Cougars close book on Doser Era

By: Jeff Linder

CEDAR RAPIDS — The curtain came down on Steve Doser's coaching career, at least for now.

Meanwhile, the hopes of a revival and the dreams of a state-tournament berth are alive and well for the Kennedy Cougars.

Cedar Rapids Kennedy put the brakes on a late-season slide, clamping down defensively and eliminating Cedar Rapids Prairie, 46-31, in a Class 5A girls' basketball regional semifinal Saturday night at Kennedy High School.

The Cougars departed their locker room with smiles.

"It's been a few weeks since that happened," said Coach Tony Vis. "It's nice to get a win, and have the opportunity to play Tuesday."

That's when the Cougars (15-7) tangle with No. 10 Muscatine (19-3), a 53-14 victor over Davenport West on Saturday. The victor advances to the state tournament March 3-8 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

"What happened to us (a three-game losing streak to conclude the regular season), it was a mental thing with us," said senior Paige Hendrickson. "A lot of people were super-surprised when we lost those games. But we still have five great players and a great bench.

"When we play 32 minutes, when we're playing positive and playing for each other, we can play with anybody in the state."

The outcome marked the end of a 14-year run at Prairie for Doser, who announced in January that he would step down at the conclusion of the season. Doser compiled a 164-156 record at Prairie with three state-tournament appearances.

"It's hard, knowing this is it," Doser said. "Look at these kids; that's what I'm going to miss. That and these coaches."

The Hawks retired at 6-16, dropping their final 12 games. They hung with the Cougars for 16 1/2 minutes, trailing just 21-17 when Madison Dellamuth connected to open the second-half scoring.

But Kennedy scored the next 11 points to open a 15-point lead, and the cat was out of the bag.

"We had really struggled to put four quarters together lately, but I think we did a better job of it tonight," said Kennedy's Morgan Martin.

Prairie shot 31 percent from the floor and committed 24 turnovers.

Hendrickson led the Cougars with 12 points. Stephanie Botkin tallied 11 and Martin posted 10 points and eight rebounds.

It had been nine days since Kennedy's last game, an overtime loss at Linn-Mar. Vis said the Cougars focused little on X-and-O adjustments.

"We just tried to get back together, get back on the same page and enjoy the game again," he said.

Hendrickson said, "We had some great practices. It was so much more positive."

Dellamuth registered 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists for Prairie.
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