Tuesday, February 18, 2020
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

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.


'Jazz'-ed up Warriors headed to state

The Washington Warriors got all “Jazz-ed” up on Tuesday night. As in senior forward Jazz Royster.

Royster responded to a second-quarter tongue-lashing from Coach Frank Howell and spearheaded her team to a 70-51 regional final victory over No. 7 Pleasant Valley at Prairie High School.

The sixth-ranked Warriors (19-3) will face No.3 Iowa City West (21-2) next Wednesday at 10 a.m. in the first round of the girls state tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

It will be Howell’s fifth trip to Des Moines in eight years at the helm of the Warriors. He also made two appearances as head coach at Audubon High School.

Royster said she took Howell’s comments in stride.

“I kind of like it when I get yelled at because it makes me work harder,” she said. “I have never been to state before. It feels great.”

With his team leading by eight points, Howell removed Royster from the game early in the second quarter. He angrily scolded the junior for several seconds and then sent her back in the game.

Royster immediately responded with a three-point play, then banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the key, followed by a offensive rebound and a put-back. In a span of just three minutes, Royster had ignited the Warriors with eight key points, giving her team a 20-point lead (37-17).

Washington led 39-17 at halftime and Pleasant Valley (18-4) never threatened again.

Leading scorer and rebounder Tia Dawson played sparingly in the first half for Washington due to foul problems, making Royster’s heroics even more important.

“That was a big deal for us,” Howell said of Royster’s second-quarter binge. “Especially because Tia (Dawson) had two fouls. Jazz played really big for us.”


Late game heroics save Marion boys

Sub-par shooting didn’t stop middle school girls with Indian jerseys and war-painted faces from asking to pose for photos with Dusty Albaugh and Kasey Semler after Wednesday night’s game.

For the Marion seniors are not only teen heartthrobs, they’re bona fide stars.

With the white-knuckler of a game with Center Point-Urbana on the line, knotted-up with just seconds to go, it was Albaugh and Semler who pulled it out for their team.

“It’s fitting that it was the two of them that came through in the end,” said Marion Coach Mike Manderscheid after the 55-51 home victory over CPU in a first round Class 3A substate matchup of Wamac rivals.

“They’ve been doing it all year.”

And they’ll likely be called on to do again when they face Mount Vernon or Independence Thursday night in a substate semifinal at Kennedy.  Independence's game against Mount Vernon scheduled for Monday night was postponed to Tuesday because of icy road conditions.

The Indians (15-7) and Stormin’ Pointers (10-12) faced each other twice in the regular season with Marion winning both, 86-78 and 72-60.

“We knew we’d get their A game,” said Albaugh. “They’re a good team, and they play hard. And, yeah, it was pretty intense.”

It was a see-saw struggle of two well-prepared, gritty fighters all night long.


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