MARION - As the prep volleyball season nears the midway point, Cedar Rapids Xavier identified a vital ingredient if the Saints are to retain their No. 1 ranking in Class 4A.
Now is the time to turn up the defense.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Simone Goods hit the floor grabbing her ankle after getting tied up going for a rebound and the entire Kirkwood gym fell silent.
Averaging 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds this season, the sophomore forward is a huge part of what makes the Eagles go. It was the last thing anyone in the gym wanted to see.
Suddenly, however, Goods sprang back up, hobbled and limping as she trotted down the floor. Not looking back at the bench, she nearly got back to her spot on defense before Kirkwood Coach Kim Muhl pulled her.
After spending about five minutes with a trainer in a back room, she returned and checked in, to the relief of the Kirkwood faithful. Simply a rolled ankle, nothing more.
“It was scary, it was very scary, but I knew what it was,” Goods said. “I just had to get through it. I’m fine.”
Goods’ injury didn’t seem to bother her the rest of the game, as she was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field, scoring 23 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in the Eagles’ 79-52 win over Southwestern in Region XI NJCAA semifinal action.
A prominent presence in the paint, Goods is a critical part of the Eagles’ (32-0) offense and defense. The tallest player on the roster, she’s also mobile enough to switch onto smaller perimeter players before diving back into the paint.
Losing her would have been disastrous, especially considering Muhl’s current feelings about his bench situation, which he feels has not produced much as of late. In fact, he put some of his starters back in late in the game to prove a point.
“We need to have someone on the bench step up and play, they didn’t want to do that tonight,” Muhl said. “It aggravates me right now, you’re up 30 and you have people who don’t want to play hard.”
But as Kirkwood continues its march toward the NJCAA Division II basketball tournament, the team seems to be in a good spot. The Eagles led the Spartans 40-17 at halftime and have not been tested in their first two postseason games.
Playing a combination of good defense — which they say can get even better — and shooting fairly well from the field (38 percent in the regional tournament through two games), Kirkwood is a very real threat to win a national championship.
It’s not just Goods, either. After a 0-6 shooting performance in the first postseason game, sophomore guard Shaneequah Watkins was 5-for-13 for 12 points. Eriayana Frazier scored 11 to lead Southwestern.
The championship will be game played against NIACC at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Johnson Hall, with the winner advancing to the national tournament.
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