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Top-ranked Kennedy stays unbeaten, but it wasn’t easy
Iowa City West led in fourth quarter, but Cougars find a way to post 55-48 win
CEDAR RAPIDS — Not every game is going to be a breeze.
Some nights, shots you’ve made all season just don’t go in, for whatever reason. Some nights, you turn the ball over a little bit more than you’re used to.
But if you can get out of those slog-type of games with a win, especially the ones against a really good opponent, that’s big, that’s all that matters. Survival.
“I mean, it’s always good to just grind out those games,” said Cedar Rapids Kennedy guard Colby Dolphin, after his Class 4A top-ranked team outlasted Iowa City West, 55-48, Tuesday night at Kennedy. “Games where you don’t shoot it very well. They’re a good team, give them credit, they played us very tough tonight. We just grinded out a good win, found a way to win when we’re not playing our best is always a great team win.”
Kennedy (17-0) came into this one having beaten opponents by an average of 39.9 points per game. It came in shooting 40 percent as a team from 3-point range.
This was not one of those games. Kennedy was just 6 of 21 from distance, though it did get a couple of key ones in the fourth quarter.
West’s record of 10-8 might not scare you, but these Trojans are really good now that they’ve gotten Kareem Earl back into the starting lineup. The son of former Iowa Hawkeye star Acie Earl, missed multiple weeks with a back injury, and without him, West lost a pair of games by a point, a pair of games by two points and another by three.
Earl had 17 points here, with Jack McCaffery adding 15.
“I think that this shows we can play with any of the teams in the state,” McCaffery said. “That’s the No. 1 team in the state, and we hung with them, we had them. Just a couple of boneheaded plays down the stretch. We’ve had trouble closing games out. It wasn’t my best game. We got some stops down the stretch, they hit some shots and that was the game.”
West led early in the fourth quarter on an Earl and-one play inside, 36-35. Back-to-back 3s by Carter Newhouse and Dolphin gave Kennedy a 50-42 edge with under three minutes to go, and that was finally ballgame.
Dolphin had a game-high 20 points, with forward Micah Schlaak adding 17. Earl’s exceptional man-to-man defense on all-state point Kenzie Reed held him to just two points.
“They’re playing a lot better, they’ve got Kareem Earl back, who is obviously a huge part of their team,” said Kennedy Coach Jon McKowen. “They’re good defensively, they’re long, they run their stuff really well. So, yeah, I expected it to be a tough night, for sure.”
“We had our chances,” said West Coach Steve Bergman. “We missed a couple of easy inside shots, didn’t box out on a shot after a good stop. Just fundamental stuff. They make you pay for losing your fundamentals.”
Considering he’s got Earl back, and so many of those losses without him were of the one or two-possession variety, Bergman was asked if he likes where his team is trending this late in the regular season.
“It’s really simple. With what we’ve dealt with, I think we’re one of the five or six best teams in the state maybe,” he said. “But we are what we are. Those knuckleheads on the ranking committee, we’ll see what they come up with.”
AT CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY
IOWA CITY WEST (48): Jack McCaffery 5-14 2-2 15, Julian Manson 0-2 2-2 2, Kareem Earl 7-10 1-1 17, Jacob Koch 2-8 0-0 6, TaeVeon Stevens 1-9 0-0 2, Brady Simcox 1-4 0-0 0, Aidan Jacobsen 0-0 0-0 0, Ben Hoefer 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 17-50 5-5 48.
C.R. KENNEDY (55): Cyrus Courtney 3-4 0-0 6, Micah Schlaak 6-12 4-6 17, Carter Newhouse 2-6 0-0 6, Colby Dolphin 7-16 3-3 20, Kenzie Reed 1-5 0-2 2, Trey McKowen 0-2 2-3 2, Landon Deiters 0-0 0-0 0, Trevan Krumrei 0-0 2-2 2, Jace Scott 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 19-46 11-16 55.
Halftime - C.R. Kennedy 23, Iowa City West 20. 3-point goals - Iowa City West 9-24 (McCaffery, 3-8, Earl 2-3, Koch 2-5, Stevens 0-4, Simcox 1-3, Hoefer 1-1). Cedar Rapids Kennedy 6-21 (Schlaak 1-2, Newhouse 2-5, Dolphin 3-9, Reed 0-3, McKowen 0-1, Scott 0-1). Rebounds - Iowa City West 30 (McCaffery 8), C.R. Kennedy 30 (Schlaak 10). Total fouls - West 14, Kennedy 8. Fouled out - None. Turnovers - West 15, Kennedy 10.
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