CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Prairie spent all night trying to catch Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
Once they finally did, you just had that feeling the Hawks were going to win. Which they did.
“The coaching staff was saying that, too,” said Prairie Coach Jeremy Rickertsen, after his team’s 54-45 victory in Cougarland. “It was going to be a methodical game where you were going to have to wear them down.”
It was Harrison Cook’s fortunate bounce on a corner 3-pointer that gave Prairie (1-1) its first lead, in the final minute of the third quarter. A Garrett Pientok back-door layup gave the Hawks a 32-27 advantage going to the fourth, and Kennedy never recovered.
Kris Murray was huge in the second half, hitting a dagger trey for a 44-37 Prairie lead with 2:45 to go, then two ensuing free throws after a steal. He had a game-high 22 points.
He has grown to 6-foot-7, by the way. Twin brother, Keegan, is 6-8.
“The halftime conversation, we talked about attacking,” Kris Murray said. “From the beginning of the game, we felt like we didn’t do that at all in the first half. Their defense definitely bothered us, and we worked at kind of attacking it better. Attack more and not settle as much. I think we did a lot better with that.”
Neither team shot it especially well, as this game slogged along offensively much of the way. Kennedy (1-1) held a 23-18 halftime lead but sputtered to a four-point third quarter that was its doom.
Jack Wetzel had 20 points and nine rebounds for the Cougars, with he and Linn-Mar transfer Tyler Andrews taking 33 of their team’s 48 shots from the field. Kennedy Coach Jon McKowen noted the lack of experience of his club, which has very good length, as does Prairie.
“I just thought we played a little timid,” McKowen said. “We’ve got a lot of new guys playing new positions, so we’re trying to figure it out. You tighten up a little bit in games, but we really got tight, for some reason. It felt like it started in the second quarter. We started off well, got up 11-5, then we got really tight when they made a little bit of a run and struggled looseing back up.”
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Rickertsen, meanwhile, gave plaudits to his point guard, Logan Burg, for being able to penetrate and create much-needed offense for Prairie.
“He was able to break their defense down and get to the hole,” Rickertsen said. “He was able to finish a couple of times, and it also opened up some kickouts. I just thought our defense was a little bit better in the second half, too. Our defense was pretty good in the first half, only giving up 23 points, but I feel like it was better in the second half. We didn’t really change anything, stayed man to man.
“We’ll take the road win, that’s for sure.”
AT C.R. KENNEDY
C.R. PRAIRIE (54): Harrison Cook 2-4 0-0 5, Gabe Burkle 0-2 2-2 2, Keegan Murray 1-5 0-0 3, Kris Murray 7-12 7-10 22, Logan Burg 4-6 1-3 9, Garrett Pientok 2-3 0-2 4, Jonathan Mullins 1-1 1-2 3, Sebastian Simmons 0-2 0-0 0, Johnny Joens 0-1 0-0 0, Max Lampe 0-0 0-2 0, Caleb Miller 2-3 2-2 6. Totals 19-39 13-23 54.
C.R. KENNEDY (45): Jack Wetzel 8-19, Tyler Andrews 3-14 3-5 9, Ben Koester 1-2 0-0 2, Trey Sheets 2-3 2-2 8, Grant Griffin 0-0 0-0 0, Michael Gallagher 0-3 0-0 0, Zach Drahos 1-2 0-0 2, Cole Werling 0-1 0-0 0, Caleb Schlaak 2-4 0-0 4, Tommy Vanek 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-48 6-10 45.
Halftime – Kennedy 23, Prairie 18. 3-point goals – Prairie 3-12 (Cook 1-2, Ke. Murray 1-2, Kr. Murray 1-4, Pientok 0-1, Simmons 0-1, Joens 0-1, Miller 0-1), Kennedy 5-20 (Wetzel 3-10, Andrews, 0-4, Koester 0-1, Sheets 2-3, Gallagher 0-1, Werling 0-1). Rebounds – Prairie 29 (Cook 9), Kennedy 28 (Wetzel 9). Total fouls – Prairie 13, Kennedy 20. Fouled out – Schlaak. Turnovers – Prairie 16, Kennedy 16.
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