Wednesday, May 25, 2016
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

No. 6 Eagles earn trip to JUCO nationals

Kirkwood guard Hunter Rhodes was covered in blue body-paint Saturday afternoon and loving every single messy smear on his jersey, arms and hands.

It happened after Kirkwood students, some of whom painted G-O E-A-G-L-E-S on their bare chests, rushed the court after Kirkwood beat Iowa Lakes in the regional finals and hugged as many players as they could.

"I'm bleeding blue now, I guess," Rhodes said happily.

Rhodes was named the MVP of the regional tournament after the sixth-ranked Eagles dumped the 18th-ranked Lakers, 80-64, to win the regional title and earn a spot in the NJCAA Division II national tournament for the first time since 2011.

The national tournament will be held in Danville, Ill., from March 15-19.


Cold Lions fall to No. 1 Johnston

DES MOINES - It's hard to beat a high school basketball team that has six future NCAA Division I or Division II athletes on its roster.

That's what the Linn-Mar Lions faced in the semifinals of the Class 5A girls state basketball tournament Friday and it was too much talent to overcome.

The top-ranked Johnston Dragons, oozing outstanding athletes at every spot, handed the sixth-ranked Lions a 51-39 setback at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

"They're a very tough team," said Linn-Mar coach Jaime Brandt. "They're athletic. They have some really talented players and they played really well today."

Taryn Knuth, a 6-foot-4 junior who neutralized Linn-Mar star Amanda Ollinger, has committed to play volleyball at Florida State. Elle Brown, a sensational 5-foot-11 point guard and the daughter of former Olympic track star Nathasha Kaiser-Brown, will play basketball at Missouri.


Laube paid tribute to father at state

DES MOINES - Marion coach Corby Laube was hoping to wear his special purple shirt for one more day at the girls state basketball tournament in Des Moines, but he won't get the chance.

The seventh-ranked Indians saw their historic season end in the semifinals of the Class 4A tournament Friday with a 54-48 loss to No. 8 Pella at Wells Fargo Arena.

Laube has been wearing a purple dress shirt at games in honor of his father, Harlen, who has been battling Alzheimer's disease for several years and is living in a care facility in Cedar Falls.

Mia Laube, one of Marion's top players and the coach's daughter, said her younger sister Kayba selected the shirt around Christmastime for their father to wear in tribute to their grand-father.

"He wore it for the first time to the Alzheimer's game in honor of my grandpa," she said Friday. "It's kind of become his good-luck charm to know that our grand-pa is with us."

Mia Laube remembers her father wearing the shirt when the Indians defeated Center Point-Urbana during the regular season, a victory that helped Marion tie for the West Division title in the Wamac Conference.


No. 6 Eagles roll into regional finals

Kaliph Fagan has a mop of unruly hair at the top of his lanky 6-foot-4 frame, something he humorously calls the Kaliph 'Fro, but there's nothing unruly about the way he plays for the Kirkwood men's basketball team.

Fagan brings a ton of creative energy to the club when coach Bryan Petersen summons him off the bench like he did Thursday night.

Fagan scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds as the sixth-ranked Eagles stomped Iowa Central, 90-61, in the regional semifinals at Johnson Hall.

Kirkwood (26-4) will host 18th-ranked Iowa Lakes (25-7) in the regional finals at 3 p.m. Saturday, with the winner advancing to the NJCAA Division II national tournament.


No. 3 KCC women ousted by No. 15 DMACC

Kim Muhl would love to win a seventh national title at Kirkwood before he calls it a career as the women's basketball coach, but it won't happen this year.

The third-ranked Eagles were eliminated by No. 15 DMACC, 66-54, in the semifinals of the NJCAA Division II regional tournament Thursday night at Johnson Hall in a mild upset.

Kirkwood swept the season series from the Bears, but the visitors from Boone played a sharp game while the Eagles struggled mightily on offense. Kirkwood made only one 3-pointer in 18 attempts for a woeful 5.6 percent and committed 22 turnovers.

"We weren't very good, were we?" were the first words out of Muhl's mouth after the game. "Pretty bad. Can't do much about it. Can't hit a shot."


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