Diamonds and Ice

Linn-Mar/Cedar Falls game story

@xReporter default head:
@byline1:<aic:cstyle name =”[No character style]”/>By Jeff Johnson
@byline2:The Gazette
@Body copy justified:DES MOINES [–] Not even the suspension of arguably its best player could stop Linn-Mar[‘]s boys[‘] basketball team from doing what Linn-Mar always does: win its state tournament opener.
The Lions made it 7-for-7 all-time in the quarterfinals with an impressive 64-41 smackdown of Cedar Falls last night at Wells Fargo Arena. That perfect mark includes quarters victories the past six years.
Not only did this blowout come against a team Linn-Mar (22-2) lost to by 11 points at the end of the regular season, it came despite the absence of Nate Hutcheson. The versatile 6-foot-7 senior forward and Western Michigan signee was suspended by the school Tuesday for the rest of the season after it was discovered he hosted a party last weekend that involved alcohol.
[“]Our team really responded well to all the adversity,[“”] said Linn-Mar[‘]s Zach Bohannon, who led the way with 17 points and nine rebounds.
 [“]It[‘]s been tough, but I[‘]m just proud of the guys,[“”] said Linn-Mar Coach Chris Robertson, whose team plays Sioux City East-Bettendorf in the semifinals Friday afternoon at 3:15. [“]Everybody stepped up, everybody contributed, and that was the mindset we had. We knew we had a strong team, and we have a deep team, and we were going to be ready tonight.[“”]
Linn-Mar shot a scorching 57.8 percent from the field, a tribute mostly to great ball movement. The Lions [–] who had 17 assists, five from freshman point guard Marcus Paige and four from Bohannon [–] torched the nets at a 66.7-percent clip in the first half, building a 35-22 halftime lead.
That included 5 of 9 makes from 3-point land, four courtesy of shooting guard Drew Crawford. All 14 of his points came in the first half.
[“]We played in the U.S. Cellular Center a couple of times this year, played up at UNI last year,[“”] Crawford said. [“]So getting to play in the big environments before really helps a lot with your shooting.[“”]
[“]Our team chemistry was really (good) tonight from start to finish,[“”] said Bohannon.
Linn-Mar[‘]s strong defense played a role in the outcome, too. Cedar Falls (16-9) was limited to 37-percent field-goal shooting, 28 in the second half.
Only fine freshman point guard James Harrington got away at all, leading CF with 16 points. Andrew Wirth added 12.
[“]We came out a little slow,[“”] Wirth said. [“]We knew they would come out with a lot of energy considering they were a man down. We didn[‘]t match that.[“”]
[“]I think playing Cedar Falls the last game of the (regular) season, right before substate, was a key thing,[“”] said Bohannon. [“]We knew they were going to be a great team, they were playing great basketball at this time. We knew we had to be focused to get the win.[“”]
Focused they were, despite a difficult last couple of days.
[“]I[‘]m just really proud of our guys,[“”] Robertson said. [“]I thought we were really prepared tonight. I was proud of the way they played and am happy to have two more (games).[“”]

Every Metro boys’ hoops team still alive
Linn-Mar's Nate Hutcheson

Linn-Mar's Nate Hutcheson

As of Thursday night, every Metro boys’ basketball team was still kicking in the postseason. Marion played a 3A district final Thursday night against Williamsburg.

In Class 4A, all six Metro schools and both Iowa City’s schools have advanced into the substate semifinal round. That list will be pared starting Friday, considering there are some head-to-head matchups:

No. 2 Linn-Mar (19-2) hosts Cedar Rapids Xavier (7-14)
Cedar Rapids Washington (15-6) hosts Cedar Rapids Jefferson (11-10)

In other games Friday, No. 4 Cedar Rapids Kennedy (20-1) hosts Waterloo East (11-10). It’s Cedar Rapids Prairie (3-18) playing at sixth-ranked Iowa City High (16-5). Iowa City West (9-12) hosts Burlington (7-15).

It’s the Wash-Jeff winner facing the Linn-Mar/Xavier winner in a substate final at the U.S. Cellular Center on Tuesday night (8 p.m. tip). The City High-Prairie winner plays either West or Burlington in a 6:30 game at The Cell that same night.

Kennedy or East will play the winner of Friday night’s Marshalltown (ranked ninth)-Cedar Falls game in a Tuesday substate final at UNI’s McLeod Center.

So who will emerge out of all this to play in the state tournament in Des Moines in a couple of weeks?