No. 1 Linn-Mar escapes Xavier, 34-31

 By Jeff Linder

The Gazette

DES MOINES — It was a grind.

Seriously, though, who would have expected anything else?

Cedar Rapids Xavier took top-ranked Linn-Mar to the wire, something nobody had done all season, before the Lions escaped, 34-31, in a Class 4A quarterfinal at the girls’ state basketball tournament Wednesday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena.

“We knew it was going to be a battle,” said Linn-Mar all-state guard Jaime Printy. “They always come ready to play.”

Linn-Mar (24-0) led the entire second half, but never by more than five points.

Printy made two free throws with 25 seconds left to give the Lions a three-point lead.

Colleen Bouchard missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the game. Xavier’s Shea Bartz rebounded, but Morgan Terpstra intercepted a pass on the perimeter and was fouled with 3 seconds left.

“I just saw the ball and had so much energy,” Terpstra said.

She missed the front end of the one-and-one. Xavier’s Caitlin Kray rebounded, raced downcourt and missed a desperation 35-footer at the buzzer.

Linn-Mar will face either No. 4 Ames  or No. 5 Ankeny in a semifinal at 1:30 Friday afternoon.

Wednesday’s victory was the Lions’ third this season against the 13th-ranked Saints, who retired at 15-9. None of them were easy.

Only five times has Linn-Mar won by less than 15 points. Three of those occasions came against Xavier.

“I don’t know if it’s tougher to get hammered by 30 or to lose like this when you give yourself a legitimate chance,” said Xavier Coach Tom Lilly.

Yes, the Saints did have a legitimate chance. They outrebounded the Lions. They defended. They did everything they needed to do to win. Except shoot.

Xavier was 9 of 45 from the field.

“We played a good game and played them tough, but we didn’t capitalize on the opportunities we had at the end,” Bouchard said.

The Saints worked to a 9-4 lead after one quarter before Linn-Mar played its best stretch of the game, scoring eight straight points to take the lead. It was 16-15 at halftime.

It stayed that way through more than 5 1/2 minutes of the third quarter as both teams went cold. Xavier shot 1 of 14 in the third quarter, Linn-Mar 2 of 10.

Four times in the fourth quarter, the Lions built a five-point lead. The last time was on a drive by D.J. Norman that made it 30-25 with 3:58 to go.

Xavier got within 30-29 and 32-31, but couldn’t complete the comeback — or the upset.

“No doubt, I expected this to be as tough as it was,” said Linn-Mar Coach Mike Brandt. “Xavier’s a very physical team, and they didn’t give us many wide-open looks.”

Printy led all scorers with 11 points, but made only 3 of 14 shots from the field. The state’s leading free throw shooter, Printy was 5 of 6 from the line, dropping her season rate to 92.3 percent.

Norman added eight points. Kiah Stokes had four points and 10 rebounds. She blocked eight shots, just one fewer than the number of Xavier attempts that succeeded.

Bouchard and Kray had seven points apiece for Xavier.


One Response to “No. 1 Linn-Mar escapes Xavier, 34-31”

  1. No. 1 Linn-Mar escapes Xavier, 34-31 | Says:

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