Prep Basketball

With girls' basketball pairings approaching, Xavier makes a strong final impression

'Moving forward,' Saints handle Kennedy, 53-40

Libby Arnold, Cedar Rapids Xavier
Libby Arnold, Cedar Rapids Xavier

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Xavier Saints had one final chance to make a lasting impression before regional pairings are released.

They did all they could. Now, their postseason fate lies with the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union.

Libby Arnold collected 19 points, six rebounds and four steals to lead Class 4A ninth-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier past Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 53-40, in a Mississippi Valley Conference girls’ basketball game Tuesday night at Kennedy High School.

“We’re really starting to jell together again,” Arnold said. “I really think we deserve to host (throughout the regional tournament). I think we’re a strong contender, and I’ve been excited to see what the pairings will look like for the last two weeks.”

The IGHSAU generally splits the top eight teams up for the postseason field, with the top eight earning regional-final home-court advantage. Xavier (14-6, 12-2) is on the bubble for that status with pairings expected Wednesday or Thursday.

Home or away, this much is clear ... even without Caitlynn Daniels, who suffered a knee injury Jan. 31, this remains a dangerous team.

“We can make some noise,” Xavier Coach Tom Lilly said. “We still have a ways to go, but we’re moving forward, and we’re moving in the right direction.”

Xavier owned a 26-20 halftime lead, then stretched it out immediately thereafter.

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The Cougars (9-11, 6-8) were tardy out of the locker room at intermission, then walked on the court and didn’t take any warmup shots. Aree Beckman opened the third quarter with a pair of 3-pointers and the Saints scored the first eight points for a 34-20 advantage.

Sadie Powell’s 3-pointer got Kennedy within 47-40 with 3:57 to go, but the Cougars didn’t score again, and Xavier pulled away for good.

With Daniels out, that forces veterans like Arnold and Aubrey Jones to pick up the slack as leaders, and they played the part Tuesday. With Kennedy on a brief second-half run, Arnold gathered her teammates for a quick talk.

“I just told them to calm down and play our game,” she said.

Beckmann added 12 points (all in the second half), seven rebounds and five assists for the winners. Jones added nine points, and Lexi Turner — a freshman and Daniels’ replacement at point guard — tacked on seven points, three assists and three steals.

Powell scored 15 points to pace Kennedy.

CEDAR RAPIDS XAVIER 53, CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY 40

At C.R. Kennedy

C.R. XAVIER (53): Lexi Turner 2-3 2-2 7, Aree Beckmann 3-6 4-4 12, Aubrey Jones 4-8 1-1 9, Maya Karl 2-4 0-0 4, Libby Arnold 8-13 1-1 19, Brielle Bastian 0-1 0-0 0, Mary Kate Moeder 0-3 2-2 2. Totals 19-38 10-10 53.

C.R. KENNEDY (40): Camryn Ray 0-3 1-2 1, Sophia Barrett 6-17 0-0 12, Olivia Pecinovsky 2-4 0-0 4, Sadie Powell 5-8 4-5 15, Tori Knight 2-5 1-1 6, Carlee Smith 1-1 0-0 2, Ella Cadenhead 0-1 0-0 0, Kyla Holm 0-1 0-0 0, Olivia Herring 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-41 6-8 40.

Halftime: Xavier 26, Kennedy 20. 3-point goals: Xavier 5-10 (Turner 1-1, Beckmann 2-3, Arnold 2-5, Moeder 0-1), Kennedy 2-11 (Barrett 0-2, Pecinovsky 0-1, Powell 1-3, Knight 1-4, Cadenhead 0-1). Team fouls: Xavier 13, Kennedy 11. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: Xavier 27 (Beckmann 7), Kennedy 17 (Ray, Pecinovsky 4). Assists: Xavier 9 (Beckmann 5), Kennedy 6 (Barrett 3). Steals: Xavier 12 (Arnold 4), Kennedy 13 (Ray, Barrett, Pecinovsky 3). Turnovers: Xavier 20, Kennedy 16.

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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