116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The first Associated Press Iowa boys’ basketball poll of the season came out late Monday afternoon and roughly four hours later, it was assured there already would be a new No. 1 next week in the biggest class.
That’s because Cedar Rapids Prairie upended top-ranked Johnston, 64-61, in a superb early December game between teams that sure look like they’ll be threats in Class 4A when things get really interesting in February.
Jake Walter had a tying 3-point shot with 2:38 left and followed with a driving baseline runner a few seconds later to put Prairie (2-0) ahead for good, 57-56.
“It’s a big win for us,” said Walter, who led the Hawks with 18 points. “Just because this will give us more confidence going into the tough stretch of the season. I definitely think we should be up there now, showing we could beat the No. 1 team.”
Johnston (2-1) returned its top two scorers from last season, when it made it to the 4A championship game, losing to Waukee. Those returning scorers were guard Trey Lewis and forward Steven Kramer, and they were a handful for Prairie, especially Lewis.
The 5-foot-10 point guard could not be stopped throughout much of the second half when he made a determination he was going to drive to the hoop. He finished with 31 points in the game, 21 in the second half.
Kramer had 13 points but just two in the second half. Prairie had a 33-32 halftime edge, but Johnston a 43-40 advantage after three quarters.
“They’re good, we knew they were going to be good,” Prairie Coach Jeremy Rickertsen said. “I think they are deserving of their ranking. I think our guys just kind of bought into what the game plan was. We knew we couldn’t be in an 80, 85-point game with them. We had to keep it in the 50s and 60s.”
COVID-19 outbreaks created a disjointed 2020-21 season for Prairie. The Hawks finished just 4-9 playing without Gabe Burkle, their center and Iowa State football tight end commit, who didn’t play at all because of a knee injury incurred in football.
He and younger brother Reid Burkle, a sophomore, give Prairie a nice one-two brotherly interior punch. They combined for 20 points and 14 rebounds in this one.
Junior point guard Jack Wagemester was key in this win, too, with a 14-point, four-rebound game that included making 8 of 9 free-throw attempts. His presence allows Walter to work off the ball from time to time.
“We always thought we had a good team, but this just kind of reassures that,” said Wagemester, son of Kirkwood Community College Athletics Director, former men’s basketball coach and now current Prairie assistant coach Doug Wagemester. “We know what we’re capable of. Hopefully we can keep this win streak going. Not take this for granted. Keep it rolling.”
Prairie built as much as a five-point lead in the final minute.
Johnston did have a literal shot to tie when it created a turnover off a Prairie inbound pass from underneath the Hawks bucket with 3.8 seconds left. Lewis gathered a loose ball between the free-throw line and 3-point line, stepped back beyond the arc but saw his shot hit off the heel no good.
“It’s huge. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a huge win,” Rickertsen said. “It’s a good measuring stick for where we’re at. Having so many football guys, I didn’t see very many of these guys in the fall like I typically do. So these first two or three weeks of practice, we’re trying to figure out who’s where, how we’re going to play. It’s kind of a daily thing. Today we took a huge step forward.”
AT CEDAR RAPIDS PRAIRIE
JOHNSTON (61): Steven Kramer 5-10 2-2 13, Jaxsen Cahill 0-3, 1-2 1, Logan Kahre 1-3 0-0 2, Trey Lewis 12-29 3-3 31, Masen Ryan 1-5 0-0 2, Jacob Simpson 0-2 0-0 0, Nathan Ruisch 2-6 3-3 9, Taylen Proctor 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 22-61 9-10 61.
C.R. PRAIRIE (64): Reid Burkle 3-7 0-2 6, Gabe Burkle 3-5 8-9 14, Jack Wagemester 2-3 8-9 14, Jake Walter 6-15 4-6 18, Elijah Ward 1-12 3-4 6, Everett Koch 1-3 1-4 3, Makelle Taylor 0-1 0-0 0, Moses Each 0-0 0-0 0, Brayden Duerksen 1-1 1-2 3. Totals 17-47 25-36 64.
Halftime – Prairie 33, Johnston 32. 3-point goals – Johnston 8-30 (Kramer 1-3, Cahill 0-2, Kahre 0-1, Lewis 4-15, Ryan 0-4, Ruisch 2-4, Proctor 1-2), Prairie 5-16 (R. Burkle 0-1, Wagemester 2-3, Walter 2-5, Ward 1-6, Taylor 0-1). Rebounds – Johnston 33 (Kramer 10), Prairie 34 (R. Burkle 10). Total fouls – Johnston 23, Prairie 12. Fouled out – Simpson. Turnovers – Johnston 11, Prairie 9.
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