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Eighth-ranked J-Hawks have a big gun, too

February 26, 2010

If you don't get to the Cedar Rapids Jefferson gymnasium in time to get a program, don't worry. You won't have any trouble identifying the J-Hawks' top scoring threat.

Jarrod Uthoff will be the one with the ball.

The 6-foot-6 junior center has Cedar Rapids Jefferson ranked eighth in the state coming into tonight's 7 p.m. Class 4A Substate 3 semifinal boys' basketball game against Marshalltown.

The J-Hawks (16-4) boast one of the state's top talents in Uthoff, who averages just shy of a double-double at 21.6 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. He is one of only two players in 4A to rank in the top 10 in both categories, joined by North Carolina signee Harrison Barnes of Ames.

Uthoff has visited Creighton, Northern Iowa and Iowa State and has received an offer from Division I Albany (N.Y.).

Tonight's substate semifinal between Jefferson and the Bobcats (10-12) looks to be a showdown between two big guns in Uthoff and Marshalltown senior Chanse Creekmur, but there's more to it than just a pair of 20-point-per-game scorers.

"They have a player that's just like Chanse, he's long, likes to shoot, can take the ball off the dribble, and they have great role players," MHS head coach Ron Ginapp said after Monday's 70-40 substate quarterfinal win over Newton. "They play good, solid man-to-man defense but they'll play some zone and they'll probably try to double(-team) Chanse and do some things that way."

Ginapp expects something quirky from a Jefferson defense that ranks third in 4A, having allowed only 44 points per game. It creates an interesting contrast to Marshalltown's gunslinging offense, which also is third in 4A at 67.4 points per game.

Creekmur, who ranks seventh in 4A scoring 20.7 points per game, returned from a five-game suspension just in time to score 30 points in the Bobcats' 30-point win over Newton.

"The kids sure like to play with (Creekmur) and he's a team player, he gets the ball to them for a lot of open shots that sometimes they didn't get before," Ginapp said. "He's just a fine player who loves basketball and I think a lot of people are like me - they love to watch him play."

Marshalltown's run-and-shoot offense has been equally exciting to watch this season. The Bobcats' 211 sucessful 3-pointers made lead the entire state by a margin of 30, with Creekmur (51), junior Trent Trowbridge (52) and senior Nick Thimesch (42) ranking in the top 20 individually.

"I think our team has good enough shooters on the perimeter that we can share the ball and share the scoring and I think we'll be prepared to play," Ginapp said.

The Bobcats ended a six-game losing streak with their victory in Monday's postseason opener, losing three games during that span to ranked teams. That included top-rated Ames twice and No. 5 Southeast Polk.

Cedar Rapids Jefferson, meanwhile, has suffered its roughest stretch of results recently. The J-Hawks have lost three of their last five games, including a nine-point setback at No. 2 Linn-Mar.

It would seem to be no fault of Uthoff's, however. The Jefferson junior has scored in double-digits in all but one game this season, eclipsing 20 points in 14 of 20 games with a season-high of 36. He has 12 double-doubles this winter, adding 45 blocks to his season totals.

Uthoff gets to the free-throw line an average of eight times per game and he is 128-of-160 from the charity stripe on the season. His 128 makes rank him 10th in Iowa this year, third in Class 4A.

He has scored 40.7 percent of Jefferson's points.

J-Hawk sophomore small forward Taylor Olson is the team's next best scoring threat, averaging 10.4 points per game. Shooting guard Jacob Frey, the team's only starting senior, adds 7.5 ppg. Frey is the team's top 3-point threat (18-of-67).

Aiding Marshalltown's cause is Trowbridge, the junior point guard who is putting up 14.2 points per game. He ranks third in 4A with his 87 percent free-throw shooting (minimum 20 attempts), having recently tied the MHS record for consecutive makes (24). Thimesch adds 9.3 points per game.

The winner of tonight's game will face either No. 10 Cedar Falls (15-5) or Waterloo East (9-12) in Tuesday's substate final at the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls, with a trip to the state tournament on the line.



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