CEDAR RAPIDS – It’s not often you have to roll out of bed and face your rival first thing in the morning.
Cedar Rapids Xavier and Solon found themselves in just such a position Saturday morning at the Wells Fargo Advisors Shootout, with Class 3A No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier (10-3) downing Solon (9-6), 66-54.
“We’re definitely not used to playing 8:30 a.m. games,” said Xavier’s Matt Mims, who finished with 23 points. “But I think we came out ready to go. Most of us play AAU basketball, and you have to get up pretty early for that. So I think we were awake enough to play.”
The Spartans found the basket just a little chilly in the early morning, with a pair of shots bouncing out of the bottom of the net. The frigid rim left the Spartans down 9-2 early, but Solon heated up. Ben Krutzfeldt drilled a trey late in the first quarter to tie the game, 9-9.
“We knew they were going to come prepared and give us their best shot,” said Joens, who led all scorers with 26 points. “We knew we were going to have to play a full 32 minutes.”
Despite a tough overtime loss to Western Dubuque the night before, the Spartans were all in against the top-ranked Saints.
“Last night we were saying, ‘Don’t save anything for tomorrow,’” said Solon’s AJ Coons, who finished with 20 points. “We wanted to win both games.
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“We came out (against Xavier) with a chip on our shoulders and wanted to do everything we could individually to win the game.”
Xavier opened the second half in dominating fashion with a 12-2 run. Xavier hit a short jumper, a 3, and Mims connected on 3-of-4 from the free throw line during that stretch. The Spartans just didn’t have an answer for the remainder of the game.
“I thought in the first half, we were a little lackadaisical, maybe still asleep,” Saints head coach Ryan Luehrsmann said. “We really wanted to focus in on those first three or four possessions. I think that was the difference in the game, the first 4 minutes of the second half.”