MARION — To keep up with the Joneses, you’ve got to schedule like them.
That’s why you saw Mount Pleasant playing Monday night at Linn-Mar. Beating the Lions, as a matter of fact, 72-62.
“When you’re trying to compete with Xavier, Heelan, Assumption, who play in these (Class 4A) leagues, you’ve got to do this,” Mount Pleasant Coach Paul Rundquist said. “We’ve got to learn how to play with adversity ... Tonight, you saw we’re just getting a little more used to it. We’ve got to schedule up to face that adversity and just get better.”
Ranked sixth in Class 3A, Mount Pleasant (5-2) has put together a non-conference schedule that automatically would give it a higher RPI, if there was such a thing in boys’ prep basketball. Its two losses were close ones to two-time defending 3A champ Cedar Rapids Xavier and a very good 4A team from Dubuque Hempstead.
Cedar Rapids Washington is another 4A foe later in the season. It’s easier to play a heavy schedule like this when you’ve got as experienced a team as Rundquist has (multiple three and four-year starters), but surviving it takes more than just that.
This was a big win, a statement win, as Linn-Mar (4-2) came in ranked eighth in 4A.
“I think we’ve handled it pretty well,” said Mount Pleasant point guard Brady Sartorius. “Obviously we got this ‘W,’ and I think that will help us in the long run. Because we’ve been in battles, and we’re not just blowing everyone out.”
Sartorius was the best player on the floor, scoring a game-high 26 points. His penetration led to buckets for himself and his teammates, and he took over the fourth quarter, helping MP extend a precarious two-point lead.
The Panthers shot 62 percent from the field in the game, including making 29 of 37 attempts from two-point range. That tells you everything, as good ball movement led to them getting a plethora of really good shots against a much bigger opponent.
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“Their execution in the fourth quarter was good,” said Linn-Mar Coach Chris Robertson. “(Sartorius) is as good as any guard we’ll have in our league. He’s very strong, tough, shoots it well, makes good decisions. A tough matchup.”
Jacob Robertson led Linn-Mar with 18 points, followed closely by Trey Hutcheson with 17. But they scored just five and two, respectively, in the second half, as Mount Pleasant did a good job defending them.
“I just felt like we were a little off,” Coach Robertson said. “Maybe playing on Monday had something to do with it. Our focus just wasn’t as sharp ... You can’t give up 72 points at home.”
“We always stress our defense, and we want to feed off that defense,” Rundquist said. “I think we did that, for the most part. The kids executed. We ran a couple of sets to get a good look early in the fourth, and we did. We knocked the shot down, and that gave us confidence. Then I just think we ended up defending even better (after that).”
MOUNT PLEASANT (72): Jonathan Ita 3-4 1-2 8, Kieran Kohorst 7-9 1-1 16, Brady Sartorius 9-16 8-8 26, Colin Mulford 2-5 0-0 4, Jordan Magnani 8-10 1-1 18, Maison Ashton 0-1 0-0 0, Tucker Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Rhett Zeglen 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 29-47 11-12 72.
LINN-MAR (62): Jaren Nelson 3-5 2-2 9, Trey Hutcheson 6-12 2-2 17, Nate Annis 1-2 0-0 2, Jacob Robertson 7-10 0-0 18, Nolan Ruff 1-4 1-4 3, Jack Gertsen 1-2 0-0 2, Cole Martin 1-4 2-2 4, Greg Hall 3-6 0-0 7, Hayden Passmore 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-46 7-10 62.
Halftime — Mount Pleasant 36, Linn-Mar 30. 3-point goals — Mount Pleasant 3-10 (Ita 1-2, Kohorst 1-1, Sartorius 0-1, Mulford 0-3, Magnani 1-1, Ashton 0-1, Zeglen 0-1), Linn-Mar 9-20 (Nelson 1-1, Hutcheson 3-5, Robertson 4-7, Ruff 0-1, Martin 0-2, Hall 1-4). Rebounds — Mount Pleasant 23 (Kohorst 6), Linn-Mar 17 (Ruff 5). Total fouls — Mount Pleasant 14, Linn-Mar 14. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Mount Pleasant 6, Linn-Mar 8.
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