116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — He’s back on the court, he’s fully healthy, he has knocked off the rust of being away for a full year, and he’s doing damage for his Cedar Rapids Prairie boys’ basketball team.
Senior center Gabe Burkle did plenty of that damage thing Tuesday night, scoring 18 points and ripping eight rebounds as the Class 4A seventh-ranked Hawks got past Linn-Mar, 55-49, in a pretty intense Mississippi Valley Conference affair that included three technical fouls.
Prairie Coach Jeremy Rickertsen got T'd up for being too far out of the coaches box after his team was called for a personal foul. You could tell Rickertsen was incredulous about the foul call, though he didn’t say anything to the official.
A little bit later, Prairie’s Jake Walter and Linn-Mar’s Jaxson Young got simultaneous technicals for woofing at each other during a dead ball after Young was called for fouling Walter. Just a little bit of an edge to this game.
Prairie improved to 9-1, Linn-Mar dropped to 5-4.
“Tonight was a prime example of how you’ve got to come ready to play,” Rickertsen said. “I thought our kids did a good job of that tonight.”
One guy, in particular. You might best know the 6-foot-7 Burkle as a recent signee for the Iowa State football program, where he’ll play tight end or possibly offensive line.
But the kid played on Prairie’s varsity hoops team as a freshman and averaged 10-plus points per game as a sophomore. He missed all of his junior basketball season after being injured in a football game last fall and having to have knee surgery.
He was cleared for contact just before this football season began, which means he didn’t get a whole bunch of court time in. Still he showed great footwork making moves in the post and good passing skills hitting teammates out of the post.
“That’s something that we’ve kind of been working on since the start of the season,” Burkle said. “Not just for me, not just for me to score, to lead the team in points. It’s for the entire team. Pass it out, kick outs, re-posts, re-screens, we feel like getting it in the paint first, making the defense sink really opens up the rest of the offense.”
“He was big tonight, and that’s kind of been our mantra,” Rickertsen said. “Go through Gabe. Rather that’s get it to him, and he finds a way to score, or get to him, and he’s very unselfish and does a good job of kind of looking opposite, finding open shooters. I’d say that’s kind of been what we’ve been trying to do all year. Tonight he was kind of able to get around and manueuver in there, made some layups, made some free throws. Yeah, he was great for us.”
Burkle leads Prairie in scoring at 14 points a game, just ahead of the outstanding senior guard tandem of Walter and Elijah Ward. Walter had 15 points here.
“Conditioning wise, footwork-wise, his fundamentals, he’s pretty much on point,” Rickertsen said. “I think he’s kind of finding his shot. He hit a couple of mid-rangers there in the first half, and if he can do that, that just kind of adds to his repertoire. He’s close, really close.”
This game was expectedly close the entire way. Prairie took a 10-9 lead after a quarter and was up two, 25-23, at halftime.
Prairie scored the final four points of the third quarter to grab a 39-35 edge. Linn-Mar got no closer than two the rest of the game.
A Burkle putback of his own miss and a Walter steal and layup gave the Hawks a 49-42 lead with 1:30 left, and that pretty much sealed the deal.
Jackson Severson had 17 points to lead Linn-Mar, which played without starter Jayden Hill. Freshman Davis Kern added 12 points for the Lions and Young 10.
“I think we’re still figuring out a few things, but I think every day at practice and every game, we’ve taken a step forward,” Burkle said. “Even if it’s just a little one. That’s something we’ve really been stressing. I think we took another step forward tonight.”
CEDAR RAPIDS PRAIRIE (55): Reid Burkle 0-1 0-0 0, Gabe Burkle 7-10 4-6 18, Jack Wagemester 0-5 3-4 3, Jake Walter 5-11 3-4 15, Elijah Ward 2-6 0-0 5, Everett Koch 2-3 3-4 8, Brayden Duerksen 0-1 0-0 0, Makelle Taylor 1-4 0-0 2, Dionte Fliss 2-5 0-0 4. Totals 19-46 13-18 55.
LINN-MAR (49): Davis Kern 5-7 0-0 12, Ian Mindrup 2-3 0-0 4, Jackson Severson 5-11 6-10 17, Jaxson Young 2-12 4-7 10, Jack Robertson 1-1 2-2 4, Henry Read 0-0 0-0 0, Ian Bettis 1-2 0-0 2, T.J. Jackson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-37 12-19 49.
Halftime - Prairie 25, Linn-Mar 23. 3-point goals - Prairie 4-16 (G. Burkle 0-1, Wagemester 0-2, Walter 2-6, Ward 1-2, Koch 1-2, Taylor 0-3), Linn-Mar 5-14 (Kern 2-3, Severson 1-3, Young 2-6, Bettis 0-1, Jackson 0-1). Rebounds - Prairie 32 (G. Burkle 8), Linn-Mar 19 (Young 8). Total fouls - Prairie 14, Linn-Mar 17. Technical fouls - Young, Walter, Prairie head coach. Fouled out - None. Turnovers - Prairie 7, Linn-Mar 11.
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