ANKENY - In five years, only one team not named Iowa City West has won the boys' team tennis state championship in Class 2A.
The Trojans' daunting tennis legacy only makes the latest opportunity more enticing for Linn-Mar.
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AMES — Naz Mitrou-Long tried to tell himself it was just another game.
Then the lights started flashing and the music started playing inside Hilton Coliseum. He looked over and saw his brother, Elijah, in a Mount St. Mary’s uniform. The Iowa State guard caught his brother’s eye and gave him a wink.
“I’m like, ‘Man we’re really about to play,’” Mitrou-Long said. “It was kind of surreal honestly.
“It sucks because part of me wanted to cheer for him. I can’t even lie because he was making some plays tonight. Everybody saw that. But part of me was like, ‘Keep it competitive.’ It was a little weird, but it was a good time.”
Mitrou-Long estimated he and his brother had 36 family members in attendance to see No. 23 Iowa State beat Mount St. Mary’s 73-55 on Monday night. What they saw, as well as the rest of the Hilton crowd, was a bit of a clunky Cyclones (2-0) win.
“We got slowed down at times,” said Iowa State coach Steve Prohm. “It seemed like it was either fouls or balls out of bounds. And then we went through a stretch, I thought, in the second half where we started struggling and they made their little run.
“I really think it was a lot about our poor offense. I’m not overbearing offensively, I want those guys playing with freedom, but there’s a difference between freedom and bad shots. We were tinkering on that line a couple times.”
After tallying 96 possessions in a season-opening win, Iowa State dipped to 75 against the Mountaineers (0-2), had 11 turnovers to its 14 assists on 30 makes and shot 25 percent from 3-point range. Forwards Merrill Holden and Solomon Young committed four fouls apiece in nine and 11 minutes, respectively.
“It was an awkward pace they play at,” said point guard Monte Morris. “You just had to adjust. Like Coach said, it was a win. It probably wasn’t our best performance offensively, at times defensively also. We’ve just got to take it back to the chalkboard and get better.”
Mount St. Mary’s cut the ISU lead to 49-39 before the Cyclones used a 15-2 run spanning 6:09 to go up 23 — the Mountaineers never got within the final margin of 18 points after that.
Elijah Long led the Mountaineers with 19 points and seven rebounds while Morris (18), Matt Thomas (13), Deonte Burton (10) and Nick Weiler-Babb (10) all finished in double figures scoring. Weiler-Babb was 5-of-6 shooting and added five rebounds while Burton had 13 boards to accompany his scoring.
Prohm issued Burton a challenge before the season to get double-doubles every night. Even though Burton got his first one in just the second game, he feels like there is a lot of room to get better.
“I thought I attacked the glass well defensively but offensively, I only got one rebound so I need to attack it more offensively,” Burton said. “So, still can improve on how I rebound.”
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