CEDAR RAPIDS — A recent road trip gave the Cedar Rapids Xavier boys’ basketball team not only some different competition, but a chance to bond.
On Jan. 21, the defending state champion Saints took a four-and-a-half round trip to play a basketball game in Omaha.
The Saints lost the game — 64-49 to Papillian LaVista — but gained experience and have won six of nine games since.
“It provided our players with an opportunity to take a road trip for team bonding and to play one of the best teams in the Midwest,” Coach Ryan Luehrsmann said.
The Saints knew they had a tough battle ahead of them before they left Cedar Rapids, but they did not know the challenges they would face along the way.
“They have two players on their team that are major D-I college basketball prospects, one of which has offers from Creighton, Nebraska and St. John’s,” Luehrsmann said.
Even with these top players, the Saints hung with LaVista until a shaky second quarter they could not bounce back from.
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“We tried extremely hard,” junior Jackson Joens said. “I believe this game was a turning point and will give us a lot of confidence moving forward.”
The Saints followed the loss to LaVista with a loss at Dubuque Senior, then reeled off four straight wins before a 50-47 loss to Cedar Rapids Kennedy. Two more wins followed before last Thursday’s 58-46 loss to Class 4A top-ranked Iowa City West.
Xavier (10-11) opens district action tonight, playing DeWitt Central in the first game of a doubleheader at Mount Vernon. The game tips off at 6:30 p.m., followed by a game between the host Mustangs and Maquoketa.