Boys Basketball: Koelling's Double-Double Lifts Kennedy Past Xavier
By Jeff Johnson and Scott Saville, Reporters
CEDAR RAPIDS Will Johnathon Koelling go back into Cedar Rapids Kennedy's starting lineup?
"More than likely," Kennedy Coach Bob Fontana said with a sly smile.
There's not much else the 6-foot-4 senior forward can do to get there. He was simply outstanding last night in a 44-41 win over Cedar Rapids Xavier in the Kennedy gym, the player of the game by far with a double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds.
His cut through the lane for a basket with under two minutes left stemmed a Xavier rally, then his two free throws with 14.7 seconds to go cinched Kennedy's third win in a row.
Add how generally active he was and the nice job he did helping defensively on 6-foot-8 Xavier center Matt Nelson (who a South Dakota State coach was there scouting) and this was an all-around stupendous effort.
"Coach was talking to me all week about Nelson, saying how he's big and he's strong and 'I don't know if you can guard him,'" Koelling said. "Trying to motivate me. It worked, obviously. I'm proud of myself for playing how I did."
Koelling was averaging 8.7 points, so it's not like he as a slouch. He started the first five games but has gone in off the bench for the last three. They've all been wins, so perhaps Fontana will play the superstition card and keep him there.
"I just think he's come back to being himself, playing like he did the first four games of the season," Fontana said. "He's a very athletic kid, and he ran the floor very well tonight. He went to the boards well."
Xavier (6-4) led 9-6 lead after a quarter, but Kennedy (6-2) got untracked offensively in the second to take the lead for good. Naturally, it was a Koelling hoop with 1:03 left that put the Cougars on top for the first time, 16-15.
Xavier shot 50 percent from the field but offset that by turning it over 16 times, 10 in the first half. Trey Sampson had 16 points for the Saints and Nelson 10.
Kennedy has rebounded well from a surprising loss before Christmas that ended a 26-game losing streak for Cedar Rapids Washington. Practices over break were so intense that Cougars Riley Fergus and Zach Daniels got injured and haven't played since.
"That's how hard we were going," Koelling said.
"You know what, I think that loss was a good wakeup call," Fontana said.