Prep Basketball

Backcourt powers Linn-Mar boys' basketball to new heights against Cedar Rapids Kennedy

Lions score season-high 77 points in 7-point win

MARION — Linn-Mar had been a team struggling to find offense.

The Lions came into Tuesday night’s MVC boys’ basketball showdown with Cedar Rapids Kennedy averaging just 48.8 points a game and riding a three-game losing streak.

Coach Chris Robertson turned to a pair of fearless twins off his bench and an old backcourt hand to end the drought.

Juniors Pearson and Evan Martin contributed seven 3-point baskets off the bench as the Lions built a 15-point fourth quarter lead. Then it was senior John Steffen who took control when the Cougars cut the margin to three in the final minute. He scored 16 of his game-high 23 points in the furious final stanza as Linn-Mar held on for a 77-70 win.

“We scored 77 points and we haven’t done that all year,” Robertson said. “We needed some guys to make some shots and having Evan Martin hit three in a row was big. The guys really played with confidence.”

Linn-Mar (5-6, 3-4) had 26 field goals split evenly from inside and outside the arc and was able to overcome the loss of senior Dylan Decklever, who reinjured a shoulder that was already heavily braced while battling for a rebound in the second half.

“I feel bad for him,” Robertson said. “That is just something he is going to have to battle the rest of the year.”

With Decklever out, Evan Martin stepped up. His third-straight triple gave the Lions a 60-45 lead with 5:37 remaining.

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“We knew Kennedy wouldn’t quit,” Steffen said. “They always play hard. This is a rivalry game for both of us.”

Coach Jon McKowen’s Cougars (7-5, 5-3) kept up the pressure. A 3-point basket from freshman Kenzie Reed cut the deficit to 68-65 with 1:25 remaining.

However, the Cougars would get no closer. Steffen was a perfect 10-for-10 from the foul line in the fourth quarter and sealed the game with four of those in the final 45 seconds.

“I’ve always been confident from the free throw line,” he said. “I really wanted the ball in the fourth quarter. I’ve been around a little longer than most of the guys so it falls on my back to do that.”

Brady Klahn had 18 points for the Lions, including four 3-pointers. Evan Martin finished with 12 and Decklever had 10 before leaving with his injury.

Calab Schlaak led the Cougars with 21 points. Reed finshed with 14 and Brandtley Koske had 11.

On Friday, Kennedy hosts Prairie while Linn-Mar travels to Xavier.

LINN-MAR 77, CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY 70

C.R. KENNEDY (70): Paul Cory 2 2-2 7, Caleb Schlaak 9 3-4 21, Josh White 0 0-0 0, Brandtley Koske 4 3-4 11, Kenzie Reed 5 0-0 14, Braden Dolphin 1 2-4 5, Cole Hrubes 0 0-0 0, Max White 0 0-0 0, Makhi Harris 5 0-0 12. Totals 26 10-14 70.

LINN-MAR (77): Will Zahradnik 3 0-0 6, Cam Guenther 0 0-0 0, Brady Klahn 6 2-4 18, Dylan Decklever 4 0-0 10, John Steffen 6 10-10-23, Luke Passmore 0 0-0 0, Pearson Martin 3 0-0 8, Evan Martin 4 0-1 12, Andrew Knipper 0 0-0 0. Totals 26 12-15 77.

Halftime — Linn-Mar 28, Kennedy 27. 3-point goals — Kennedy 8 (Cory 1, Dolphin 1, Reed 4, Harris 2), Linn-Mar 13 (Steffen 1, Decklever 2, Klahn 4, P. Martin 2, E. Martin 4 ). Total fouls — Kennedy 18, Linn-Mar 15 Fouled out — Dolphin. Technical fouls — none.

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