Prep Basketball

Cedar Rapids Prairie sweeps basketball doubleheader against Kennedy

Boys win 54-53 thriller after girls take 60-51 decision

Prairie's Jake Walter (5) works his way around Davenport North's Mahki Jacobs (3) looking toward the hoop during the sec
Prairie’s Jake Walter (5) works his way around Davenport North’s Mahki Jacobs (3) looking toward the hoop during the second quarter of their Class 4A substate semifinal game at Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Jake Walter got around the corner and took it “downhill.”

And at the bottom of that hill was a victory for the Cedar Rapids Prairie boys’ basketball team.

The junior guard came off a double screen and drove between a pair of defenders to score with three seconds remaining, giving the Hawks a 54-53, come-from-behind win over Cedar Rapids Kennedy in a Mississippi Valley Conference game Saturday afternoon at Prairie.

Prairie (1-2) was looking anything like a winner for much of the game, trailing by as many as 12 points in the third quarter before battling back.

“The crazy thing is that they did the same thing right before break at Dubuque Hempstead,” said Prairie Coach Jeremy Rickertsen. “We were down 11 going into the fourth quarter and had a one-point lead.”

Hempstead hit the winning shot on that night. However, Kennedy wasn’t as fortunate as Kenzie Reed’s half-court shot was off the mark at the buzzer.

“Tonight, we were able to get that last shot and were able to hold them off,” Rickertsen said. “It wasn’t pretty by any means, but it was a good team win.”

Prairie’s final possession was a set play for Walter.

“Coach just called the double screen,” Walter said. “I just saw an opening and was able to make the layup.”

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Prairie fell behind early as Reed, who finished with a game-high 19 points, hit five 3-point baskets, four in the first half for Kennedy (3-3).

“We talked at halftime about how we were going under the screens on Reed,” Rickertsen said. “We told them to start going over the screens and our guards did a good job of doubling down on their big guys.”

Jackson Nove paced Prairie with 15 points, Walter added 12 and Caden Stoffer finished with 11. Calab Schlaak joined Reed in double figures for Kennedy finishing with 14.

Girls: Hawks stop Cougars

The roster is loaded with freshmen, six to be exact.

And make no doubt, it is a talented group for the Prairie girls. However, it was an experienced senior who led the way on Saturday.

Natalie Bennett scored 16 points, including three 3-point baskets in a key third quarter run that lifted the Hawks to a 60-51 win over Kennedy in the opener of the doubleheader.

“I thought Bennett came out in the second half and settled in,” said Prairie Coach Josh Bentley. “She hit some good, open shots when we were struggling for a bit. That gave us some confidence and we were able to close it out.”

Prairie (2-1) hasn’t been able to get in much game action due to COVID-19 restrictions. That has made it even tougher for Bentley to build a consistent flow.

“We have a rotation of about nine and six of them are freshmen,” he said. “We’re like a lot of other teams in the state, trying to figure each other. The fact we are so young makes that even more of a challenge.”

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Freshman Catie Reittinger was impressive, finishing with a team-high 18 points. Senior Hailey Cooper added 11.

Kennedy (1-5) was led by sophomore Kaliyah Sain with a game-high 19 points. Sophia Barrett finished with 12 points.

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