Tuesday, December 11, 2018
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Kiah and Tia lead all-Metro teams

The honor may not carry as much swagger as those she has or will collect, but Kiah Stokes added another tidbit to her resume Wednesday (Feb. 23) when she was named the Metro girls basketball Player of the Year.

Stokes already has been named to the McDonald's All-America team and will play in that all-star game at Chicago on March 30 and the WBCA Nike All-Star Game in Indianapolis on April 2.

She likely will be named Iowa's Miss Basketball next month and again be honored as the state's Gatorade girls basketball Athlete of the Year.  She has signed a letter of intent to play basketball at the University of Connecticut, the two-time defending national champions.

Stokes also holds the state record for career blocked shots. She leads the state in scoring with a 25.2 average and is second in rebounds per game average (15.1) and blocked shots per game average (5.81).  She has scored 1,634 points, grabbed 1,199 rebounds and blocked 502 shots in her four-year career at Linn-Mar and led the Lions to four straight state tournament appearances, including a Class 4A state title a year ago.

Stokes and the Lions have a shot at repeating as tournament champs next week.

Stokes was one of four unanimous selections on the All-Metro team. The others are senior Tia Dawson of Washington, who is headed to Dartmouth, Xavier senior Alex Saxen and Kennedy junior Courtney Strait.


Lion matmen rally for win (barely)

If you want to stumble across unusual stories, just spend a few days with the Linn-Mar wrestling team.

The Lions seem to attract them.

Just last week, a Linn-Mar wrestler forfeited his match at the state tournament to a girl, sparking a national debate about gender equity, religion and the American Way.

Just when that simmered down, the Lions competed in an important dual meet Tuesday night at Linn-Mar and when it ended, nobody knew who won. Really. Nobody knew.

As it turned out, Linn-Mar won the meet on an obscure tiebreaker and earned a date in the state dual meet tournament this Saturday against Waverly-Shell Rock, the powerful team that just won its fourth straight title at the traditional state wrestling tournament in Des Moines.

Strange, indeed.

Linn-Mar's meet against North Scott in the regional tournament Tuesday night finished in a 29-29 tie when the Lions rallied from a 29-9 deficit in the last four matches, snatching a dramatic deadlock from the jaws of defeat.

Somebody had to be declared the winner, because somebody had to advance to the state dual meet tournament this Saturday at the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Cedar Rapids. But which team?

The coaches didn't know. The two mat officials didn't know. The wrestlers didn't know. The fans didn't know.


Stokes goes for 30; Lions head back to state

Xavier girls basketball coach Tom Lilly said if his team could have played the game without a scoreboard they might have had a chance against second-ranked Linn-Mar Tuesday night.

“We came out the first half and played like we had nothing to lose, like it was a summer league game," he said. “Then, at the half, we looked up at the scoreboard and saw we were ahead by three. We saw the possibility of winning. It made it a different game, psychologically more than physical.”

 In other words, the Saints (15-8) played the second half trying their best not to lose instead of just trying to win.

The Linn-Mar girls, meanwhile, came out of the intermission with but one mission:

 Throw the ball over the top of everybody else to super-sized senior superstar Kiah Stokes and let her pop in buckets at will.

As a result, the Lions quickly erased a 19-16 halftime deficit with an 18-2 third quarter run and coasted to a 48-30 victory.

“We sort of had the jitters in the first half,” said Stokes, who scored 20 of her game-high 30 points in the last half.


Linn-Mar is headline maker beyond wrestling

Linn-Mar High School became part of a national story last week when one of its wrestlers, Joel Northrup, defaulted to a girl in the first round of the state tournament.

Northrup’s decision has been reported widely in various media outlets, starting with MSR’s Jim Ecker reporting earlier in the week that it may be a possibility. When Northrup chose not to take the mat against Cassy Herkleman of Cedar Falls, it set off reports near and far, from ABC News to USA Today and from ESPN to The New York Times.

The odd set of circumstances has been debated widely, from an MSR column by Mike Koolbeck the day of the decision to others in national news outlets.

Slowly, the Northrup story will disappear from the national landscape. But headlines for the Linn-Mar athletic program continue to accumulate.

This has been quite a start to the 2010-2011 sports season for the folks at Linn-Mar. The football program had another nice season, going 8-3 and advancing to the second round of the state playoffs.


Wes Washpun gets offer from Missouri State

Cedar Rapids Washington senior Wes Washpun has been offered a scholarship to play basketball at Missouri State.

Washpun said Tuesday he is seriously considering the offer, but wants to visit Missouri State and possibly other schools in the next few weeks before making a decision.

Missouri State Coach Cuonzo Martin called Washpun Monday night and made the offer, shortly after Washpun had scored 21 points and helped Washington beat Clinton in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A substate tournament.

"I just thought it was another call, and to get the offer like that was pretty exciting," he said. "It's definitely exciting news and I'm very appreciative of the offer."

Washpun, a 6-foot-1 point guard, is averaging 17.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3.4 steals and 2.2 blocked shots for the Warriors (15-8).

Washpun also has offers from North Dakota, North Dakota State and South Dakota State. "I'm still thinking I'm going to wait and take all my visits after the season is over before I make my decision," he said.

The Iowa Hawkeyes have expressed interest, but have not offered a scholarship. Northern Iowa offered Washpun a scholarship that would have started in 2012 instead of 2011, meaning Washpun would have been a walk-on next season, but UNI withdrew its offer last fall after Washpun said he was not ready to decide.


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