Prep Basketball

Cedar Rapids Kennedy bench comes up big in 71-47 win over Jefferson

CEDAR RAPIDS — Caleb Schlaak did Caleb Schlaak things.

The all-state senior center came pretty darned close to a triple-double Friday night in Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s 71-47 win over Cedar Rapids Jefferson at the Cougars gym.

Schlaak had a game-high 19 points, piled up a game-high 17 rebounds and blocked seven shots. That’s doing work.

But the real reason Kennedy was able to overcome a one-point halftime deficit and win going away was some of the other guys. Specifically some of the bench guys.

“They came up huge,” Schlaak said. “It was really nice having that extra assistance there on offense.”

Jack Schissel had three 3-pointers for Kennedy, including a banker at the third-quarter buzzer from about 30 to feet. Jackson Bowman hit all four of his field-goal attempts for eight points.

Connor Jeffords had seven big points in the first half. Then there Avante Ballinger.

In just his sixth game this season, the senior guard had nine points on three made 3s.

“Avante Ballinger is one of my favorite kids,” said Kennedy Coach Jon McKowen. “He has an amazing attitude every single day. He has the most energy off the bench, he has the most energy in a game, he has the most energy in practice. He has the most energy in school, which is not always liked. But it’s his personality.

“Everybody that knows Avante, loves Avante, and to see him success on the court ... He just kind of grinded it out. He played a little bit of JV earlier this year, and some opportunities opened up for him. He is making the most of it. He has really developed his game to be able to contribute. Everybody in the locker room, they are more happy about Avante’s success from where he came from than they are their own. That’s fun to see.”

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Jefferson (2-13) took a 28-27 lead into the break, but it was all Kennedy in the second half. Back-to-back treys by Schissel and Cole Hrubes gave the Cougars a 38-30 lead, and things only expanded from there.

Kennedy (7-6) has won three in a row.

“Absolutely it’s coming together,” McKowen said. “Not having a lot of preseason, we tried to revamp some things. We skipped over a lot of things that kind of were our core values early in the season. Over Christmas break, we kind of had to stop and start over a little bit. And we’re playing good basketball because of it. Hopefully we never have to do this again, but we learned our lesson. The little things make a big difference. We weren’t doing the little things early. We kind of cut corners to get ready for games fast. We weren’t ready early.”

Carson Blietz had 12 points, Caden Schroeder 11 and Brayden Kindhart 10 for Jefferson (2-13). A whopping 27 of the J-Hawks’ 49 shots came from beyond the arc, though they only made six.

C.R. JEFFERSON (47): Andreas Williams 0-3 0-0 0, Kaden Haller 0-3 0-0 0, Kay’Zure Lewis 2-7 2-3 7, Caden Schroeder 3-9 5-6 11, Carson Blietz 4-12 2-2 12, Brayden Kindhart 3-10 1-2 10, Gunner Myers 0-4 2-2 2, Lonny Melvin 0-0 0-0 0, Dkhai Pope 0-1 0-0 0, Ian Wiederin 0-0 0-0 0, Prosper Kapongo 0-0 2-2 2, Blessing Olutunde 0-0 3-4 3. Totals 12-49 17-21 47.

C.R. KENNEDY (71): Cole Hrubes 2-11 0-0 5, Caleb Schlaak 8-15 3-7 19, Max White 0-1 0-0 0, Colby Dolphin 3-8 3-3 9, Kenzie Reed 1-8 0-0 2, Jackson Bowman 4-4 0-0 8, Jack Schissel 3-3 0-0 9, Connor Jeffords 3-4 1-1 7, Avante Ballinger 3-5 0-0 9, Kade Boeckmann 0-0 0-0 0, Mitchell Schares 1-1 0-0 3, Hayden Klett 0-1 0-0 0, Brenden Linde 0-0 0-1 0, Nathan Koester 0-1 0-0 0 0, Carter Newhouse 0-1 0-0 0, Deven Williams 0-1 0-0 0, Isaiah Morgan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-64 7-122 71.

Halftime — Jefferson 28, Kennedy 27. 3-point goals — Jefferson 6-27 (Haller 0-2, Lewis 1-5, Schroeder 0-4, Blietz 2-8, Kindhart 3-7, Pope 0-1), Kennedy 8-25 (Hrubes 1-6, Schlaak 0-1, Dolphin 0-3, Reed 0-4, Schissel 3-3, Jeffords 0-1, Ballinger 3-4, Schares 1-1, Klett 0-1, Williams 0-1). Rebounds — Jefferson 41 (Haller 6), Kennedy 41 (Schlaak 17). Total fouls — Jefferson 16, Kennedy 19. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Jefferson 19, Kennedy 9.

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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