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

Metro Sports Report

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.


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."


'Shaq' helps No. 1 Eagles go 21-0

Kirkwood sophomore Shaneequah Watkins has a beautiful first name, but  she's reluctantly grown to accept a lot of people calling her Shaq.

She's a lanky basketball player at 5-foot-8, but there's absolutely no resemblance in any way, shape or form to former NBA star Shaquille  O'Neal, the original Shaq at 7-foot-1 and 300 pounds.

It's a good basketball nickname, but not something Watkins has always embraced.

"At first I was a little bit disgusted, because I'm not this big guy,  I'm not a post player and I make my free throws, for the most part,"  she said Saturday. "After the years it kind of stuck."

Watkins is one of the most versatile players on the top-ranked  Kirkwood women's basketball team, which raised its record to a perfect  21-0 Saturday afternoon with an 86-29 cakewalk past Iowa Central in a  conference game at Johnson Hall.

Watkins finished with 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and one  steal in a typically well-rounded game and she's been stuffing the  stat sheet all season for the Eagles.

By now, she's grown accustomed to Kirkwood Coach Kim Muhl and a lot of  other people calling her Shaq.

"I got Shaq from my high school coach when I was coming from eighth  grade to freshman year and I would play jayvee or varsity in the  summer," she explained. "He couldn't pronounce my name and he said  Shaquilla or something and so it became Shaq. And that's how I ended  up with that."


No. 6 Xavier girls roll by Warriors

Tom Lilly knows exactly how many times the Xavier girls basketball  team had whipped the Washington Warriors by 31 points over the years.

"Zero," he said.

That was before Friday night, however.

The Saints got off to fast starts in both halves and dunked the  Warriors, 59-28, in a Mississippi Valley Conference game at Ron  Thillen Gymnasium.

"Wash has been a tremendous program and very well coached," said  Lilly. "They've been sort of our nemesis."

Not this time.

Lilly has battled Washington for the past 32 years as a head coach,  including 13 years at Regis and the past 19 years at Xavier.

He's had his share of victories against the Warriors along the way,  but nothing like this one.

The Saints, who are ranked No. 6 in Class 4A, began the game with a  13-0 run and started the second half with an 18-2 spurt, way too much  for the visitors to overcome.

Washington (7-10, 4-6) scored only eight points in the second half,  with four points in the third quarter and four more in the fourth  period.


KCC baseball players lend cagers a hand

Cal Clark, Nate Barnes, Brock Adams and Jake McLaughlin became instant  folk heroes at Kirkwood Community College Tuesday night.

It was the darndest thing you've ever seen.

Clark, Barnes, Adams and McLaughlin are baseball players at Kirkwood,  but they answered the call when the men's basketball team needed a  boost and left Johnson Hall to a standing ovation after the 17th-ranked Eagles defeated the Grand View junior varsity, 99-63.

Five Kirkwood basketball players were handed two-game suspensions by  the National Junior College Athletic Association last week for their roles in a mishap in the final minute of a home game against Ellsworth. That left KCC Coach Bryan Petersen with only five eligible players for Saturday's conference game at DMACC and for Tuesday's home  game with Grand View.

Petersen asked Kirkwood baseball coach Todd Rima if he had any players who might be able to help the team for a few days and Rima recommended  Clark, Barnes, Adams and McLaughlin.

Clark played a pivotal role in both games, first in the 58-50 victory  over DMACC and again Tuesday. He played 18 minutes as the "sixth man"  against DMACC and reprised the role against Grand View with 21 key  minutes off the bench.

Clark, who played basketball and baseball at Cedar Rapids Prairie, collected five assists against Grand View and looked comfortable as an emergency college basketball player.


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