Article by Jason Strickland, Jefferson City News Tribune
Jefferson City led with 25 seconds left in regulation. It was tied when the clock hit zero. The Jays were up with 25 seconds left in overtime. They were down when the clock hit zero.
Kirkwood guard Damien Loyd made the play the Pioneers needed, driving in for a layup in the final seconds of the extra period to give them a 61-60 victory against the Jays on Monday at Fleming Fieldhouse.
"We were just kind of one play away," Jefferson City coach Mark Anderson said. "They made one more play than we did. You've got to give credit to the Loyd kid because we didn't have an answer for him. We tried to use masking tape and glue to try to put something together, but he's just really good."
After Loyd's bucket, the Jays still had :02.9 left to get a shot off, but Hudson Nilges' heave from just across half-court banged off the glass.
"We thought we were going to have more time on the clock than what we had," Anderson said. "Nonetheless, that's about as good as you're going to get. That's not where we lost the game."
Jefferson City (11-11) took a 9-6 lead after a Nilges 3-pointer about five minutes into the game. Kirkwood went up 10-9 with a second-chance basket from Loyd a couple minutes later and the Jays didn't take lead again until DaMani Jarrett made two free throws in a 1-and-1 situation for a 55-54 advantage with :24.7 left in regulation.
Loyd made his free throws at the other end with :16.8 left and the Jays got an open look at a 3-pointer in front of the home bench. It bounced off the rim, but Jarrett reached up for the rebound and was fouled just before the buzzer sounded.
"A lot of players would probably just stand there and watch to see if the shot went in," Anderson said. "Give credit to him for doing that."
Jarrett made the first but the second missed to send it to overtime tied at 56.
A Brennan Jeffries layup with :25 left in OT gave the Jays a 60-59 lead. Then Loyd answered for the win.
Loyd scored a game-high 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting. He also made 7-of-9 at the free-throw line.
"I was not very pleased with how we came out on him," Anderson said. "We gave him open looks and we let him drive. He's the best player on the floor and we didn't do a very good job at recognizing that."
A combination of Kirkwood's rebounding and the Jays' missed 3s helped the Pioneers lead 28-24 at the break.
Jaylen Phipps got a second-chance basket for the final points of the first half.
The Jays' first four made baskets were from beyond the arc, but they finished 5-of-14 from deep in the first half.
Jarrett became more of a threat in the second half as he scored 10 of his 12 points after halftime. He also had 11 of Jefferson City's 24 rebounds.
"When we did (give it to Jarrett), Kirkwood didn't have much of an answer for him," Anderson said. "Why we won't do that in the first half? We just shot 3 after 3 after 3. Some of them fell but we've got to be smarter."
Nilges, a 3-point shooter for the Jays, mixed in drives to the hoop in the second half.
His layup in the first three minutes of the third quarter got the Jays within 33-31. He tied the game at 48 with 3:33 left in regulation by going hard toward the basket before pulling up for a short jumper. Nilges scored a team-high 18 points, making four 3s and all three of his two-point attempts.
"We talked to him about being more than just a 3-point shooter," Anderson said. "He got to the rim a couple times and found other ways to score."
Jeffries added 15 points, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers and shooting a combined 6-of-8 from inside the arc and at the free-throw line.
Jefferson City will try to end the regular season above .500 when it hosts Rockhurst on Friday.
Kirkwood won Monday's JV game 54-50. Kaidyn Johnson led the Jays with 14 points and Sterling DeSha had 13.