DES MOINES — You didn’t think it could get any worse than last year’s state tournament quarterfinals for the Cedar Rapids Jefferson J-Hawks, but it did.
They went the entire first half Wednesday afternoon without a two-point field goal and 16 minutes and 10 seconds between field goals, period. They ended up shooting 18.9 percent.
With numbers like that, a 58-26 loss to top-ranked Ankeny was assumed.
“Ankeny has a tremendous defense. It was probably the toughest defense I’ve seen all year,” said Jefferson’s Ky Kramer. “We weren’t really running our offense very well, which goes to show how good their defense was. Some of the stuff we did to prepare for them, we didn’t really run very well. We just couldn’t get anything going.”
This was so eerily similar offensively to Jefferson’s 45-39 loss last March to Des Moines Hoover. The J-Hawks were shut down by a top-notch opponent from the Central Iowa Metro League, with one player (Wisconsin red-shirt freshman Jarrod Uthoff) having every one of their field goals part way into the fourth quarter.
They ended up shooting 24.4 percent that night. Somehow this was worse.
“It was kind of the same game, now that you say that,” said Jefferson’s Taylor Olson. “Just hard to score.”
Jefferson (15-9) hung around for a little while, taking an 11-10 lead on two Justin Underwood free throws seconds into the second quarter. But Ankeny (24-0) went on a 13-0 run that ended suspicion.
Six-foot-nine junior center Ted Friedman was way too much for the undersized J-Hawks, notching a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds in just 23 minutes. Though you’ve got to say it was the other side of the ball that really won this game for Ankeny.
“First off, I’d like to compliment Ankeny. They really played great defense,” said Jefferson Coach Stu Ordman. “We had trouble getting into any of our offensive sets.”
Jefferson seemed to lose a lot of spirit when starting forward Alec Saunders went down after aggravating a high right-ankle sprain in the first quarter. Somehow Saunders gutted out a return in the second half for a while, but the game had already gotten away from his team.
Ankeny focused on Jeff’s leading scorer Taylor Olson, limiting him to 3-for-13 shooting in a 10-point outing, eight under his average. Olson couldn’t get to the lane for shots or drawn fouls, and when he did, Ankeny’s size affected him.
Affected all the J-Hawks, really.
“I don’t want that to take anything away from this team,” said Olson, with Saunders, a three-year starter who lost all three of his state tourney games. “But I never want to settle for just being here. Three years and not being able to win a game … We should have been able to win one.”
Here is the game boxscore and play by play: