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Wossman boys hold off Iowa, 70-65, to claim Division II non-select championship

Wildcats claim their fourth state championship in program history

LAKE CHARLES, LOUISIANA - Wossman coach Casey Jones has been at Wossman High School for nine seasons. 

He’s led the Wildcats to nine trips to the Boys' Top 28 Basketball Tournament, including five trips to the state finals. The Wildcats were on the big stage again, but this time, they put the past behind them and finished the job.

The No. 2 seeded Wildcats won the Division II non-select state championship in 70-65 victory against top-seeded Iowa Friday night at The Burton Complex.

This is Wossman's fourth state title in school history. Jones won his second state title as a head coach. This title is special for him because he’s an alum of Wossman. 

Jones' other state title came in 2009 when he was coaching at Ouachita High School.

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“It feels great, but I want it more for these guys. I just wanted my guys to experience that feeling I had at Ouachita in 2009,” said Jones. “There’s nothing like that feeling winning the championship.

"These guys are model students that’s going to play ball on the next level. They are great character kids and the best group of kids I ever coached.”

Wossman (34-4) took control in the third quarter as Zion Weeks scored a driving layup. Then, Jordan Comanche knocked down a jumper to give the Wildcats a 34-28 lead.

Iowa (29-5) bounced back as Desa’monte Gradney scored consecutive baskets, cutting the lead to three, 35-32. The Wildcats answered with a driving layup by Comanche, extending the lead to 37-32; then, they knocked down a pair of 3-pointers by Krystian Lewis and Antron Mason Jr. to make it 47-41. 

The Wildcats continued to apply pressure with a jumper by Mason for an eight-point advantage. DeShawn Ceaser got Iowa back in gear with a pair of layups and a jumper, cutting the lead to two, 52-50.

Then, Wossman went on a big 8-0 run as Lewis knocked down consecutive 3-pointers.

Comanche added on with a driving layup, extending the lead to 60-50 with under two minutes left.

Iowa didn’t go away that easy as Ceaser and Cameron Washington knocked down a pair of 3's. Then, Gradney added a couple of driving layups.

Josiah Bushnell stepped up for the Yellow Jackets with a layup, cutting the lead to two, 67-65, with 30 seconds remaining.

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Wossman came up big by knocking down 11-of-14 free throws in the fourth quarter, including making 6-of-8 free throws in the last minute of the game. They shot 77 percent (21-of-27) from the foul line.

The game was back and forth throughout Wossman took a 19-17 lead on consecutive layups from Comanche. Cohen Charles stepped up for the Yellow Jackets with a pair of layups, cutting the lead to one, 27-26.

But the Wildcats answered with a 3-pointer by Mason, extending the lead to four, 30-26, at the half.

Wossman had four players in double figures. Lewis was the Most Outstanding Player with 25 points, eight rebounds, and four steals. Comanche finished with 19 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Wossman's Krystian Lewis (from left), coach Casey Jones and Jordan Comanche after the Wildcats claimed the Division II non-select title on March 8, 2024.

Wossman's Krystian Lewis (from left), coach Casey Jones and Jordan Comanche after the Wildcats claimed the Division II non-select title on March 8, 2024.

Also for the Wildcats, Mason scored 16 points and four steals. Weeks scored 10 points, five rebounds and four assists.

Iowa had two players scoring in double figures. Gradney led the Yellow Jackets with 22 points, six rebounds and three assists, and Ceaser finished with 20 points, four rebounds and two assists.

Iowa coach Rob Melanson coached his last game as a head coach. He retires after 32 years of coaching.

He coached three programs (Lacassine, Comeaux, Iowa) and led all three programs to the Top 28 Tournament.

“It was really an enjoyable season. This is my last season and my last ball game. It hurts that I’m not going to be coaching these kids,” said Melanson. “The whole team have given me everything.

"I got to take better care of myself. My health is not great. If I can’t shoot a basketball, I’m cheating them.”

-- Vashon Jones | @SBLiveLA