Sunday, May 31, 2020
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

When official walks everyone loses

When an official walked off the court and effectively cancelled a youth basketball game earlier this month, a healthy debate about responsibility ensued.

In Iowa City at the Spring Fling tournament, an official became upset about the rough play and apparent trash talk between the Iowa Barnstormers and Wisconsin Force out of Madison. As the official left the court, he looked toward the Force bench and said, “I’m not dealing with it. You guys can’t play basketball. You don’t deserve to be here.’’

With that, the game was over with 3:07 left in the first half and the Barnstormers’ 17-and-under team leading, 20-15. The two teams exchanged handshakes and backslaps and one player was heard saying, “Well, it was fun while it lasted.’’

I did not attend the game but I have seen enough video to draw a couple conclusions.

For one, this is AAU basketball, a broad description of competition outside of high school. Many of these teams belong to the Amateur Athletic Union and compete under its auspices, but many others do not. AAU basketball often is highly competitive and, in the case of 17-and-under players, involves boys and girls competing for college scholarships. It can be very intense competition, indeed.


Blue Jays put Kellen Sweeney on extended path

Kellen Sweeney wakes up by 6:10 a.m. and gets to the ballpark by 7, even though stretching won't start until 9 or 9:30.

"You like to get there early," he said.

Sweeney, 19, is a professional baseball player now and doesn't want to miss a thing or miss an opportunity to accelerate his rise with the Toronto Blue Jays.

He's currently in extended spring training with the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., less than a year after being selected in the second round of the 2010 draft and about nine months after signing for $600,000 and college tuition.

Sweeney was an all-state shortstop at Cedar Rapids Jefferson High School, but he's a third baseman now and learning a new position. "I actually like it a lot," he said.


Piche leads Metro parade to Drake Relays

Linn-Mar senior Amanda Piche has regained her confidence, just in time for the 2011 Drake Relays.

Piche has struggled in the discus this spring, but she uncorked a winning throw of 140 feet, 8 inches at the West Delaware Invitational on Thursday and is ready to defend her title at Drake.

"Yeah, it did boost my confidence," she said Saturday. "I'm also kind of relieved that I finally threw it, because I knew I should have thrown that far. I've been disappointed in the past couple of meets before that with my performances. I'm glad I finally hit 140."

Piche won the discus title at the Drake Relays last year with a toss of 136 feet, 9 inches. Her personal best is 143-5, thrown last year, so she's almost regained the form that made her one of the top throwers in the state in 2010.

Piche tops the list of Metro girls and boys who have qualified for the 2011 Drake Relays. Linn-Mar, Washington, Prairie, Jefferson, Xavier and Kennedy all will be represented in the prestigious meet in Des Moines April 28-30. The official entry list was released Saturday.


Strapped to a chair and feeling lucky

IOWA CITY -- Linn-Mar sophomore Jordan Houdeshell set a personal record in the shot put at the Forwald Relays Thursday, but there wasn't much time to celebrate.

He had to climb off the special chair he uses in the shot put, scamper into his wheelchair, roll himself through the grass to a paved lane and get to the track.

Once there, he had to switch wheelchairs -- from his regular chair to his racing chair or "bike" -- strap himself in, adjust his helmet and wheel himself to the starting line.

He did it all successfully, with determination and self-reliance. Houdeshell is an athlete; wheelchair is merely the adjective that precedes it.

Houdeshell is a full-fledged member of the Linn-Mar boys track team, even though he cannot walk or run.

"He does exactly what the other guys do in practice," Linn-Mar Coach Ken Hopkins said. "He just uses his arms instead of his legs. He's a great competitor, a great kid."


5-sport Schebler focuses on baseball

Scott Schebler played five sports at Cedar Rapids Prairie and was all-state in three of them, so he squeezed as much out of his high school years as possible.

He believes his hyper-active schedule may have slowed his development as a pro baseball player, but he has great memories from his years at Prairie and no regrets. He played football, basketball, baseball, soccer and ran track.

"I'm glad I did all five," he told the Metro Sports Report this week. "If I would have narrowed it down, yes, I could have taken away a little bit of the learning curve I'm facing now, but I wouldn't change my mind today. If I could go back and do it again, I wouldn't change anything."

Schebler, 20, is a rookie outfielder with the Los Angeles Dodgers after signing a pro contract for $300,000 last August. He's currently assigned to extended spring training in Glendale, Ariz., where he practices and plays every day.

Schebler hit a robust .561 with seven home runs and 55 RBIs as a senior at Prairie in 2009, then hit .446 with 20 homers and 82 RBIs at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) last season. He signed with Wichita State and was leaning that way, but the Dodgers convinced him to turn pro after taking him in the 26th round of the 2010 draft.


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