Small College Sports

No. 2 Kirkwood women's basketball rounding into championship form again

Kirkwood women extend win streak to 17, while men lose for first time in 15 games

Kirkwood’s Megan Axcell (12) takes a three point shot during a game last season at Johnson Hall in Cedar Rapids. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Kirkwood’s Megan Axcell (12) takes a three point shot during a game last season at Johnson Hall in Cedar Rapids. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The defending national champions are looking the part again.

Four players scored in double figures as second-ranked Kirkwood routed Ellsworth, 78-42, in an Iowa Community College Athletic Conference women’s basketball game Wednesday night at Johnson Hall.

“I think we’re playing really well together,” said Kirkwood sophomore guard Megan Axcell, who made three 3-pointers. “We’re still developing, but we’re getting a lot better.”

The victory was the 17th in a row for Kirkwood (27-3, 13-0), which has already clinched an outright conference title and will close the regular season Saturday at Des Moines Area Community College.

“We’re playing good basketball,” Kirkwood Coach Kim Muhl said. “We played a lot of kids tonight, which was good. We got a lot of rest. Just move forward.”

Axcell, fellow sophomore guard Awal Ajak and freshman reserve Leah Robinson each scored 11 points for the Eagles, while sophomore post Christmas Puok added 10. Robinson led Kirkwood with nine rebounds, while former Cedar Rapids Prairie prep Olivia Usher posted six assets.

Kirkwood will host the postseason district championships for as long as it continues to win. The Eagles will need three wins on March 7, 10 and 11 to defend their national title at the NJCAA national tournament.

“I think we’re going to be in really good shape,” Axcell said. “How we’ve been playing now is going to carry over to next week.”

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The Kirkwood men have national championship aspirations of their own, but were upended in the nightcap by Ellsworth, 81-76, in overtime.

The loss ended a win streak of 14 games for the second-ranked Eagles (22-5, 10-1 ICCAC).

“They came out to play and I think their team did a good job of playing with urgency,” Kirkwood Coach Bryan Petersen said. “We didn’t do a good enough job to match it and broke away from who we are.”

Sophomore guard Chris King led the Eagles with 22 points, while freshman post Doug Wilson added 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Former Cedar Rapids Washington prep LaVeechie Williams had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Ellsworth (15-13, 4-7).

Like the women’s team, the Kirkwood men also had an outright conference crown sewn up before the game. The men will also close the regular season Saturday at DMACC, then have the opportunity to host three district-championship games at Johnson Hall (March 6, 8 and 10).

“This can’t linger, obviously,” Petersen said. “If this were November, December, even mid-January this could really hammer a hole in us. But where we’re at right now, we’ve got to learn from it and get ready to bounce back.”

Women’s basketball

AT JOHNSON HALL

No. 2 Kirkwood 78, Ellsworth 42

ELLSWORTH (42): Tayla Nulty 1-7 0-0 2, Meredith Lincoln 3-8 0-0 7, Emily Ferrier 5-22 3-5 13, Alicia Limones 6-9 0-0 13, Grace Tahahwah 1-10 0-0 2, Cali Viet 1-1 0-0 2, Sydney Nystrom 1-1 0-0 3, Totals 18-58 3-5 42.

KIRKWOOD (78): Tayana Wilson 3-7 0-0 8, Christmas Puok 5-7 0-0 10, Megan Axcell 4-13 0-0 11, Awal Ajak 4-8 0-0 11, Olivia Usher 0-1 1-2 1, Mackenzie Jenkins 3-6 0-0 6, Jahnisha Brown 1-2 0-0 2, Anasha Hurst 1-3 0-0 2, Niaja Taylor 2-4 0-0 4, Leah Robinson 5-10 1-1 11, Haley Mullinnix 0-1 0-0 0, Brianna Mensen 3-6 0-0 7, Arika Wooldridge 2-5 1-1 5, Totals 33-73 3-4 78.

Ellsworth 10 6 13 13—42

Kirkwood 24 12 23 19—78

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Halftime — Kirkwood, 36-16. Three-point goals — Ellsworth 3-18 (Limones 1-1, Nystrom 1-1, Lincoln 1-4, Nulty 0-4, Ferrier 0-4, Tahahwah 0-4), Kirkwood 9-29 (Ajak 3-4, Axcell 3-11, Wilson 2-4, Mensen 1-3, Usher 0-1, Jenkins 0-1, Brown 0-1, Mullinnix 0-1, Taylor 0-1, Hurst 0-2). Rebounds — Ellsworth 31 (Ferrier 9), Kirkwood 46 (Robinson 9). Assists — Ellsworth 6 (Tahahwah 3), Kirkwood 24 (Usher 6). Turnovers — Ellsworth 24, Kirkwood 17. Total fouls — Ellsworth 10, Kirkwood 7. Fouled out — None.

 

Men’s basketball

AT JOHNSON HALL

Ellsworth 81, No. 2 Kirkwood 76 (OT)

ELLSWORTH (81): Jamal Antoine 1-3 6-8 9, LaVeechie Williams 7-17 2-4 16, LJ Harris 6-16 10-12 27, Darius Lasley 3-10 1-1 8, Tristan Forsyth 7-11 2-2 16, Tate Muilenburg 0-2 0-0 0, Josh Donaldson 2-3 1-2 5, Dayton Gooder 0-1 0-0 0, Julius Coates 0-1 0-0 0, Wes Meyer 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 26-64 22-29 81.

KIRKWOOD (76): Ethan Meeker 1-7 0-0 2, Chris King 6-22 8-9 22, Carlo Marble 3-7 2-2 11, Justin Storey 0-1 0-0 0, Doug Wilson 7-10 0-2 14, LJ Stansbury 1-4 6-8 8, Bailey Kale 4-10 2-2 12, Jay Small 1-3 0-0 3, Tajen Ross 0-1 0-0 0, Taejuan Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Kyle Arrington 2-3 0-0 4, Totals 25-69 18-23 76.

Ellsworth 34 35 12—81

Kirkwood 34 35 7—76

Halftime — Tied, 34-34. End of regulation — Tied, 69-69. Three-point goals — Ellsworth 7-19 (Harris 5-8, Antoine 1-2, Lasley 1-5, Forsyth 0-1, Muilenburg 0-1, Donaldson 0-1, Gooder 0-1), Kirkwood 8-34 (Marble 3-7, Kale 2-5, King 2-10, Small 1-3, Arrington 0-1, Storey 0-1, Stansbury 0-2, Meeker 0-5). Rebounds — Ellsworth 41 (Williams 12), Kirkwood 35 (Wilson 10). Assists — Ellsworth 17 (Lasley 7), Kirkwood 11 (Stansbury 4). Turnovers — Ellsworth 13, Kirkwood 14. Total fouls — Ellsworth 23, Kirkwood 25. Fouled out — Forsyth, Muilenburg, Marble.

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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