Jefferson City boys basketball coach Blair Thompson thought one word summed up the Jays' win on Friday night.
"I think in a word - guts," Thompson said after Jefferson City posted an 84-77 victory against St. Louis University High in double overtime at Fleming Fieldhouse. "Before we came out, we talked about how this game was going to be as much of a dogfight as much as it was going to be a basketball game."
Lucas Theroff hit a pair of free throws to give Jefferson City a 83-77 lead with 34.2 seconds left in the second overtime, and the 6-foot-2 senior stole a pass on the Junior Bills' next possession to secure the Jays' eighth win in the last 10 games.
After struggling from the charity stripe in an overtime loss to Waynesville last week, the Jays finished 7-of-8 from the line to put away the Junior Bills in the second extra period.
"I think our players are very capable free-throw shooters," Thompson said. "I trust them to make them; they trust each other."
O.G. Anunoby scored a game-high 29 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to lead Jefferson City, which was 28-of-47 from the field and 8-of-15 from behind the arc. Jake White finished with 19 points, Theroff added 13 and Harold Robertson Jr. chipped in with 12 to help pace the Jays.
"I couldn't be prouder of the whole basketball team," Thompson said. "Everybody played their role solid tonight and we get the result that we got when we do that. That's a really good win against a very good basketball team."
The Junior Bills made that known early after going 9-of-11 from the field, including 5-of-6 from the 3-point line, in the first quarter to take an early lead.
Jefferson City trailed by as many as 10 with 6:30 left in the second quarter, but Anunoby scored nine points over the next five minutes as an 11-4 run brought the Jays within two.
Anunoby then tied the contest at 36 on a put-back dunk before the Bills could escape the second period with a 39-38 advantage.
It didn't last long.
Anunoby gave Jefferson City its first lead of the night with 6:19 left in the third quarter and then hit a 3-pointer to give the Jays a 56-47 lead with 1:57 left in the third.
"We didn't have our throttle all the way to the floor early," Thompson said. "As the game went on, we started putting some stops together, followed by some good possessions and that turned into a run. Energy-wise it did a lot for us and I think it continued and continued."
Jefferson City took a 58-49 lead into the fourth quarter, but SLUH hit three 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the frame to tie the game at 63 with 2:40 left in regulation.
Trailing by three with 23 seconds left, SLUH missed its first look at a 3-pointer, but the Junior Bills got the offensive board and Austin Sottile knocked down the game-tying trey with 4.2 second remaining to send the game to the first overtime session.
The Jays had another two-point lead with 18.8 seconds left in that first overtime, but SLUH got a quick layup on the other end to send it to double OT.
Jefferson City controlled the tempo from there.
"We had to bring it physically and we had to be as sharp as we could on both ends," Thompson said. "They're a very solid basketball team, they have all the parts that make up a good team. We had to be solid and we had to play harder than they did.
"I think we played extremely hard and I love that about this basketball team."
Matt Nester scored 22 points, while David Schmelter added 17 and Sottile chipped in with 16 to lead SLUH, which was 25-of-55 from the field and 11-of-24 from beyond the arc.
Jefferson City will return to action Tuesday when it hosts Rock Bridge at 7:30 p.m.
The Jefferson City JV team suffered a 36-33 loss to SLUH in the opener on Friday night. Caleb Burruss paced the Jays with nine points.