The Blair Oaks Falcons and Jefferson City Jays battle for rebounding position on the free throw attempt by Michael Appiah-Brefo early in the first quarter of Friday night's game at Fleming Fieldhouse.

Falcons extend winning streak
to 12, outlast Jays in overtime

Feb. 8, 2019

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. --- Just like this season, this was a game of ups and downs for one team.

For the other, well ... they haven't lost this year.

You get the idea. This rollercoaster only knows one direction.

In a high-energy and highly-entertaining affair, the Blair Oaks Falcons overcame a nine-point halftime deficit to rally past the Jefferson City Jays 81-76 in overtime for their 12th straight victory Friday night at Fleming Fieldhouse.

It was the first regular-season meeting between the two, and what a treat it was.

Let's hope it's not the last.

"That was a pretty fun game, wasn't it?," Falcons coach Ryan Fick said. "There was a great atmosphere, first of all. Your casual fan who was there saw a great high school basketball game on a Friday night, what more can you ask for?"

Warmer weather.

"It was back and forth, a game of runs the whole way," Fick continued. "But I was proud of our guys, the way they responded after halftime after being down nine."

Indeed, this game had more runs than chili night at the Senior Center. Blair Oaks won the first and third quarters along with, obviously, overtime; Jefferson City won the second and fourth quarters

The Falcons (18-5, ranked No. 5 Class 3) used an 8-0 run in a 70-second burst in the opening frame on their way to a 20-19 lead after one, a quarter that ended on a highlight-reel, off-balance, running 15-foot bank-shot at the buzzer by the Jays' Brennan Jeffries.

That was the first of many highlights for the 5-11 junior, who finished a dazzling night with 30 points.

"He's a hard matchup for us," Fick said. "He's got great body control, first of all, he has a quick first step and gets to the lane, and he can finish well through contact. And he shoots the ball well enough that you have to stay within arm's length to honor the jump shot.

"In my opinion, he's definitely their motor."

Jeffries' shot to end the first quarter started a 23- 11 run to end the first half, as the Jays (10-12) outscored the Falcons by 10 in the second to take a 40-31 at the break.

Then it was time for Blair Oaks' 5-10 senior guard Trent Martin to take center stage. He scored the first five points of the second half and 11 of his team-high 23 points in the third quarter, as the Falcons outscored the Jays 22-8 to regain a 53-48 entering the fourth.

It's not a surprise, really, that Martin had a big night against the Jays. One of his uncles? Former Helias coach Josh Buffington.

"That actually crossed my mind," Fick said. "You could see his confidence grow after he hit his first shot, and that confidence continued throughout the night."

The Falcons led by seven with less than four minutes left, before Jeffries sparked a 9-2 run to finish regulation, capped by his two free throws with 35 seconds left to tie it 66-66. That's where it stayed at the end of regulation, as Eric Northweather's 12-footer at the buzzer bounced off the mark.

Then to start overtime, Dru Rackers, who tallied 20 points, scored the first six points to give Blair Oaks the lead for good.

Nolan Hair --- best known as a scintillating All-State and state champion quarterback --- only finished with four points, but he did a lot of other things to help the cause. It's what winners do. Hair had assists on two three of those Rackers' scores, and also had a key steal early in overtime.

"For three quarters --- and I think Nolan would admit this --- he was struggling a little bit," Fick said. "He came off the bench tonight and I think it took him a little while to get in the flow of the game. But as the game unfolded, you could see his competitive fire start to take over.

"He's a guy that's been in numerous competitive situations in numerous sports, so you expect that from him as a senior and one of our leaders. He really did a great job for us."

The last threat by the Jays came on a three-point play by Jeffries to cut the margin to 72-69, but the Falcons --- despite missing three of four free throws (including the front-end of two one-and-ones) down the stretch --- held on.

Northweather added 16 points for the Falcons, including a late slam in OT. For the Jays, Ben Folz scored 13 points, Ryan Brooks chipped in 11 and Michael Apiah-Brefo had 10.

As for doing this again, well ...

"It's a two-year contract," Fick said, "so it's at our place next year. So we'll at least have one more."

Here's hoping for a lot more than that.

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Chris Leuckel