Friday, March 24, 2017
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Harp plays sweet music for Eagles

The Kirkwood Eagles slapped adversity in the face again Saturday afternoon.

If you've followed the Kirkwood men's basketball team this season, you know it's nothing new.

The ninth-ranked Eagles dressed only eight players due to medical  issues and still managed to knock off DMACC, 83-63, in a key ICCAC  conference game at Johnson Hall.

Earlier this year, the Eagles had to borrow a few players from the Kirkwood baseball team when five of their own players were suspended  for two games by the NJCAA.

The Eagles are now 3-0 with a short-handed roster.

"They've been faced with a lot of different adversity during this  year," said Kirkwood Coach Bryan Petersen. "Basically our message to  the team was, 'We've done this before, so we have to find a way and  not make excuses.'

"I thought the guys did a really nice job, coming out and setting the  tone the first five minutes."

Byron Harp poured in 26 points for the Eagles and padded his stat line with six assists, five rebounds, five 3-pointers and one only turnover  in 39 minutes.


Wilson nets 20 as No. 1 Eagles roll

Kirkwood Coach Kim Muhl went on a recruiting trip to the Chicago suburbs last year to scout a player at Rich East High School who ended  up going to Monroe College in New York.

It turned out to be a fruitful trip, however, because Muhl landed a  talented point guard from Rich East instead.

Hello, Tay Tay Wilson.

Wilson made three 3-pointers tossed in 20 points Saturday to help the  top-ranked Eagles gun down the DMACC Bears, 82-57, in an ICCAC  Conference game at Johnson Hall.

"We were actually recruiting another kid from her high school," Muhl  explained. "I liked Tay. She hit shots. Point guards that can hit  shots are fun."

Wilson made it a fun day for Kirkwood as the Eagles raised their  impeccable records to 26-0 overall and 10-0 in the league with four  games left in the regular season.

Wilson, a 5-foot-6 freshman, is averaging just 6.5 points and 3.2  assists for Kirkwood, but don't be fooled by those modest numbers.  She's the floor general on a deep and balanced club where the points,  rebounds and assists are spread around.

Wilson can score 20 points and help her club win a ballgame, or she  can score no points and help her team.


Noonan sparks No. 6 Saints in regional

Xavier senior Lexi Noonan has not decided if she'll play basketball or  volleyball in college, so there was a chance Saturday night that her  athletic career was going to coming to an untimely finish after the  Saints mustered only 15 points in the first half in the Class 4A  regional semifinals against Clear Creek Amana.

"It could have been the end of my basketball career," she realized,  "but we picked it up."

Noonan poured in 19 of her game-high 21 points in the second half and  Xavier rallied for a 55-33 victory over Clear Creek Amana at Ron  Thillen Gymnasium for their ninth straight win.

The Saints (16-6) will host 13th-ranked Waverly-Shell Rock (16-6) in  the regional finals Tuesday night, with the winner advancing to the  Class 4A state tournament.

Xavier trailed 18-15 at halftime after a sluggish 16 minutes of  basketball against the visitors from the Wamac Conference, but they  notched 40 points in the second half.

"We had a shaky first half, but once we settled down in the second  half we played a lot better," said Noonan. "Coach always says our  offense feeds off our defense, so once we picked up our defense in the  second half it led to our offense and we got more scoring  opportunities."

Clear Creek Amana (13-10) took a series of five-point leads in the  third quarter at 20-15, 22-17, 24-19 and 26-21 before the Saints  finally got untracked midway through the stanza.


Saints push No. 1 Trojans without Joens

IOWA CITY - The Xavier Saints gave the top-ranked team in Class 4A a good battle Thursday night without one of their top players.

Now the Saints will try to rise to the top in Class 3A for the second straight year when the postseason tournament begins Monday.

Xavier took a 33-32 lead over Iowa City West midway through the third quarter Thursday, but the game slipped away and the Saints lost 58-46 in the final game of the regular season.

The Saints played without Jackson Joens, a talented junior who banged his head against Dubuque Wahlert Tuesday night. He thought he'd be OK  for the game against Iowa City West, but had more concussion-type symptoms Thursday and was withheld.

Joens is questionable for Monday's game against DeWitt Central in the opening round of the Class 3A district tournament.

"It's looking like he probably won't be there," said Coach Ryan  Luehrsmann. "And he may not be there the next game if we're lucky enough to get there."


3 All-Americans boost Kirkwood softball

The Kirkwood softball team begins the season Saturday with three All-Americans in its starting lineup, including the 2016 National Player of the Year with Taylor Nearad.

No wonder Coach Joe Yegge is optimistic.

Nearad enjoyed a spectacular year last season when she hit .602 with 30 home runs and 129 RBIs, nearly winning the national Triple Crown.

Maddie Hansen hit .455 with 20 homers and 93 RBIs. Morgan Frost checked in at .498 with 10 homers and 72 RBIs.

The Eagles boast an All-American in center field, an All-American behind the plate and an All-American in left field.

That's a good way to build a lineup.

"We should be able to score as well as anyone in the country," Yegge said this week.


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