CEDAR RAPIDS — All in all, a pretty solid Friday for the Linn-Mar boys’ basketball team.
The Lions hung on for a 63-59 win Friday night at Cedar Rapids Prairie. Earlier in the day, they found out who is in their Class 4A substate.
Who isn’t is top-ranked, defending champ Iowa City West, and that’s a good thing.
“I’ll be honest, that’s what we were looking for. Somebody different,” said Coach Chris Robertson. “We’re excited, but we know it’s not going to be easy. There are good teams there ... There are two or three good teams in about every substate. Nothing’s easy, but, yeah, we’re as happy as can be on that. Now we need to get some wins going, so maybe we can play at home or whatever.”
Linn-Mar (8-6) is in with Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Burlington, Muscatine, Pleasant Valley and Davenport North. PV is ranked eighth by The Gazette, Muscatine has Iowa Hawkeyes recruit Joe Wieskamp and North has a good record and a recent transfer that just became eligible and could be a difference maker.
You could make a case for about any of those six teams to get to the state tournament. Linn-Mar is definitely one of them.
“We’ve all been talking about our draw,” said Linn-Mar’s Trey Hutcheson. “Our substate is pretty even top to bottom. I think anybody can get it. We’ve got to put together three straight games, but we have no doubt we can get to state. We like the draw we got. We’ve just got to play well now.”
Hutcheson scored 21 points, 17 in the second half here. He hit 10 of 11 free throws, part of a 19-of-22 night for his club that was a difference maker.
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Linn-Mar scored the first eight points of the game and never trailed, though it got very tight in the second half. Prairie (7-8) scratched within a point early in the fourth quarter but just could not make a shot that would have tied things or even put the Hawks ahead.
Several of those shots were open, too.
“Just the little things we talk about all the time that can swing a game one way or the other,” said Prairie’s Griff Clark. “The last couple of games, the little things really haven’t gone our way. But we’re hoping if we stay with it, the rest of the year some of these games will go our way.”
Keegan Murray had 17 points and Clark 16 for the Hawks, whose comeback from a nine-point halftime deficit was spurred by finally hitting some shots from beyond the arc. Prairie was 1 for 9 there in the first half, 7 of 16 in the second.
“That’s what they do,” Hutcheson said. “If they get confidence, you saw it, they can make shots from anywhere. You saw where Clark was making shots. We started out with four or five stops. If you can take their confidence away pretty early, that helps a lot. Because they shoot lights out some nights.”
Jacob Robertson added 14 points for Linn-Mar, which responded from a blowout loss Tuesday night at home to No. 4 Cedar Falls. Prairie, which has lost four straight, did get placed in a substate with West, by the way.
“It was a good bounce-back game for us,” Jacob Robertson said. “We didn’t really shoot it well Tuesday night at all, so it was good to come back here and get a win tonight against a pretty good team. Their record maybe doesn’t show it, kind of like ours. We can go out and play with anybody.”
AT CEDAR RAPIDS PRAIRIE
LINN-MAR (63): Jaren Nelson 1-4 1-1 3, Trey Hutcheson 5-10 10-11 21, Nate Annis 3-5 0-0 6, Jacob Robertson 6-9 0-0 14, Nolan Ruff 1-5 5-6 8, Jack Gertsen 1-2 0-0 2, Cole Martin 0-0 1-2 1, Hayden Passmore 0-2 2-2 2, Greg Hall 3-6 0-0 6. Totals 20-44 19-22 63.
C.R. PRAIRIE (59): Harrison Cook 0-2 0-0 0, Logan Burg 5-8 1-2 11, Kris Murray 3-11 4-4 11, Keegan Murray 5-13 3-3 17, Griff Clark 5-11 3-3 16, Mason Hook 0-2 0-0 0, Matt Walter 0-0 0-0 0, Levi Usher 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 20-51 11-12 59.
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Halftime — Linn-Mar 32, Prairie 23. 3-point goals — Linn-Mar 4-18 (Nelson 0-2, Hutcheson 1-4, Robertson 2-5, Ruff 1-3, Passmore 0-1, Hall 0-3). Prairie 8-25 (Kr. Murray 1-8, Ke. Murray 4-8, Clark 3-8, Hook 0-1). Rebounds — Linn-Mar28 (Hutcheson 6), Prairie 29 (Cook, Ke. Murray 6). Total fouls — Linn-Mar 13, Prairie 18. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Linn-Mar 7, Prairie 10.
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