Playing uphill almost the whole way against North Andrew in the Platte Valley Conference title game, the Jefferson boys kept battling and gave themselves a shot at the end of the fourth quarter to tie or win the game.
In frustrating fashion, their comeback bid ended there.
With 4.7 seconds left, Jefferson got the ball into the hands of the player it wanted to have it—senior point guard Zach Jermain. His momentum taking him toward the goal, he tried to drive base line and floated up a shot over North Andrew's Jeremiah Libich that hit off the side of the backboard.
Jefferson head coach Tim Jermain protested that there was contact on the play, but no foul was called.
North Andrew gathered the rebound, and Nate Atkins made two free throws with 0.3 seconds left to ensure a 40-36 win over Jefferson Friday at Bearcat Arena.
Jefferson fell to 2-2, losing for the second straight year in the PVC title game to North Andrew.
"I thought we did a great job of putting ourselves in a position, and if we put ourselves in a position to make a play that's what we want," said Tim Jermain. "It was probably a good call there at the end. There might have been a little contact, but he was probably in a pretty good defensive position there."
The last shot was about the only blemish of Zach Jermain's second half.
He put Jefferson on his back in the fourth quarter, scoring seven of his game-high 22 points to pull the Eagles as close as one point.
It was his fourth double-digit scoring game of the year.
"He spends a lot of time in the gym," said Tim Jermain. "That's helped him. He's gotten stronger. He made the commitment over the summer to really workout and try to get stronger. That's probably been the thing that's really hurt him in the past is he gets bumped and he really struggles with that."
Much of scoring burden was placed on Jermain's shoulders with the rest of the Eagles combining for only 14 points. Of that group, no one had more than four, including returning starters Blake Meyer and Jordan McCrary.
North Andrew had better balance with Libich scoring 15 points, Quayde Bauman with 13 and Atkins with eight.
Libich, a 6-4 forward, punished smaller Jefferson inside in the first half, scoring 11 points. The Eagles did a better job on him in the second half.
"It's a challenge and we've known that for a long time," said Tim Jermain. "We have to stay in great position. If we get ourselves in bad position where we're battling them physically, we're going to be in trouble."
Page 2 of 2 - Jefferson held only one lead in the game at 2-0 and spent the rest of the night playing catch-up.
In the third quarter, the Eagles pulled within a point, but went to the fourth trailing 32-26.
The deficit reached as many as eight points on a steal and score by Bauman in the fourth quarter.
Down six with 2:45 left, a floater by Jermain and a Jermain three pulled the Eagles within one with 30.9 seconds to go.
North Andrew ran off 19 seconds before the Eagles committed a foul with 11.6 to play.
Atkins made the front end of a one-and-one to put the Cardinals up one, but missed the second, keeping it a two-point game. Jefferson called timeout with 4.7 seconds left to set up for the final shot which never got to the rim.
"The big thing I told them is what a great early season game to get to work on late-game situations and have to execute down the stretch," said Tim Jermain. "We are pretty inexperienced and we got some young kids coming off the bench. If we can experience those situations, it's going to help us later."
Two of last year's PVC tri-champions, Jefferson and North Andrew play each other against Jan. 15 in Conception Junction.
South Nodaway 46 Stewartsville 39 (3rd Place Game)
The Longhorns used a strong first and fourth quarter to defeat Stewartsville 46-39 in the third place game of the PVC Tournament Friday at Bearcat Arena.
South Nodaway finished the opening quarter ahead 12-5 and maintained a seven-point lead going into the half before Stewartsville pulled within three at the end of the third quarter.
The Longhorns stepped it up on defense in the fourth, holding Stewartsville to only six points and put the game away.
South Nodaway's Dakota Murphy led all scorers with 16 points. Damien Wilmore notched 10 points. Silas Nielson added eight.
Justin Burris topped Stewartsville with 13 points. Leading scorer Dominick Fleeks was held to seven points.
DeKalb 60 Northeast Nodaway 46 (Consolation Game)
The Tigers dominated the first and third quarters, outscoring Northeast Nodaway by 23 points, to forge a 60-46 win in the fifth place game Friday in Stewartsville.
NEN faced deficits of 13 at the half and 25 going to the fourth. The Jays outscored DeKalb 20-9 in the final period to make the final margin much closer.
DeKalb's Timmy LeRoy supplied over half of the team's total with 32 points.
NEN was led by Kevin Stoll with 14 points and Joel Scroggie with 13. Aaron Patton added nine points.