By Jim Ecker
If you stop Jarrod Uthoff, you stop the J-Hawks.
That’s exactly what Washington did Friday night.
The 10th-ranked Warriors held the state’s leading scorer without a field goal in the final 14 minutes of the game and tripped No.3 Jefferson, 49-41, before a packed gym at Washington.
Uthoff, a 6-foot-8 senior who has signed with Wisconsin, began the game with a gaudy 31.8 average, albeit against less than robust competition. The Warriors held him to 17 points in the game and to just two points in the fourth quarter, both on free throws.
Washington (4-1, 3-0) sagged all over Uthoff with double-teams and triple-teams. He shot 5-for-13 from the field and made his last field goal with about 6 minutes left in the third quarter.
“Uthoff is a great player,” said Washington senior Josh Oglesby. “We practiced Wednesday and Thursday, just double-teaming him and fronting him and getting behind him, because they like to throw it up to him. I mean, he’s 6-foot-9. We just made it hard on him.”
Whenever Uthoff touched the ball, the Warriors collapsed all over him. One guy in front, one behind, one on the side.
“It was pretty tough to try and get shots off,” Uthoff said. “Last year I saw that quite a bit, but this year it’s the first time I’ve really been double- and triple-teamed like that.”
Jefferson was not able to take advantage of all the extra attention paid Uthoff. Taylor Olson scored 12 points, but nobody else scored more than five points for the J-Hawks.
Jefferson did an effective job of guarding Washington’s dynamic duo of Oglesby and Wes Washpun, using a triangle-and-two much of the night to limit their looks. Oglesby scored 14 points and Washpun netted 12, well below their averages, but the Warriors had a secret weapon.
His name is Cybryan Moa, and he stole show.
Moa took advantage of the gaps in Jefferson’s defense and drilled five 3-pointers, including four in the first half to help the Warriors grab a 27-20 lead at intermission. Ironically, he hadn’t made a 3-pointer all year and was 0-for-9 from long distance in Wash’s first four games. He was 5-for-6 Friday night.
“Coach told me I had to step it up and have a big night,” said Moa, a 6-foot-1 junior. “We knew they were going to key on Josh and Wes, so I tried to do what I had to do.”
He did exactly what Coach Brad Metzger told him to do.
“In these big games, everybody is going to key on these ‘names’ that everyone is talking about,” Metzger said. “The team that’s probably going to win is going to have somebody step up and hit big shots in a big-time atmosphere. That’s what Cybryan did, and he’s hands-down the player of this game.”
Uthoff scored the first six points of the second half to pull the J-Hawks within 27-26, but Moa answered with his fifth and final triple of the night. Uthoff gave Jefferson a 33-32 lead with two free throws, and it see-sawed for a while.
Ky Kramer gave the J-Hawks their final lead at 37-35 with a field goal, but Washington took control. Oglesby hit a 3-pointer, Washpun made four straight free throws, Oglesby hit a jumper and a layup to complete an 11-0 spurt and give the Warriors a commanding 46-37 lead with 1:18 remaining.
At that point, Jefferson had only four points in the entire fourth quarter. Washington’s defense was too tough.
Uthoff scored a school-record 44 points last Saturday against Marion and notched 40 this past Tuesday against Dubuque Hempstead, but he had a frustrating night at Washington.
“I didn’t think we did the greatest job of getting him the ball, and then when we did it was very physical in there,” Jefferson Coach Stu Ordman said.
Jefferson (5-1, 2-1) whipped its first five opponents by an average score of 70 to 37, but the cakewalks ended Friday.
“I’m sure this is a wakeup call to what level we have to play at,” Ordman remarked.
Uthoff finished with 16 rebounds. Oglesby grabbed nine boards for Jefferson. Washpun collected four steals, three assists and three blocked shots, including one crowd-pleasing block against the much taller Uthoff.
JEFFERSON (41): Rooney 0 0-0 0, Meiborg 1 0-1 2, Kramer 2-4 0-0 5, Olson 5 1-2 12, Larson 0 0-2 0, Saunders 1 2-3 5, Uthoff 5 6-8 17. Totals 14 9-16 41.
WASHINGTON (49): Carr 0 0-0 0, Washpun 3 6-9 12, Moa 5 1-2 16, Oglesby 4 4-4 14, Clark 0 0-0 0, Bredl 2 1-3 5, McCauley 1 0-1 2. Totals 15 12-19 49.
Halftime — Washington 27, Jefferson 20. 3-point goals — Jefferson 4 (Kramer 1, Olson 1, Saunders 1, Uthoff 1), Washington 7 (Moa 5, Oglesby 2). Fouled out — Kramer, Saunders.