Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Saints notch biggest win over L-M

A few dozen Xavier High School students spilled onto the court and celebrated a 64-48 victory over the Linn-Mar Lions Friday night, but those happy students did not know the entire story.

As it turns out, the 16-point victory over Linn-Mar is the biggest for  the Xavier boys basketball program in the 36-game history between the  two Metro schools.

The Saints topped the Lions by 10 points two years ago, but otherwise  Linn-Mar has dominated the series since they began playing in the  1998-99 campaign when Xavier High School opened for business.

Linn-Mar won the first 29 meetings, many of them by lopsided margins,  but the Saints have a 4-4 record against the Lions in the past four  seasons and are fighting back.

All told, Linn-Mar leads the series 32-4.

Linn-Mar is experiencing a rare "down" year for boys basketball with a  7-11 overall record, but they still have talented players and have  posted some good victories this season.

Xavier Coach Ryan Luehrsmann was happy with his club's performance on  Hall of Fame Night at Ron Thillen Gymnasium.

"I thought we were very good in stretches," he said. "We shared the  ball very well on the offensive end and for the most part were decent  on defense.


"I still think we have room for improvement, and that's the exciting  part," he said. "We're showing signs of life, so that's encouraging."

The Saints have won five of their last six games, raising their record  to 9-10 with two games left in the regular season next week.

Xavier showed good patience on offense, found the open man and took  high-percentage shots. They hit 53 percent overall from the floor and  were 52 percent on 3-pointers, nailing 9 of 17 from distance.

The Saints collected 19 assists on 22 baskets, an extremely high ratio  and a testament to the good ball movement.

"We wanted this game bad after they beat us the first time," said  senior Nolan Butkowski, who played a strong game with 15 points, six  assists, five rebounds and three 3-pointers. "We knew what we had to  do coming out and we wanted this game.

"Coach got us prepared and we were ready to go."

The Saints led the 32-minute game from start to finish, with very few  lapses along the way. Butkowski nailed a pair of 3-pointers in the  span of just a few seconds, turning a 35-29 lead into a 41-29  advantage with about three minutes left in the third quarter.

"Nolan stepped up," said Luehrsmann. "I'm really happy with him. As a  senior, he knows he's only got so many games left. He's got to take  advantage of them and have no regrets.

"I like how he's playing," the coach said. "He's real confident. He's  shooting when he's open and that's what we need him to do."

Sophomore Quinn Schulte scored seven straight points for the Saints  with a flurry to begin the fourth quarter, making it a 17-point bulge  at 54-37. It became a 20-point game at 62-42 on a three-point play by  Max Techau with 71 seconds to go.

Matt Mims scored 10 points for the Saints, all in the first half, and  finished with a game-high nine assists.

"That's what we need him to do," said Luehrsmann. "Just make the right  decision out there. There are nights where we'll need him to score 20,  and there will be nights when we need him to get 10 assists and get  everybody involved.

"Matt's a true point guard," he said. "He's not one of those guys  who's just looking to go out there and put up points. He's trying to  run a team, he's trying to play winning basketball. And I'm happy that  he's figured it out at the right time."

Jackson Joens popped in a trio of 3-pointers and scored 13 points for  Xavier. Techau finished with 14 points and Quinn Schulte had nine  points.

"Everybody played well," said Butkowski. "Let's keep doing that down  the stretch. We can still get better, but I think we're peaking at the  right time."

Tyler Voves led Linn-Mar with 13 points. Trey Hutcheson finished with  12 points for the Lions.

LINN-MAR (48): Phillips 4 0-0 9, Robertson 0 0-0 0, Hand 1 0-0 3,  Voves 5 2-5 13, Martin 0 1-2 1, Ruff 3 0-0 7, Hutcheson 4 4-4 12,  McGaffe 0 1-2 1, Pistulka 0 0-0 0, Gertsen 0 0-0 0, Kerr 1 0-0 2,  Annis 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 8-13 48.

XAVIER (64): Keating 0 0-0 0, Ropp 0 0-0 0, Lux 0 0-0 0, Mims 4 0-0  10, Butkowski 5 2-2 15, Van Berkum 0 0-0 0, Joens 5 0-0 13, Dempewolf  0 2-2 2, Q.Schulte 4 0-0 9, Hines 0 0-0 0, Techau 4 6-9 14, Johnson 0  0-0 0, B.Schulte 0 1-2 1. Totals 22 11-15 64.

Halftime - Xavier 26, Linn-Mar 20. 3-point goals - Linn-Mar 4  (Phillips 1, Hand 1, Voves 1, Ruff 1), Xavier 9 (Butkowski 3, Joens 3,  Mims 2, Q.Schulte 1).


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