CEDAR RAPIDS — Just like a runner takes a few steps before reaching top speed, a team often takes a while to start playing at its optimal level.
This certainly is true of the Xavier boys’ basketball team, which, after a bumpy start to the season, seems to be close to playing its best basketball.
Many fans were ringing the alarm when the Saints dropped three games in quick succession against Waterloo West, Cedar Rapids Kennedy and Cedar Rapids Prairie. The Saints then reeled off six straight wins before losing to Dubuque Senior, 61-57, on Tuesday.
With many new players on the team, it was expected the Saints would take some time to really connect and play to their potential. One of the key differences in the Saints’ winning streak had been the addition of senior forward Jacob Hines, who has added some much needed rebounding.
“I think everyone is just gelling right now, and getting to know each other’s tendencies and just playing better with each other,” Hines said. “We just need to keep our focus, and hopefully we will keep experiencing success.”
The Saints’ 80-48 win over Perry on Jan. 13 was played on a bigger stage than usual for this time of year. Taking place in the U.S. Cellular Center, Xavier participated in the inaugural WFA Shootout. Making a season high 14 3-pointers, the Saints cruised to an easy victory.
“It is good to keep getting wins no matter where we play, we want to play with intensity regardless to where we are,” senior guard Jackson Joens said. “However, with that being said, it was good to get down to the Cell. We had the chance to again on January 20 and hopefully again at the end of the season.”
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Joens has been a key part of the Saints’ run who, along with senior guard Matt Mims, continues to lead the team in scoring. Both seniors are having great seasons.
“Being voted (KCRG) Athlete of the Week was truly an honor,” Mims said. “I remember as a kid watching my favorite athletes in the Metro area on the news and thinking how cool it would be if it happened to me. I can’t express how much I appreciate everyone voting for me and the Xavier community for supporting me and my teammates this season.”
The Saints host Cedar Rapids Washington tonight.