With Tuesday’s 58-43 district semifinal victory over Scott City, the Jefferson varsity boys basketball team is poised to do something no other Jefferson team has done. A first-ever district title is within reach. The Blue Jays will see if they can accomplish what no other team wearing the blue and white has been able to do. And that opportunity comes Friday.
“It means the world to play in the first ever district championship,” said Jon Weik. “These last couple years have been a roller coaster ride. Me and my teammates are just ready to buckle down and do something special.”
“I’m very happy for the boys, the fans, and the entire school district to be playing in the championship game,” said head coach Sean Breeze. “After each of the district victories, it was great to see how fired up the boys were. They’re such a good group, and they’ve worked so hard. I am very happy for them that they will have a chance on Friday night.”
To get there, they had to defeat a tough Scott City team on Tuesday. And when the score was tied 8-8 after the first quarter, and Jefferson led only 18-12 at halftime, it was evident something other than the offense was going to have to come through for the home team. “It was just playing good defense that helped us get the win tonight,” said Easton Null after the game. “We had a rough first half shooting-wise.” Six points from Weik, and five points each from Null and Erik Eisenbeis helped keep the Jays’ heads above water. “We were not hitting shots in the first half but only allowed 12 first half points to a good team,” said Breeze. “Scott City likes to get to the basket, and the boys knew they had to shut down the lane, and that’s exactly what they did.”
The second half opened up a bit, and that could only mean good things for the Blue Jays. Forty points poured through the nets for Jefferson, and while 31 points made it through for Scott City, it wasn’t enough to make up the deficit. “We picked it up in the second half and got the job done,” said Null. He and Weik each scored 13 second half points, and the Blue Jays punched their ticket to the title tilt on Friday.
Weik scored 19 points, and Null added 18. Levi Ebersoldt scored six points, and Eisenbeis finished with five points. Cole Holdinghausen went four-for-four at the free throw line in the fourth quarter, and Hadyn Wagner hit two-of-two from the line in the fourth as well. Jacob Bridges and Collin Gosnell also closed out the scoring with two points apiece. And while Jefferson was not particularly accurate from the charity stripe, hitting 10-of-18 for the contest, it was eight-of-11 in the fourth quarter.
Because of the weather, Jefferson has an extra day of rest and preparation than its opponent. The St. Pius Lancers and Arcadia Valley Tigers are playing today at 4:30 p.m. to determine who will meet the Jays for the championship. The extra day, while welcomed, isn’t a huge advantage according to Coach Breeze. “I don’t think the rest is too big of a deal,” he said. “It just allows us an extra day to get some shots up, which we could use. Since we won’t know who we face until this evening, both teams will have the same amount of time to prepare for each other.”
The Jays, now 18-8, have lost twice this year to the Lancers, 53-48 on December 29, and 43-42 on February 8. Jefferson won its only meeting against Arcadia Valley, a 67-51 triumph on January 4. The championship game is slated for 7:30 p.m. at Jefferson High School on Friday.
Photos courtesy of Marquis Meyer