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Wednesday, March 20, 2019
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Metro Sports Report

No. 2 Eagles roll in regional opener

The ultimate goal for the Kirkwood men's basketball team is to win seven straight playoff games this month and claim their second national title in seven years.

It's serious business, but it helps to laugh along the way.

The second-ranked Eagles had a chance to relax and enjoy themselves in the regional opener Wednesday night with an easy 106-52 victory over Southwestern at Johnson Hall.

Kirkwood (25-4) will host DMACC (22-9) in the regional semifinals Thursday at 7 p.m.

The Eagles had a lot of fun in the final minutes Wednesday night, especially when Griffen Clark hit a 3-pointer to put them over the century mark and then when he intentionally passed the ball off the backboard to Niko Gosnell for a dunk that brought everyone to their feet.

"There's no question it helps to have a game like that and everybody gets to contribute and everybody gets to share some fun on the court," said Coach Bryan Petersen. "I think it goes a long way with team chemistry and team morale."

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Mustangs' season ended by Graceland

They may not be as talented as last year's NAIA national champions, but the Graceland Yellowjackets showed some championship-caliber play on Tuesday night.

Unfortunately for the Mount Mercy men's basketball team, that meant an end to their season.

Senior Mo Jackson scored 25 points to lead six players in double figures, including a key 4-point play to stymie a Mustang rally with 5:13 remaining, as Graceland avenged two regular-season losses with a 94-84 win in the opening round of the Heart of America Conference Tournament at the Hennessey Rec Center.

No. 9 seed Graceland (16-14) advances to the quarterfinals on Thursday night against No. 1 seed and top-ranked Benedictine (28-2). Mount Mercy, the eighth seed, closes its season at 16-15.

The visitors led 45-42 at halftime as both teams played spirited basketball in the first 20 minutes. Mount Mercy came out aggressively to start the second half, grabbing several offensive rebounds but were unable to finish.

"I thought we got to the basket," said Mustang Coach Aaron Jennings. "We drew up a couple plays. We executed, guys created, got some good looks but nothing dropped. I think we missed our first three or four layups and our first couple free throws and they took advantage."

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KCC men earn No. 1 seed for regional

IOWA FALLS - The Kirkwood men's basketball team picked up two nice prizes in Iowa Falls Saturday afternoon.

The fifth-ranked Eagles crushed Ellsworth, 89-59, in the final game of the regular season to grab a share of the ICCAC conference title and earn the No. 1 seed for the regional tournament.

Kirkwood began the week in second place in the league standings behind NIACC, but NIACC lost to DMACC in its final game of the season to give the Eagles a chance to tie for the title.

Kirkwood and NIACC tied for the championship with 12-2 league records, but the Eagles won the tiebreaker based on power ratings.

Bryan Petersen collected his 150th victory as the head coach at Kirkwood on Saturday. He has a 150-38 record at his alma mater.

The Eagles (24-4) will host No. 8 seed Southwestern (3-26) in the quarterfinals of the regional tournament Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Johnson Hall. If Kirkwood keeps winning, it will host the semifinals on Thursday and the regional championship game on Saturday.

Kirkwood was the No. 1 seed for the regional tournament last year, but fell short and failed to reach the national tournament. "Hopefully we can take advantage of that this year," said Petersen. "Last year we didn't."

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KCC women share conference title

IOWA FALLS - The Kirkwood women's basketball team finished in a tie for the ICCAC conference title on Saturday, but the Eagles had to settle for the No. 2 seed in the regional tournament next week.

The fourth-ranked Eagles topped Ellsworth, 87-61, in the final game of the regular season.

Kirkwood and NIACC finished with identical 15-1 records in the conference and traded six-point wins, but NIACC won the tiebreaker on its overall point differential against the other teams in the league.

NIACC outscored conference opponents by 458 points and Kirkwood outscored them by 397, giving NIACC the tiebreaker by 61 points.

Kirkwood (25-6) will host No. 7 seed Southwestern (11-17) in the opening round of the regional tournament Wednesday night. The Eagles whipped Southwestern by 43 and 48 points in their two meetings.

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Mount Mercy hosts Heart opener

There's good news and not-so-good news for the Mount Mercy men's basketball team in the Heart of America Conference tournament.

Here's the good news: The Mustangs drew the No. 8 seed and will host No. 9 Graceland in the opening round Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Hennessey Recreation Center.

Here's the not-so-good news: If the Mustangs defeat Graceland, they'll face top-ranked Benedictine in Atchison, Kan., in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Benedictine finished a perfect 24-0 in the conference this year and is 14-0 at home.

Mount Mercy finished in a four-way tie for seventh place in the Heart of America Conference with an 11-13 record with Culver-Stockton, Graceland and MidAmerica Nazarene. All four teams made the 10-team playoffs and are seeded No. 7, No. 8, No. 9 and No. 10 on tiebreakers.

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