Boys Basketball: Linn-Mar Lights It Up, Beats Kennedy

By Jeff Johnson and Scott Saville, Reporters

Cedar Rapids Kennedy's Johnathon Koelling struggles for control of a loose ball with Matt Meier (left) and Ryan Schmidt (44) of Linn-Mar during the first half of a game at Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, January 29, 2013. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)

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By Grant Burkhardt

CEDAR RAPIDS — They knew they shot well last night, but the Linn-Mar Lions were taken aback when informed just how well.

“Really?” an incredulous coach Chris Robertson said after his team’s 70-50 win at Cedar Rapids Kennedy.

“Jeepers!” exclaimed Lions wing Matt Lassen.

Yeah, jeepers, indeed.

Linn-Mar made 21 of 30 shots from the field, which comes out to a cool 70 percent. That included 8 of 11 makes from 3-point territory.

Throw in a 20-of-23 performance from the free-throw line, and the Lions connected on 77 percent of all their shots. That’ll win you a lot of basketball games.

“We’re capable of that,” said Lassen. “We’ve got a lot of good shooters on this team, and tonight we shot well. I think it was our movement of the ball. We’ve really worked in practice on geting the ball from one end to the other and back before we can attack and really start dribbling. We have a lot of really good one-on-one offensive players on this team, and our offense is designed to make (use) of that.”

Lassen is known for his perimeter shooting, but was able to penetrate Kennedy’s zone defense and hit a bunch of short and mid-range jumpers in a 20-point night. Forward Jimmy Roth did the same thing and scored 17 points.

Then there were the continual kickout passes for open treys. Linn-Mar (8-8) rolled to a 23-6 lead after a quarter, with this one never in doubt.

“We didn’t miss much,” Roth said. “We’ll take that every time.”

“Helps when you make shots, right?” Robertson said. “Ball movement was the key. We’ve been working so hard on it, but we haven’t gotten it consistently. We’ll do it well for a possession here or a possession there, then we’ll come down and shoot it quick. Tonight was far and away the best we’ve moved the ball. We looked inside, we had some good long possessions. That was as focused and disciplined as our kids have been offensively.”

While Linn-Mar’s arrow is pointing up, with wins in six of its last eight games, Kennedy’s is suddenly way down. The Cougars (9-6) have lost three consecutive games, with coach Bob Fontana still waiting, likely impatiently, for his 300th career victory.

Kennedy hit just 2 of 17 triples in the game, finishing with an astonishingly low 12 rebounds. Guess that’s what happens when the opponent is shooting it lights out.

Blake Murdock had a team-high 19 points.

“I don’t want to discredit them because they hit some 3s, too, but we gave them way too many good looks,” Fontana said. “We were reacting (defensively) too much instead of acting. I think if you’re going to be a quality basketball team, especially during the stretch run, you’ve got to be aggressive, and you’d better be doing the acting and not reacting.”

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