CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn-Mar led Cedar Rapids Xavier by three points after the first quarter Friday night.
The crowd on both sides of a packed Ron Thillen Gymnasium was super charged. It was an electric atmosphere, one usually reserved for the postseason.
Then the second quarter began, and Jackson Joens hit a 3-pointer for the Saints. Matt Mims followed with an and-one three-point play, Joens hit another trey, and another.
So much for what you thought would be a great finish. The rout was on, suddenly and unexpectedly.
“I just think we settled in more,” Mims said, after Class 3A top-ranked Xavier blew past 4A No. 7 Linn-Mar, 60-39. “We really picked it up on the defensive end. We knew we had to rebound better after that first quarter, and we rebounded a lot better in the second. We just really picked it up overall, and I guess it showed.”
Boy, howdy, it did. Xavier outscored Linn-Mar by a 28-5 margin in that decisive second.
That kind of play will win you a lot of games. It sure did this one.
“I really think the key to that stretch was our defensive energy,” said Xavier Coach Ryan Luehrsmann. “We got out, got our hands on some balls, got some deflections that led to some baskets, or at least some runouts where we got some open looks. Our two best players stepped up and make big shots at that time and kind of separated it.”
Mims, the South Dakota State signee, continued his great start to the season, finishing with a game-high 27 points and seven rebounds. There’s little the 6-foot senior point guard didn’t do.
He penetrated, he scored, he shot, he distributed, he D-ed up, he led. Joens added 13 points for the Saints.
It’s what you’ve come to expect from those two guys in big games.
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“We’re playing really well,” Mims said. “I think last year we learned we can’t get off to a slow start. We have just really picked up the intensity early in the year, and that is helping us.”
Xavier is 3-0 and playing at a very high level. Linn-Mar (2-1) played at a high level in its first two games, but this was a setback.
The Lions couldn’t get many open looks and didn’t make them when they got them, shooting only 28 percent. Wonderful 6-foot-6 junior Trey Hutcheson averaged 27 points in his team’s first two games but never got untracked, finishing with just five.
“We weren’t good, but I guess they had a lot to do with that,” said Linn-Mar Coach Chris Robertson. “We weren’t very locked in mentally at the beginning, and that’s where it got away from us. You let Joens have some open looks, which you can’t do. We put Mims at the foul line a ton. We didn’t play very good offense, either, and that was a little them, but I thought more us. We need to handle that situation better. They’ve played big games, they’ve been in those situations and handled that better than we did.”
Mims and Luehrsmann tipped their respective caps to Quinn Schulte for his ability to guard Hutcheson. Schulte didn’t score a point but was all over a guy five inches taller than him.
“Quinn, he’s a juggernaut on defense. I’m really proud of him,” Mims said. “He works his tail off on anything he does, and it shows in each sport.”
“Just an athlete and a competitor,” Luehrsmann said. “You wouldn’t know if we won the game, seeing him in the locker room, and you wouldn’t know if we lost it. He’s just the same way all the time, Steady Eddie.”
Sophomore guard Jacob Beckmann also played a role in Xavier’s second-quarter surge, hitting a pair of 3s and ending with 11 points off the bench. Jacob Robertson, the coach’s son, led Linn-Mar with 10 points.
“We just move the ball, and whoever is open, just shoot it,” Beckmann said.
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“I told our guys that we’re three games in, and there’s a long time to go,” Coach Robertson said. “We just weren’t very good tonight. So you move on. This shows we’ve got a long way to go (as a team). I think our guys will stay together, they’ll stay up. We’ve just got to get back at it.”
AT C.R. XAVIER
LINN-MAR (39): Jaren Nelson 0-4 3-3 3, Trey Hutcheson 2-12 1-2 5, Nate Annis 0-2 0-0 0, Jacob Robertson 3-8 2-3 10, Nolan Ruff 2-7 1-2 5, Jack Gertsen 4-5 0-0 8, Cole Martin 1-2 0-0 2, Greg Hall 1-5 0-0 3, Hayden Passmore 0-2 1-2 1, Cam Nelson 1-2 0-0 2, Tyler Oberbroeckling 0-1 0-0 0, Garrett Friday 0-0 0-0 0, Eli Havlik 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-50 8-12 39.
C.R. XAVIER (60): Jackson Joens 5-10 0-0 13, Aaron Bartels 0-0 0-1 0, Quinn Schulte 0-4 0-0 0, Matt Mims 9-15 5-9 27, Gabe Lux 1-2 2-2 5, Matt Jordebrek 1-4 0-2 2, Kyle Moeder 0-1 0-0 0, Matt Ropp 0-1 0-0 0, Bryson Bastian 0-0 0-0 0, Davis Wagner 1-1 0-2 2, Jacob Hines 0-0 0-0 0, Jack Scott 0-0 0-0 0, Ryan Keating 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-42 8-18 60.
Halftime — Xavier 37, Linn-Mar 17. 3-point goals — Linn-Mar 3-15 (J. Nelson 0-2, Hutcheson 0-5, Robertson 2-5, Hall 1-3), Xavier 10-18 (Joens 3-5, Mims 4-7, Lux 1-2, Beckmann 2-2, Moeder 0-1, Ropp 0-1). Rebounds — Linn-Mar 28 (Hutcheson 6), Xavier 34 (Mims 7). Total fouls — Linn-Mar 17, Xavier 17. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Linn-Mar 7, Xavier 11.
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