out-jump people.”

The way Jefferson has to win is play hard (which it does), be sound in its 2-3 zone defense, push the pace offensively and hit some 3-pointers. Not quite half of Jeff’s field-goal attempts Saturday came from beyond the arc (27 of 57), with Bouzek making five himself in a 17-point effort.

Valley, which shot 59 percent from the field, led by nine at halftime and by as many as 16 in the third quarter. Jefferson rallied within eight in the fourth and had a couple of good looks at treys that would have cut its deficit to five, but neither fell.

It was a guard, Evan Obia, who actually led Valley in scoring with 13 points, though Deng and Berg had 12 each. Deng hauled in 12 rebounds.

“I’m for sure we’ll be able to shake this off,” Bouzek said. “We have a bunch of tough guys, veterans, a bunch of seniors. We all know that the MVC (Mississippi Valley Conference) is open. What Coach Horman has been telling us is anyone can beat anyone.”

“We take pride in what we do, in terms of defensively,” Horman said. “We’ve really got to be sharp in our rotations, and we’ve got to be excellent communicators. When we do those things well, we are able to get stops. We’ve had some success at times in turning teams over within our zone. Each game presents different challenges to us. We just have to adjust.”

AT CEDAR RAPIDS JEFFERSON

WEST DES MOINES VALLEY (68): Trayvon Williams 4-5 4-4 12, Aguek Deng 6-9 0-1 12, Will Berg 4-5 4-4 12, Evan Obia 4-6 4-4 13, Sam Stevens 2-7 0-0 6, Michael Chambers 1-2 2-3 4, Grant Rieker 2-3 0-0 6, Drew Jirak 1-4 0-0 3. Totals 24-41 14-16 68.

C.R. JEFFERSON (56): Sam Staley 1-2 0-0 2, Raejzuan Shockley 4-12 2-4 10, Willie Guy 3-10 0-0 6, Ozzie Meiborg 4-15 0-0 12, Blaze Bouzek 6-12 0-0 17, Dymonte Hawkins 2-3 2-2 6, Tytan Meyers 1-3 0-0 3, Jackson Snyder 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-57 4-6 56.

Halftime — Valley 32, Jefferson 23. 3-point goals — Valley 6-15 (Obia 1-2, Stevens 2-7, Rieker 2-3, Jirak 1-2), Jefferson 10-27 (Shockley 0-1, Guy 0-3, Meiborg 4-11, Bouzek 5-10, Meyers 1-2). Rebounds — Valley 29 (Deng 12), Jefferson 24 (Hawkins 10). Total fouls — Valley 7, Jefferson 15. Fouled out — Hawkins. Turnovers — Valley 10, Jefferson 5.

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

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