It was yet another crosstown showdown that came down to the final few possessions.
“We’ve been here before,” Helias coach Joe Rothweiler said of the message to the team in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s game against Jefferson City at Fleming Fieldhouse.
Jefferson City cut a seven-point fourth quarter deficit to two in the final minute after Koby Sands leaped to take away an in-bounds pass near halfcourt, leading to a layup for Sterling DeSha.
But Malcolm Davis made 3-of-4 free throws and scored off a Joe Rembecki steal down the stretch as the Crusaders held off the Jays for a 52-48 victory.
It’s the 10th straight win for Helias in the series, seven coming by single digits.
“It’s very rarely that it’s not a one- or two-possession game with Jeff City in the fourth quarter,” Rothweiler said. “We’ve been there before. Even outside of the Jeff City game we’ve had some close games that have given us some experience.”
It’s the third loss by single digits for the Jays this season.
“We can compete with anybody but we’ve got to learn to beat somebody,” Jefferson City coach Tony Phillips said.
Helias led wire to wire, as Desmond White began the game with a 3-pointer from the top of the key as part of an 11-1 run in the first four minutes of the Central Missouri Activities Conference matchup.
White added a second 3 to the run and Davis made a pair of 3s in the opening quarter to build a 19-8 lead by the end of the first quarter.
“We came out firing and had a good game plan early and we hit shots early,” Rothweiler said. “All three of those things coming together really resulted in a good first quarter.'”
The Jays slowly shrunk the margin in the second quarter with drives through the lane and defensive stops.
Kevion Pendelton got to the rim for a layup to make it 23-16. Following one of four misses from 3 in the quarter for Helias, DeSha spun his way inside for a layup to cut the deficit to 23-18 at the 2:15 mark.
“They’re never out of a game,” Phillips said. ” Just like that we’re back in it.”
Michael Onunkwor scored the final points of the first half, rolling in a layup off his left hand to make the halftime score 24-20.
Helias began the second half on an 8-2 run, getting a 3 from Drew Schmidt and a three-point play from Damon Johanns, who made all four of his shots on his way to 11 points and five rebounds.
“He’s good at sneaking behind the defense and our guys are good at finding him,” Rothweiler said. “He made a couple huge baskets down the stretch that were able to kind of give us some comfort.”
The Crusaders led 37-30 at the end of the third quarter and led by as many as seven after two White free throws made it 47-40 with :58.2 left.
White scored 17 points, making all six of his free throws, and grabbed five rebounds. Davis added 13 points.
“I thought our IQ in the fourth quarter, especially the last four minutes, was really good,” Rothweiler said.
Pendelton scored a game-high 19 points for the Jays, while DeSha added 13 points and five rebounds. Onunkwor led Jefferson City in rebounds with six.
“Kevion brings a toughness to him,” Phillips said. “When the lights come on, he shines bright. He has the ability to be a leader.”
Helias (10-2, 2-0 CMAC) will host Capital City on Thursday at Rackers Fieldhouse. The JV game will start at 6 p.m. with the varsity to follow at 7:30 p.m.
The Crusaders then play Father Tolton on Friday in Columbia.
“I told somebody it was rivalry week,” Rothweiler said. “Non-stop rivalry games. It’s a fun week.”
Jefferson City (4-10, 1-3 CMAC) will play Logan-Rogersville on Thursday to begin pool play in the Lebanon Tournament.
“They might be the most physical team we see,” Phillips said.
In Tuesday’s JV game, Jefferson City defeated Helias 43-40 in overtime.
Steven Samuels scored 17 points and Tripp Maassen added 11 for Jefferson City.
Henry Neuenswander led Helias with 15 points.
Helias won the freshman game 52-50. Landon King scored 20 points and Lain Strope had 16 for the Crusaders.
Brody Johns scored a game-high 22 points for the Jays. Imran Din-Gabisi scored 11 points.