Jays fall to Rock Bridge in overtime

In boys basketball

O.G. Anunoby (left) and Seth Stegeman cheer for their Jays teammates Saturday at Fleming Fieldhouse.

O.G. Anunoby (left) and Seth Stegeman cheer for their Jays teammates Saturday at Fleming Fieldhouse. Photo by Kris Wilson.

Chances are if you attend a Jefferson City Jays basketball game this season at Fleming Fieldhouse, you’re going to see at least one overtime period.

Jays coach Blair Thompson just wishes Jefferson City was on the right side of the scoreboard when the extra time ticks to an end.

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Jake White of Jefferson City drives to the basket as Rock Bridge’s Zach Carroll gets whistled for a foul late in Saturday’s game at Fleming Fieldhouse.

“We let another team get out of here with a win in overtime,” Thompson said after the Jays dropped a 73-72 decision Saturday afternoon to the Rock Bridge Bruins. “It was a winnable game.”

Saturday was the sixth overtime game for the Jays in 10 home outings this season. Jefferson City is 2-4 in those games, including a 69-68 loss Tuesday to Hickman.

“We gave ourselves a chance again, but we weren’t sharp enough in the fourth quarter,” Thompson said.

The Jays used a 21-8 scoring edge the third quarter to take a 48-38 lead into the final period. After a pair of Harold Robertson Jr. free throws with 1:45 remaining gave Jefferson City a 63-58 advantage, Rock Bridge closed regulation on a 6-1 run to send the game to overtime.

Jefferson City turned the ball over eight times in the fourth quarter.

“The tighter the game got, the tighter we got,” Thompson said.

Rock Bridge never trailed in overtime. The Bruins’ biggest lead was five, that coming at 72-67 with :23 left. A 3-pointer by Robertson at the buzzer made the final 73-72.

“I don’t think we were very sharp,” Thompson said. “But we still had a chance to win and that shows how much fight we have in us.”

Rock Bridge turned the ball over just six times in the game, while Jefferson City racked up 23.

“That’s got to be higher than it’s been in a month,” Thompson said. “I don’t think the pressure was anything spectacular, we were just careless.”

It was a back-and-forth first half. Rock Bridge scored the first five points of the contest to hold its biggest lead in the first two quarters. Jefferson City answered with five of its own to tie it and the quarter ended with Rock Bridge holding an 18-15 lead.

The two teams swapped points for much of the second quarter. A layup by Lucas Theroff gave Jefferson City a 27-26 lead with 1:15 to go before intermission. But the Bruins were able to turn a pair of Jays turnovers into points in the final :30 of the half on their way to a 30-27 advantage at the break.

The Jays took advantage of a Bruin cold shooting streak in the third quarter. Jefferson City used an 11-0 run in a span of a little more than three minutes to turn a 34-32 deficit into a 43-34 lead midway through the period. The Jays then closed the quarter with a 5-1 spurt to take that 48-38 lead into the final period.

“When you’re up like that, you have to win games and we didn’t,” Thompson said.

Rock Bridge, 2-of-3 on 3-pointers in the first half, was 1-of-9 from beyond in the arc in the third quarter and 2-of-16 in the second half.

Ryan Kreklow led three Bruins in double figures with 24 points. Jackson Dubinski added 16, while Zach Carroll finished with 14 for Rock Bridge (17-3, ranked No. 10 in Class 5).

Robertson finished with a game-high 28 points for the Jays, including five 3-pointers.

“He’s been struggling shooting a little bit, but this may give him some confidence and get him back on track,” Thompson said. “He was a guy we needed to step up and he got us some big buckets.”

Jake White totaled a double-double for the Jays, finishing with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

“He’s tough and he plays with plenty of heart,” Thompson said. “He’s relentless.”

Lucas Theroff added 12 for the Jays (13-9), who will play again Tuesday at Lebanon.

Saturday’s varsity game was the first for the Jays without junior standout O.G. Anunoby.

Anunoby, who is receiving multiple Division I offers, will miss the remainder of the season after breaking his right wrist on the final play of Tuesday’s OT loss to Hickman.

“He got tangled up in the air and went to the ground and was trying to break his fall,” Thompson said.

It is next to impossible to replace Anunoby, Jefferson City’s leading scorer (21.9) and rebounder (9.9), in the lineup.

“We don’t need a lot from everybody, we need a little from a lot of different people,” Thompson said. “That’s going to be the key for us to be successful the rest of the regular season and in districts.”

In Saturday afternoon’s junior varsity game, Jefferson City improved to 13-5 with a 49-39 victory against Rock Bridge.

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