MARION — They got away with one, and they know it. But the Linn-Mar Lions aren’t going to give it back.
A 58-55 win Tuesday night over Cedar Rapids Jefferson might not have been completely deserved, to tell the truth. The J-Hawks were better for the majority of this game.
But uncharacteristically horrible free-throw shooting from Jeff, and a 10-0 late fourth-quarter run helped Linn-Mar get out of Dodge (or Marion, in this case), with a win. A better feeling overall than this past Friday night, when the Lions lost late at Class 4A fifth-ranked Iowa City West.
“We gave one away Friday, we got one given back to us tonight,” said Linn-Mar Coach Chris Robertson. “We were awful, weren’t very good. Our effort wasn’t good. You give up 17 offensive rebounds to a smaller team, that’s not good. We got outhustled, we got outworked, we got outplayed. Somehow we were lucky enough to end up three ahead on the scoreboard at the end of the game.”
Jefferson (4-5, 3-4 in MVC Valley Division) got to the free-throw line 25 times to Linn-Mar’s 9, if that gives you an indication of the more aggressive team. But the J-Hawks made just 11 of those 25 despite coming in ranked third in 4A with a 78.7 make percentage.
“One of those things,” said Jefferson Coach Brandon Horman. “Sometimes oddities happen in basketball, and tonight was one of those. We kept telling them during the game ‘OK, we’re going to win this game at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter,’ because we have excellent free-throw shooters. There is nothing in my mind with that that’s changed.”
Senior wing Jaren Nelson led Linn-Mar (4-4, 4-3) with 14 points and nine rebounds, a key cog on a night when starting forward Hayden Passmore and point guard John Steffen were in constant foul trouble, and leading scorer Trey Hutcheson was a bit off offensively. Passmore’s baseline drive and reverse layup capped Linn-Mar’s crucial late run, giving it a 56-50 lead with 2:22 left.
He also finished with 14 points, Hutcheson 13.
“We look at this week, look at the weeks ahead as one game at a time,” Nelson said. “We definitely want to get a streak going, especially heading into February. That’ll give us the best chance going forward. The talent is there, we’ve just got to get it going.”
Willie Guy had 19 points to lead Jefferson, with Blaze Bouzek and Ozzie Meiborg adding 10 apiece. The J-Hawks had three cracks at shots in the final minute and another two in the final 7.6 seconds but could hit none of them.
Bouzek’s 3-pointer off a set play was blocked by Nelson. Meiborg grabbed the offensive rebound but his desperation heave at the buzzer was blocked by Steffen.
“We played as hard as we could,” Horman said. “We talked about don’t leave anything out there. Don’t feel like you came out of this game thinking you could have done something harder.”
“We’ve got a lot of seniors who have got to figure out what they want their legacy to look like, and how this is going to go,” Robertson said. “If they want to win one, lose one, play .500 and roll the dice at the end, that’s on them. I think they can be pretty good if they get locked in and focus on the right things.”
CEDAR RAPIDS JEFFERSON (55): Dymonte Hawkins 2-3 2-4 6, Raejzuan Shockley 3-5 0-4 6, Willie Guy 7-18 4-5 19, Blaze Bouzek 3-9 1-2 10, Ozzie Meiborg 3-15 2-6 10, Sam Staley 0-2 0-0 0, Brayden Kindhart 0-1 1-2 1, Jackson Snyder 1-2 1-2 3. Totals 19-55 11-25 55.
LINN-MAR (58): Hayden Passmore 7-10 0-0 14, Trey Hutcheson 5-17 2-2 13, John Steffen 2-3 0-2 5, Greg Hall 1-6 0-2 3, Jaren Nelson 5-10 2-3 14, Cam Nelson 1-3 0-0 2, Brady Klahn 2-3 0-0 5, Will Zahradnik 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 24-53 4-9 58.
Halftime — Jefferson 28, Linn-Mar 25. 3-point goals — Jefferson 6-24 (Guy 1-5, Bouzek 3-7, Meiborg 2-10, Staley 0-1, Snyder 0-1), Linn-Mar 6-19 (Hutcheson 1-5, Steffen 1-1, Hall 1-5, J. Nelson 2-6, Klahn 1-2). Rebounds — Jefferson 36 (Hawkins, Shockley 10), Linn-Mar 32 (J. Nelson 9). Total fouls — Jefferson 12, Linn-Mar 19. Fouled out — Passmore. Turnovers — Jefferson 6, Linn-Mar 7.
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