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Friday, February 24, 2017
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Metro Sports Report

Confident Saints knock off Prairie


It took the Xavier Saints about two months to develop a new identity  this season and get on a roll.

Now they hope it will carry them all the way to the Class 3A state  tournament again.

The resurgent Saints marched to the foul line and topped Cedar Rapids  Prairie, 60-56, in an intense Mississippi Valley Conference game at  Ron Thillen Gymnasium.

The Saints have a modest 7-9 overall record at this point in the  season, but they've won three straight games and have looked good in  back-to-back wins over Cedar Falls and Prairie.

"We weren't playing well at the start of the year. To get a couple of  wins here is great for us," said Jackson Joens, a veteran of last  year's state champions. "We're just hoping to make another run down to  Des Moines."

Xavier won the spirited game at the foul line, outscoring the visitors  22-3 at the charity stripe. The Saints shot 19 free throws in the  second half and Prairie did not shoot any, a stat that did not escape  the attention of the Hawks.

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Gerke earns 150th win for Saints

If somebody asked Josh Gerke to run through a brick wall, his only question would be "Head first or feet first?"

Xavier wrestling coach Ryan Chambers was exaggerating when he made  that comment Thursday night, but not by much.

Gerke reached a major milestone Thursday when he collected the 150th  victory of his stellar career with a pair of wins against Waterloo  East and Waterloo West in a double-dual at Ron Thillen gymnasium.

Fittingly, the 150th victory came on a pin in 87 seconds against Joventay Burris of Waterloo West at 145 pounds. It was the 98th pin of  Gerke's career, extending his own school record and giving him a shot  at reaching the century mark before the year ends.

Xavier students came prepared with signs that said "150," and there also were big yellow balloons with the numbers 1-5-0 in his honor.

"It's pretty exciting. A lot of hard work and teammates pushing me,"  said Gerke. "The coaches have spent a lot of time with me. It's a big  milestone for all of us."

Gerke got a standing ovation after his 150th verdict.

"I had a big cheering section. A lot of my friends," he said. "It was  pretty exciting to be able to get a pin like that."

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Xavier athletes sign on the dotted line

Seven Xavier High School athletes were honored in a ceremony at the school Wednesday afternoon as they finalized their plans to play  sports in college next year.

Four members of the Xavier football team that reached the semifinals of the Class 3A playoffs have picked their college so far.

Bryce Schulte will attend the University of Iowa, Maliki Wilson is headed to Wayne State in Nebraska, Max Johnson has picked Drake and Zach Barish will play at Saint Ambrose.

Three female student-athletes at Xavier also were honored Wednesday. Jess Callahan plans to play volleyball at Luther College, Hannah Helms will play softball at Coe and Addy Hoffman will play soccer at Truman State.

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Like old times: Saints whip Tigers

The Xavier Saints dug a little deeper Tuesday night and played  basketball like they did in the Class 3A state tournament last year.

As far as the Saints are concerned, it was about time.

The Saints played their best game of the season and whipped Cedar  Falls, 70-60, in a spirited Mississippi Valley Conference contest in the Ron Thillen Gymnasium.

Max Techau was a beast for Xavier (6-9) with 22 points and 13  rebounds, but he was not alone as the Saints got important  contributions from lots of players against a quality opponent.

Matt Mims matched Techau with 22 points and ran the club superbly with  seven assists, Jackson Joens popped in 13 points, new starter Quinn  Schulte contributed seven points and helped "slow" Cedar Falls star AJ Green, and Nolan Butkowski nailed a pair of clutch 3-pointers.

The Saints also got some help from Gabe Lux, Max Johnson and Bryce  Schulte off the bench, even though they did not score.

Green, a superb 6-foot-3 junior who leads the Mississippi Valley  conference in scoring, finished with 33 points, but the Saints got  some key stops against him when it really mattered in the fourth  quarter, and the rest of the Tigers combined for only 27 points.

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King sparks No. 17 Eagles by Tritons

The five members of the Kirkwood men's basketball team who had to  serve a two-game suspension for a minor infraction earlier this month  were anxious to get rolling again Saturday.

It took 20 minutes to get fully in gear, but the 17th-ranked Eagles  eased their pain by whipping Iowa Central, 101-72, in a conference  game at Johnson Hall.

Chris King, Byron Harp, Miles Wentzien, Ethan Meeker and Elijah Henry  were suspended by the National Junior College Athletic Association for  two games for their roles in an incident against Ellsworth 10 days  ago, but they were back Saturday.

King popped in six 3-pointers, scored 26 points and dished out seven  assists as Kirkwood raised its record to 16-4 overall.

The Eagles led by only one point at halftime, 44-43, but they clamped  down on defense in the second half and quickly pulled away. Kirkwood  shot 66.7 percent from the field in the second half and clobbered Iowa  Central in bench points for the game, 41-2.

The Eagles had trouble guarding Tray Croft and Prince Moss in the  first half, but the second half was an entirely different story. Croft  and Moss combined to score 56 of the visitor's 72 points, but most of  that damage occurred in the first half.

King said the difference in the second half was simple.

"Just guarding the ball with passion," he said. "The first half he  (Croft) was scoring because everybody wasn't buying in and trying to  help each other out. But the second half we really got back to what we  usually do."

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