CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- The Jefferson J-Hawks sat behind a table and patiently signed dozens of posters for their fans.
They wore brave smiles that had to have been forced, because they had just gotten stung.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy assembled a 19-0 run midway through the first half and rolled past Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 48-36, in a Mississippi Valley Conference boys' basketball game Friday night at Jefferson High School.
It was a far cry from the Cougars' upset loss to Cedar Rapids Washington shortly before the holiday break.
"When you have a team that's inexperience and not overly talented, you're going to have your ups and downs," said Kennedy Coach Bob Fontana.
Friday, undoubtedly, was an "up."
Trailing 5-4 about two minutes into the game, Kennedy (5-2 overall, 3-1 MVC) played nearly perfect basketball through much of the first half. By the time the J-Hawks (6-3, 4-2) managed to find the net again, the Cougars had run away and were off in the distance.
It was 14-5 after one quarter, then Patrick Martin, A.J. Carter and Benjamin Struss hit back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers to extend the margin to 23-5.
It swelled to 32-8 on John Bardsley's basket with 1:45 left in the half.
"We just executed on offense," said Carter, who scored all 11 of his points in the first half (he made all five of his shots before intermission). "We ran what the coaches told us to us.
"This was a big one for us."
Remarkably, the Cougars held Jefferson to three rebounds in the first half and finished with a 24-16 advantage on the glass.
Struss finished with 12 points to lead the winners. Blake Murdock tacked on 10.
Jefferson's Ky Kramer led all scorers with 16 points, 10 in the fourth quarter. Jacob Olson, the leading scorer in the MVC, managed just five.
"We ran a matchup zone. It can look like a lot of different things," Fontana said. "The big thing is, the kids executed the game plan."
Kennedy hosts Cedar Rapids Xavier on Tuesday. Jefferson hosts Waterloo East.