Derrick Diggins goes off for 41 points as Kennedy opens season with win over Dubuque Wahlert

Senior guard just shy of school record in 68-56 victory

CEDAR RAPIDS — He gave you that wide smile and hemmed and hawed about it a little bit.

Yeah, Derrick Diggins knew he was close to the magical 40-point mark in the final minute of Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s season-opening 68-56 boys’ basketball win over Dubuque Wahlert.

“In the back of my mind, I knew 40 was coming,” Diggins admitted. “I started chasing it a little bit when it got to 37. Before that, I was just trying to get us the win, stay on top. Keep battling through everything.”

The 6-foot-2 senior guard finished with 41, a pair of free throws putting him over the top. It would have been most appropriate had he finished off the dunk that led to those foul shots, but, whatever.

This was a magical night, a magical performance.

“My teammates got me going,” Diggins said. “They got me going early, in school today, to be honest, with ‘Are you ready for the game?’ It just felt good, all my teammates giving me that encouragement: ‘OK, Derrick, are you ready?’ Yeah, I’m ready. Let’s go.”

Wahlert had no defensive answer for him, though not a lot of teams will this season. Diggins is quick, can shoot it, can drive it, can flush it, and pass it.

There didn’t appear to be any forced shots in a 14-of-21 performance from the field including four of five from 3-point land. He made nine of his 11 free throws, and threw in a team-high 12 rebounds just for kicks.

Diggins averaged 12 points a game last season, but that’s going up this season. By the way, Todd Miller holds the Kennedy record with 43 points in a 1991 game.

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“He’s stronger. Physically you just grow each year to year,” said Kennedy Coach Jon McKowen. “But he’s mentally in a better spot (than a year ago). As you can tell, he’s kind of got a pass-first mentality. He’s a senior, so he puts a little more on himself. He doesn’t feel bad about maybe trying to take over a game, asking ‘What’s my role?’ He’s very comfortable with what his role is. And he’s good with the younger kids, always helping them. He’s a different player.”

Kennedy built a 22-10 lead early in the second quarter and never trailed thereafter, though Wahlert was always in it. Peter Timmerman and Craig Collins led the Golden Eagles with 17 points apiece.

Sophomore forward Jack Wetzel added 12 points for Kennedy. Despite being in the Mississippi Valley Conference together, this was a non-league game.

“With this conference, you don’t have time to ease into it or work on anything,” McKowen said. “Defensively, you can’t make mistakes. You can’t beat yourself. We are beating ourselves a lot right now. But we play hard. Good energy, good effort. Mentally, we beat ourselves a bunch. We’ve got to try and get that cleaned up for Thursday (against Linn-Mar).”

AT C.R. KENNEDY

DUBUQUE WAHLERT (56): Jackson Jaeger 2-6 1-2 5, Peter Timmerman 5-17, 7-10 17, Matthew Bandy 5-5 1-2 11, Craig Collins 6-11 0-1 17, Will Leytem 0-1 0-0 0, Jacob Schockemoehl 1-2 2-2 5, Cael Schmitt 0-5 1-2 1, Sam Gruhl 0-0 0-0 0, Isaac Ripley 0-1 0-0 0, Luke Schockemoehl 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-48 12-19 56.

C.R. KENNEDY (68): Keeler Dix 0-0 0-0 0, Jack Wetzel 4-10 4-8 12, Derrick Diggins 14-21 9-11 41, Jackson Foley 1-8 2-2 4, Ki Jenkins 2-7 0-1 4, Ethan Sailer 1-1 0-0 2, Cole Werling 1-1 0-0 2, Grant Griffin 0-5 0-0 0, Michael Watkins 0-1 0-0 0, Benjamin Koester 1-2 0-0 2, Zachary Drahos 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-56 15-22 68.

Halftime — Kennedy 35, Wahlert 28. 3-point goals — Wahlert 6-19 (Jaeger 0-3, Timmerman 0-2, Collins 5-9, Leytem 0-1, J. Schockemoehl 1-1, Schmitt 0-3), Kennedy 5-15 (Wetzel 0-2, Diggins 4-5, Foley 1-4, Jenkins 0-1, Griffin 0-2, Watkins 0-1). Rebounds — Wahlert 37 (Timmerman, Jaeger 8), Kennedy 35 (Diggins 12). Total fouls — Wahlert 20, Kennedy 21. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Wahlert 16, Kennedy 11.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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