MARION — Linn-Mar’s Hayden Passmore doesn’t get the noteriety afforded teammate Trey Hutcheson.
However, the 6-foot-5 senior is beginning to open some eyes with his aggressive play around the basket.
As Hutcheson struggled in the first half of Friday’s Mississippi Valley Conference game with Cedar Rapids Xavier, scoring just a single point, Passmore was a presence inside on offense and defense as the Lions trailed 23-20 at the break.
The second half belonged to both Lion big men as they rallied to build an 11-point lead before holding on for a 54-47 win before a large crowd on Hall of Fame Night at the Linn-Mar gym.
Passmore’s play fits in with the role he has established for Linn-Mar.
“He’s been our glue all season,” Robertson said in reference to Passmore. “He does so many things that people don’t notice. He can guard a perimeter guy, he can guard the post and is always grabbing offensive rebounds. He is playing with so much confidence and is playing a big role for us.”
The Lions (5-4, 5-3) wanted to get Passmore involved right from the start against the Saints.
“The first play of the game was designed for me to get the ball in the post,” he said. “They wanted me to take the ball to the hole. We knew with (Quinn) Schulte playing Hutch really hard that we had to have somebody else come in there and try to get us going.”
Early on, Xavier had command, leading by as many nine in the second quarter. That didn’t sit well with Robertson and the Lion coaching staff.
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“We challenged them pretty good at halftime,” Robertson said. “We let them dictate the pace. I got on Trey a little bit at halftime and told him we were going to come to him and we did and he came through.”
Hutcheson had a pair of thunderous dunks in the third quarter as the Lions took a 31-30 lead entering the final quarter and had some thinking back to the Lions’ epic 79-74 five-overtime win at Xavier on Dec. 7.
“We wanted to finish this one in four,” Passmore said with a grin.
And finish the Lions did. Jaren Nelson hit a 3-point shot to open the fourth quarter and Linn-Mar never looked back.
Passmore and Hutcheson finished with 12 points apiece to lead the Lions. Nelson added 11. Jaylon Moses led the Saints (4-6, 2-6) with 12 points off the bench. Schulte chipped in with 11 points.
Linn-Mar is back in action Saturday night with a nonconference game against Cedar Rapids Kennedy at the U.S. Cellular Center. Xavier hosts Waterloo West on Tuesday night.