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Friday, March 22, 2019
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Metro Sports Report

No. 2 Eagles reach regional finals

The Kirkwood Eagles have a strong candidate for National Player of the  Year with Doug Wilson, but they proved they can win a big game without  him playing a big role Thursday night.

The second-ranked Eagles knocked off DMACC, 87-77, in the regional  semifinals with Wilson saddled with foul problems for a long stretch  of the second half with the game in doubt.

Kirkwood (26-4) will host seventh-ranked NIACC (25-4) in the NJCAA  Division II regional finals Saturday at 3 p.m., with a trip to the  national tournament to the victor.

Wilson, a 6-foot-7 All-American from Des Moines, picked up his third  foul with 16:57 left in the game and headed to the bench with the  Eagles clinging to a six-point lead at 42-36.

As it turned out, they had nothing to worry about.

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No. 4 Eagles cruise in regional

The Kirkwood women's basketball team plans to spend the weekend in Mason City, but the Eagles are not going there for the fine cuisine or weather.

The fourth-ranked Eagles are headed to Mason City for the final two rounds of the NJCAA Division II regional tournament, with a trip to the national tournament the ultimate prize.

Kirkwood reached the semifinals of the regional Wednesday night by pounding Southwestern, 87-49, in the opening round at Johnson Hall.

The Eagles led, 47-11, at halftime and put the game on cruise control in the second half.

Kirkwood (26-6) will face DMACC (16-14) in the semifinals Saturday at 3 p.m. in Mason City. NIACC (25-5) will meet Iowa Central (18-12) in the other semifinal, with the winners colliding Sunday for the regional title.

NIACC, which is located in Mason City, is hosting the semifinals and finals as the No. 1 seed in the regional. NIACC and Kirkwood tied for the conference title and swapped six-point victories during the regular season, but NIACC got the No. 1 seed based on point differential against all the other teams in the ICCAC conference.

Kirkwood Coach Kim Muhl does not like the way "point differential" was employed to break the tie, thinking it can lead to unsportsmanlike conduct by teams that might be inclined to run up the score against a hapless opponent. It did not escape Muhl's attention that NIACC scored 131 points against winless Ellsworth when NIACC and Kirkwood were battling for the No. 1 seed.

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Mustangs spiked by No. 4 Vikings

The Mount Mercy men's volleyball team put itself on the map when it defeated Grand View last month when the Vikings were ranked No. 1 in the country, but the rematch was a different story.

Grand View swept the Mustangs, 25-19, 25-22, 25-18, in a Heart of America Conference match at the Hennessey Recreation Center Wednesday night to gain a measure of revenge.

Grand View, currently ranked No. 4, raised its records to 12-1 overall and 8-1 in the conference. Mount Mercy, which is ranked No. 9, fell to 13-6 overall and 5-1 in the league.

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No. 2 Eagles roll in regional opener

The ultimate goal for the Kirkwood men's basketball team is to win seven straight playoff games this month and claim their second national title in seven years.

It's serious business, but it helps to laugh along the way.

The second-ranked Eagles had a chance to relax and enjoy themselves in the regional opener Wednesday night with an easy 106-52 victory over Southwestern at Johnson Hall.

Kirkwood (25-4) will host DMACC (22-9) in the regional semifinals Thursday at 7 p.m.

The Eagles had a lot of fun in the final minutes Wednesday night, especially when Griffen Clark hit a 3-pointer to put them over the century mark and then when he intentionally passed the ball off the backboard to Niko Gosnell for a dunk that brought everyone to their feet.

"There's no question it helps to have a game like that and everybody gets to contribute and everybody gets to share some fun on the court," said Coach Bryan Petersen. "I think it goes a long way with team chemistry and team morale."

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Mustangs' season ended by Graceland

They may not be as talented as last year's NAIA national champions, but the Graceland Yellowjackets showed some championship-caliber play on Tuesday night.

Unfortunately for the Mount Mercy men's basketball team, that meant an end to their season.

Senior Mo Jackson scored 25 points to lead six players in double figures, including a key 4-point play to stymie a Mustang rally with 5:13 remaining, as Graceland avenged two regular-season losses with a 94-84 win in the opening round of the Heart of America Conference Tournament at the Hennessey Rec Center.

No. 9 seed Graceland (16-14) advances to the quarterfinals on Thursday night against No. 1 seed and top-ranked Benedictine (28-2). Mount Mercy, the eighth seed, closes its season at 16-15.

The visitors led 45-42 at halftime as both teams played spirited basketball in the first 20 minutes. Mount Mercy came out aggressively to start the second half, grabbing several offensive rebounds but were unable to finish.

"I thought we got to the basket," said Mustang Coach Aaron Jennings. "We drew up a couple plays. We executed, guys created, got some good looks but nothing dropped. I think we missed our first three or four layups and our first couple free throws and they took advantage."

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