CEDAR RAPIDS — There are 16 teams now in the Mississippi Valley Conference. As we head to the holiday break, only one has not suffered a conference loss.
You’re the winner if you predicted Cedar Rapids Prairie to be the big winner. The Hawks are your lone MVC unbeaten heading to 2019 after they eased past Cedar Rapids Washington 79-65 Friday night on the far southwest side of town.
“No, I wouldn’t have been shocked to hear that at the beginning of the season, except maybe that we’re the only ones,” said Prairie Coach Jeremy Rickertsen. “I knew we had the potential to win some games.”
Prairie is 5-0 in the league and 6-1 overall. It dropped its season opener at Class 4A top-ranked North Scott, but, maybe, just maybe, that was a good thing.
“I thought it was,” said Prairie’s Kris Murray, who led his team with 19 points. “That was a game we should have won. But it helped us prepare for what came after it. It’s good to win six in a row. That’s what we wanted. We’re trying to win 20-plus games this year. That’s our goal, and I think we can do that.”
Prairie has length, can play fast, shoot the 3-pointer and drive it. There’s not much else you need.
Murray and his twin brother, Keegan, have gotten taller (Keegan is 6-foot-8, Kris 6-7) and stronger and seem to be emerging into legit Division-I college players. Keegan Murray complemented Kris here with 15 points.
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Harrison Cook provides Prairie a springy 6-5 presence, Logan Burg a gritty, gutty point guard. Freshman center Gabe Burkle has beef at 6-7.
Then there was the bench Friday night. It had 22 points, 15 from 6-5 forward Garrett Pientok. He made all seven of his field-goal attempts and his lone free throw.
“I think our best basketball is ahead of us,” Rickertsen said. “But, as a whole, if you’re asking me, I’m happy with where we’re at. I’m happy with the guys’ effort. We have been better defensively than we were last year, which has been a key.”
Rickertsen challenged his guys to start fast, and, boy, did they. Prairie built a 24-9 lead after the first quarter, and it was a 43-28 game at halftime.
Washington (3-4, 1-4) was coming off a soul-crushing, one-point loss Tuesday night at fifth-ranked Iowa City West, a game the Warriors rallied from 16 points down in the third quarter to lead by eight with a minute left. A stolen inbounds pass and layup with two seconds left gave West the win.
Chandlir Haug, playing his first game of the season because of injury, led Wash with 19 points and nine rebounds off the bench.
“We had that West game in so many ways, and that doesn’t come around too often,” said Washington Coach Justin Decker. “We were at such a high point with the energy level with the team, and to have something fall apart at the end, being eight points up with a minute to go and have it all blow up in your face, that’s tough. We had two days of not very good practice after that, and the energy level tonight wasn’t there. Then you’re playing a top two or three team in the state.”
AT CEDAR RAPIDS PRAIRIE
C.R. WASHINGTON (65): Jamar Thurmon 2-6 0-1 4, Mick McCurry 3-9 7-8 13, Joe McKinstry 4-7 0-0 11, Imanuel Rowland 1-6 3-4 4, Ross Snitker 4-13 4-5 12, Campbell Mitvalsky 1-6 0-0 2, Chandlir Haug 8-12 3-7 19, Brayden Wright 0-1 0-0 0, Kaden Bowie 0-0 0-0 0, Riley Pankey 0-0 0-0 0, Jackson Kramer 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-61 16-25 65.
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C.R. PRAIRIE (79): Harrison Cook 3-8 2-2 9, Keegan Murray 3-7 8-10 15, Kris Murray 7-11 2-4 18, Logan Burg 3-4 2-2 8, Gabe Burkle 3-5 1-2 7, Max Lampe 2-2 1-1 5, Garrett Pientok 7-7 1-1 15, Jonathan Mullins 0-1 0-0 0, Caleb Miller 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 29-46 17-22 79.
Halftime — Prairie 43, Washington 28. 3-point goals — Washington 3-15 (McCurry 0-2, McKinstry 3-6, Rowland 0-2, Snitker 0-4, Wright 0-1), Prairie 4-9 (Cook 1-3, Ke. Murray 1-2, Kr. Murray 2-4). Rebounds — Washington 27 (Haug 9), Prairie 33 (Kr. Murray 6). Total fouls — Washington 20, Prairie 20. Fouled out — Ke. Murray. Turnovers — Washington 7, Prairie 14.
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