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Monday, October 23, 2017
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Metro Sports Report

Let's think big when the Cell Center reopens

It’s been a significant last 10 days for the city of Cedar Rapids and the U.S. Cellular Center.

First it was announced that the 2011 Girls State Volleyball Tournament will remain in the city. This was in jeopardy because the tournament's home since 1991, the U.S. Cellular Center, is going to be closed for renovation, forcing the IGHSAU to look for another site. After much deliberation, and a last second push by Sioux City, the tournament will temporarily move to the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena for 2011. This is huge news for the city and the surrounding area.

The state tournament has pumped in a tremendous amount of revenue into the metro area over its run and if that money left, particularly post-flood, the entire metro as well as the corridor would have taken a hit. The IGHSAU has not guaranteed that the tournament will stay in Cedar Rapids beyond 2015, when the contract with U.S. Cellular Center expires, but hopefully that will be a formality after it sees the improvements made.

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Streaking Wahawks slip past Saints

Among Metro teams and fans, No. 6 Waterloo West may be best known as the only team that has managed to tame the mighty Linn-Mar Lions.

Tuesday night, the Wahawks took down another top Metro team, defeating No. 11 Xavier 32-29 after a fierce, evenly played defensive skirmish in which turnovers were more numerous than baskets. In the end, Waterloo senior leader Jadyn Spencer won the game at the free throw line.

For Xavier (12-5, 8-4), it was a missed opportunity to topple a streaking team.

“We consider Waterloo West a state tournament caliber team, and we had every opportunity to win on our home floor,” said Coach Tom Lilly. “We just didn’t finish the job.”

The Wahawks (14-2, 10-2) led 11-7 after the first period, riding on eight points by Spencer. The Saints held her in check and collected five points from guard Annie Dale in the second period as Waterloo limped to a 16-13 half-time lead with Spencer on the bench with three fouls.

After the break, Xavier took care of the ball and benefitted from balanced scoring to take its first lead of the game, 21-20, at 4:30 in the third period. The Saints outscored the Wahawks 12-7 to eek out a 25-23 lead to end the quarter.

Both teams struggled to find the hoop in the final period until Dale hit a lay-up for Xavier with 4:47 remaining, giving the Saints a four-point edge that seemed cavernous in the low-scoring affair.

But Spencer hit a free throw and a bucket and Wahawk freshman Haley Puk launched a huge three to give Waterloo a two-point lead with 2:30 left in the game.

Xavier’s Alex Saxen tied the game at 29 with a minute to go, but Spencer was fouled at the other end and coolly tossed in two free throws for the lead. Saxen missed a running jumper with 10 seconds on the clock, and Waterloo got the ball into Spencer’s hands one more time. She was fouled and made a final free throw to seal the three-point victory.

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Sluggish Lions down Waterloo East

WATERLOO -The numbers screamed mismatch.

After all, Linn-Mar walked into Fred J. Miller Gymnasium unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in Class 4A. Waterloo East, conversely, had beaten exactly one team all year.

Tuesday night, though, the Trojans didn't exactly go quietly. Yes, Linn-Mar pulled away and claimed a 76-52 victory, but East stayed close for a good, long time.

"I told our kids in (the locker room) that we got by with one," said Lions Coach Chris Robertson after his team improved to 14-0. "We didn't play our best, but you've gotta give East a lot of credit. They outplayed us tonight in the first half."

Said Trojan Coach Anthony Thomas, "I think that was a very winnable basketball game."

East, now 1-12 overall, was aggressive early in both ends of the court. The Trojans attacked the basket offensively. Defensively, they stuck with Linn-Mar guards Marcus Paige and Matt Bohannon. Paige has committed to North Carolina; Bohannon is a Northern Iowa recruit.

East held a 14-12 lead midway through the first quarter. Linn-Mar took the edge for good in the second, but it was just a 32-25 game at the break.

"The kids gave me great effort," said Thomas. "I can't knock the effort."

But ...

"In the third quarter, we let it slip away once again," Thomas said.

Linn-Mar had some success pounding the ball inside in the opening half. After the break, Lion big men Ian McBrayer and Josh Montague really went to work.

McBrayer, at 6-foot-6, scored eight of his 17 points in the third quarter and all of them came on layups. Montague, a 6-7 senior, tallied 19 markers, eight in the last two quarters.

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Skinny Prairie Hawks give Kennedy a battle

Jacob Aune took off his jersey in the Prairie locker room Tuesday night and revealed nothing but skin and bones.

"I know I'm skinny," he said. "I've been skinny my whole life."

Skinny, but tough.

The skinny Hawks from Prairie gave the brawny fifth-ranked Cougars from Kennedy a stiff battle Tuesday night before falling short, 62-48, in a Mississippi Valley Conference game at Kennedy.

Aune, a 6-foot-2 junior, said he weighs about 138 or 140 pounds, which means he was giving away at least 75 pounds to the football players who play basketball at Kennedy.

Christian French stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 225 pounds, Kyle Lamaak is 6-foot-4 and 215, Jake Manning (who doesn't play football) is 6-foot-5 and 213 pounds. That's what Kennedy had near the basket.

Meanwhile, Prairie countered with a 138-pounder and a 5-foot-8 point guard named Jerome Frazier who showed no fear.

"Playing against guys like Christian (French) is fun," Aune insisted, "being able to go into him and see what I can do."

Aune popped in 18 points and hit two 3-pointers to help the Hawks stay within striking distance. His 3-pointer pulled Prairie within 41-38 early in the fourth quarter.

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No. 2 Lions flatten Waterloo East

The only thing that wasn’t working at Linn-Mar Tuesday night was the public address system and the foul board.

The Linn-Mar offense was hitting on all cylinders. The Lions routed Waterloo East, 80-15, in a Mississippi Valley Conference girls basketball fgame.

No. 2 Linn-Mar (16-1, 11-1 MVC) built a 51-9 lead by halftime.

On paper this looked like it would be a mismatch with the best team in the Mississippi Division taking on the weakest in the Valley Division.

Linn-Mar Coach Mike Brandt was happy afterward, even with this easy victory compared to a major win Saturday over Class 3A No. 1 Ballard.

“I was pleased we picked up our defense tonight,” Brandt said. "We played our game, which I was hoping for, and executed well all night long.”

All-American Kiah Stokes scored 30 points to lead the Lions.

Linn-Mar streaked to a 19-0 lead.

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