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Wednesday, January 18, 2017
UPDATE: Tonight's Waterloo East at Xavier girls basketball game has been postponed...
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor
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Metro Sports Report

New lineup sparks Kirkwood men

It's mid-December and the Kirkwood Eagles have already played 12  games, but Coach Bryan Petersen is still juggling his lineup and searching for the right formula that will give them a shot at another national crown.

He may have found a few answers Wednesday night.

Kirkwood started a new four-guard lineup against John Wood Community College and posted a comfortable 84-64 victory in a non-conference game at Johnson Hall.

Petersen has tinkered with the lineup much of the season in search of the right starting lineup and the right combination of subs.

"Day-by-day, we're still looking for a lot of answers from our group,"  he said. "You never have it completely figured out. Everybody says by January you should know your team, hopefully.

"It's not January yet, but at the same time I thought we'd probably be  a little further along than we are right now."

Petersen has a lot of talented players to choose from, including six guys who helped the Eagles capture the NJCAA Division II title last March and a talented group of newcomers.

Talent is not the issue, but chemistry and team cohesion are still a work in progress. The Eagles have a respectable 9-3 record, but they are no longer ranked No. 1 in the country and they lost to Black Hawk  College last week after drilling them by 44 points earlier in the year.

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Xavier girls dump Waterloo West

If you watch the Xavier girls basketball team play a few games in a  row, you realize the Saints play really good defense.

They did it again Tuesday night.

The Saints pestered Waterloo West with their long arms and quick feet and topped the Wahawks, 49-29, in a Mississippi Valley Conference game  at Ron Thillen Gymnasium.

Waterloo West (3-3) averaged 56.8 points in its first five games and  star guard Aliyah Robinson was getting 18.8 per contest, but the  Saints followed their defensive game plan to perfection.

Xavier prevented Robinson from driving to the basket and gave the visitors very few second-chance opportunities.

"We play a lot of help defense, especially at practice, and helping the helper," explained senior Lexi Noonan, who led the Saints with 13  points and was a force on defense. "We all help each other out and  make sure everyone is covered and we don't leave their best player  open."

Na'Tracia Ceasar, who was averaging 16.8 points, collected only seven points against the stingy Saints, who had a good scouting report on the visitors from Waterloo.

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Ferrari, Mayhew, Christner join softball league

Three more players with outstanding credentials have joined the new Iowa Women's Softball League for the 2017 campaign.

Lexi Ferrari of Kirkwood, DoniRae Mayhew of Kirkwood and Morgan  Christner of Illinois State are the latest players to enroll, becoming  the 22nd, 23rd and 24th players in the program.

Ferrari, a middle infielder, hit .398 with 50 RBIs for Kirkwood last  season as a freshman and helped the Eagles reach the national  tournament. She earned all-state honors during her prep career at Alleman Catholic High School in Rock Island, Ill.

Mayhew, a pitcher and corner infielder, received all-state honors  during all five of her years at Bettendorf High School. She finished her prep career this past summer with 59 home runs, which ranks No. 3  all-time in Iowa, and is now a freshman at Kirkwood.

(CLICK HERE TO REGISTER)

Christner, a pitcher, was a four time all-state selection at New  London High School and made the all-tournament  team at the state  tournament in 2013 and 2015. She led the state with a 405 strikeouts  in 2015 and is currently a freshman at Illinois State.

The Iowa Women's Softball League has been formed by the Metro Sports Report to give college players an opportunity to play in a competitive summer league and is the only program of its kind in Iowa.

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Xavier girls tame No. 11 Lions

If you need any help with the girls basketball rankings, just ask Xavier Coach Tom Lilly for some advice.

Lilly and the Saints have faced a string of premier Class 5A teams in the first few weeks of the season and now have an impressive victory to show for their efforts.

Xavier knocked off Linn-Mar, 42-37, Friday night in the Linn-Mar gym in a battle of Mississippi Valley Conference teams that does not count in the league standings.

The Saints put up a good fight against No. 3 Cedar Falls, No. 5 Iowa City West and No. 6 Johnston in narrow defeats before breaking through against No. 11 Linn-Mar with a strong defensive performance.

"We've been kind of poking the bear a little bit the last few games against really fine competition," said Lilly. "We finally had an opportunity where we could continue to play aggressively and it paid off."

Freshman point guard Caitlynn Daniels hit three driving layups through traffic in the last three minutes to help the Saints square their record at 3-3. Daniels hit shots that made it 34-31, 36-31 and 40-34 to keep the Lions (4-2) at bay.

Xavier is a Class 4A outfit that competes against 5A clubs on a regular basis in the MVC. It's made them strong in the past and it could be happening again this season.

Lilly is trying to mold a new team around a handful of veterans and some inexperienced players.

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Xavier boys fall short at Linn-Mar

The Xavier Saints have miles to go before they can dream about winning the Class 3A basketball title again this season.

The good news? It's still early.

The Saints struggled in the second half Friday night and lost to Linn-Mar, 55-47, in a Mississippi Valley Conference game in the Linn-Mar gym.

Xavier scored only 18 points in the second half and did not get a single point from any of its reserves while falling to 1-2 for the season. The Saints were a polished outfit last March when they claimed the first state title in school history, but this is a new year and a new team.

"I try to tell everybody it's a different year and a work in progress," said Coach Ryan Luehrsmann. "We've got a lot of nice pieces that are back, but it's tough.

"It's tough when the expectations are different. People look at you a little differently, right or wrong. I think we've struggled with it a little bit.

"The good thing is," said Luehrsmann, "it's only three games in."

Xavier's other loss was to Waverly-Shell Rock, the top-ranked team in 3A, by 22 points in Waverly.

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