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Jeffers beats Westwood, wins 1st district title in 9 years

The Jeffers High School boys basketball team celebrates after winning the Division 3 District 65 championship against Westwood on Saturday. (David Archambeau/For the Gazette)

PAINESDALE — The Jeffers Jets boys’ basketball team not only extended their winning streak to 16 games but earned a MHSSA Division 3 District 65 tile for the first time in nine years.

They defeated the Westwood Patriots 63-56 in front of a lively hometown crowd Saturday.

“We were up and down for a while, but when we were able to settle down, we were able to put the pressure on Westwood’,” said Jeffers head coach John Schutz. “As well, I am especially proud of our defense. That’s what got us through this.”

The game came out of the gates as an old-fashioned shoot out. Jeffers took the lead first and kept it for the remainder of the game. They would hit a three and Westwood would counter with a offensive rebound off the glass and vice versa. It was Jeffers up 20-14 after eight minutes.

The Jets picked up their inside game in the second with a number of backdoor plays to their ‘big man’ 6-foot-4 Christian Hocking. He led the scoring for the Jets with 20 points and an impressive 7 of 8 from the free-throw line.

While the Patriots came within two points of the Jets with a 33-31 score with just under two minutes to go before half, it wouldn’t be enough. The Jets had the hot hand with sharp shooter Johnny Schutz on fire to take the score 38-31 at the midway point. Schutz finished with 19 points.

This game was far from over.

“Our team leaders led the halftime talk,” explained Westwood’s head coach Luke Gray. “We were relaxed and needed to keep doing what we were doing.”

A seven-point lead turned into a 10 point lead for the Jets after three. Both teams went cold as the Jets only sunk eight points and the Patriots just five.

Westwood came back and made a game of it in the last few minutes of the contest. They trimmed an eight-point lead to a three point lead of 59-56 with just a minute to go. The Jets then worked the clock down and were fouled by Westwood. Jeffers sealed the win with impeccable free-throw shooting.

The Jets Kyle Mattila was the team’s third player to score in double figures with 12 and according to his coach was strong in the defensive end of the court as well.

Kyle really stood our for me tonight,” noted Schutz. “He played excellent defense, rebounded well and had some great layups.”

For the Patriots, Zachary Carlson led the scoring with 27 points and four triples. Zachary Beckman followed with 15.

The Jets move on to face Iron Mountain on Tuesday in regional play.

“I’m not even there yet,” said Schutz. “We’ll get to work on Sunday and Monday and see where we’re at.”

WHS 14 17 5 20 — 56

JHS 20 18 8 17 — 63

Westwood: (56) Annala 5, Carlson 27, Sundberg 9, Beckman 15. 3-point FG: Carlson 4, Sundberg 3, Beckman 2. FT: 7-9. F: 17.

Jeffers: (63) L. Frahm 9, L. Heinonen 1, Kunishige 2, J. Schutz 19, Mattila 12, Hocking 20. 3-point FG: L. Frahm 2, J. Schutz 2, Hocking 1. FT: 18-23. F: 13.

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