Boys Basketball: Linn-Mar Loses To PV, State Streak Ends

By Jeff Johnson and Scott Saville, Reporters

BETTENDORF, Iowa – There it is, everyone else in Iowa. Nine is the number to beat.

Good luck with that.

"I don't think people realize how hard it is to get to state," Linn-Mar guard Matt Lassen said after his team's 54-40 loss last night to Pleasant Valley in a Class 4A substate semifinal. "We had the best player in the state of Iowa to probably ever come through in Marcus Paige, other than maybe Harrison Barnes, and we barely made it last year. It's not easy."

So "the streak" ends for the Lions at a record nine consecutive state tournament appearances.

Time for a little reflection.

"When you do think back, you think of all the great players that we've had come through," said Linn-Mar coach Chris Robertson. "Not just great players, but great kids. Jason Bohannon, where it started, was here tonight watching. Clark Anderson was on that first team, and he's coaching now and got his (Iowa City) Regina girls to state. It just goes right on down the line. Jordan Printy, who's on our coaching staff now, and Grant Gibbs, of course. So it's just been a lot of fun, a special time.

"It had to end sometime. I like our future. We'll see if we can start another streak."

At least it wasn't a last-second buzzer beater that ended "the streak." Pleasant Valley (15-6) led most of the game, pulling away with a 12-0 run late in the third quarter and early in the fourth that gave it a 13-point lead.

The Spartans controlled tempo, regularly working the ball around the perimeter before even looking at the hoop. It was a fine performance for a team without its second-leading scorer (Austin Esters), who suffered a broken fibula last week.

Forward Kain Arthofer picked up the slack and then some with a game-high 22 points.

"We weren't sharp, and I don't know why," Robertson said. "I thought we were really prepared, I thought our scouting report was good ... We just didn't execute. Bottom line."

Especially on the offensive end, where Linn-Mar (13-10) shot a dismal 26 percent, 2 of 24 from 3-point territory. It didn't help that Lassen was ineffective after suffering an ankle injury in practice Thursday, but this was a team issue.

Derik Gogg led the Lions with 11 points. Jimmy Roth had 13 rebounds but scored just eight points on 3-of-12 shooting.

At times, Linn-Mar seemed to settle for long jump shots instead of working it to the interior. When those long jump shots aren't dropping, you're in trouble.

"We just decided we were going to make it hard for them to score," said PV coach Steve Hillman, whose team plays Dubuque Senior on Tuesday for a trip to state. "We haven't done that consistently this year. We've kind of gone up and down the floor a little more. Tonight we just kind of buckled down and were solid on the ball guarding."

"You've got to give them credit, but we didn't play well. I don't know why, but we just didn't play well," Robertson saidl "We didn't shoot it well, we didn't defend as well. We were lucky to be where we were at halftime (down 17-14). We could never get a flow, could never get momentum going. They controlled the tempo, and that made it tough. It just felt like we were playing from behind the entire night."
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