Prep Basketball

Linn-Mar beats Waterloo East to advance in boys' basketball postseason

Lions will face Cedar Falls in substate finals

Linn-Mar boys' basketball coach Chris Robertson. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Linn-Mar boys' basketball coach Chris Robertson. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

MARION — State tournament trips used to be the norm for the Linn-Mar boys’ basketball program.

For nine straight seasons from 2004-2012, the Lions were among the final eight in Des Moines. They haven’t been there since, losing in a substate final four of the last five years.

“And they were all one-possession games,” said Linn-Mar Coach Chris Robertson.

Once again, Linn-Mar had a chance to get back to Wells Fargo Arena. Senior Trey Hutcheson scored 24 points, including 18 of 21 from the foul line, leading Linn-Mar to a 64-50 victory over Waterloo East in the Substate 3 semifinal Friday night at Linn-Mar.

Robertson’s Lions (15-5) will play No. 7 Cedar Falls (17-3) at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the U.S. Cellular Center for a trip to state.

Twice the Lions built double-digit leads in the second half only to see East close within four both times. The plan to combat the runs was simple.

Get the ball to Hutcheson near the basket.

“All week in practice the coaches really told us to pound it inside,” Hutcheson said. “We just had to recognize how to beat (their pressure) and calm down. Once we figured out how to beat it, we were OK.”

Jaren Nelson got the Lions off to a good start, scoring nine of his 16 points in the first quarter. East rode the shooting of guards Tyrese Nickelson and Ramir Scott to claw back into the game. Nickelson, a senior, finished with 24 and Scott added 15.

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“Their guards, especially Nickelson, were tremendous,” Robertson said. “We knew they would be a great challenge for us.”

Now the Lions will meet a Cedar Falls team they defeated 66-62 in the regular season.

“We had a great run of getting to state, but it was never easy,” Robertson said. “We’s been close, but we haven’t been back in awhile. These guys are capable, so we’ll see what happens.”

Hutcheson had a huge game in last year’s substate final, scoring 35 points in a 58-55 loss to Muscatine. He is anxious to be heading back to the U.S. Cellular Center.

“This is what we’ve been shooting for,” he said. “Now we just have to go out and play our game.”

WATERLOO EAST (50): Tyrese Nickelson 8 4-6 24, Ramir Scott 5 1-2 15, Ramon Harrington 0 0-2 0, Tavious Jenkins 2 2-2 6, Trevion Labeaux 2 1-2 5, DJ Holmes 0 0-0 0, Davon Huggins 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 8-14 50.

LINN-MAR (64): Jaren Nelson 5 3-4 16, Greg Hall 2 0-0 5, Trey Hutcheson 3 18-21 24, John Steffen 3 3-3 9, Hayden Passmore 1 0-1 2, Cam Nelson 1 2-2 5, Will Zahradnik 0 0-0 0, Brady Klahn 1 0-0 3. Totals: 16 26-31 64.

Halftime — Linn-Mar 36, Waterloo East 27. 3-point goals — Waterloo East 8 (Nickelson 4, Scott 4), Linn-Mar 6 (J. Nelson 3, Hall 1, C. Nelson 1, Klahn 1). Total fouls — Waterloo East 19, Linn-Mar 11. Fouled out — Nickelson. Technical fouls: none.

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