CEDAR RAPIDS — OK, so Cedar Rapids Washington had to go ahead and take some of the hype away. But tonight’s Linn-Mar/Cedar Rapids Jefferson boys’ basketball game at Jefferson still has to be considered the biggest in the Metro so far this season.
The teams were ranked 2-3 in last week’s Class 4A poll, though Jefferson surely will drop from No. 3 this week after last Friday night’s loss at Washington. The J-Hawks are 14-2, with both losses to the Warriors.
Linn-Mar (16-1) has won 15 straight after an early loss to Bettendorf.
“It’s a big game for both of us in the race for our division (Valley) in our conference,” said Linn-Mar Coach Chris Robertson. “We’ve played pretty consistently these last few weeks. It’s nice because we’ve got some tough games coming up in the last two weeks of the regular season, and that’s what you want heading into the tournaments.”
Linn-Mar’s schedule down the stretch also includes games at Iowa City West and home against Cedar Rapids Kennedy and Cedar Falls. The Lions are fortunate that they have only one regular-season game each against Kennedy, Jefferson and Cedar Falls, probably the three other strongest teams in the Mississippi Valley Conference.
Though you know Jeff would vote for Wash to be included in that list. The Warriors threw junk defenses at the J-Hawks in both games to contain star Jarrod Uthoff.
The 6-foot-8 junior averages 22 points per game and is shooting 56 percent from the field. Jefferson needs someone else to consistently score, which they didn’t get in either Washington game.
“Jarrod Uthoff is, if not the best, one of the best players in the Metro,” Robertson said.
Linn-Mar has two probable Division I recruits in junior wing Matt Bohannon and sophomore point guard Marcus Paige. They lead the Lions in scoring at just over 15 points per game.
Paige is still shooting 60 percent from the field, phenomenal for a point guard. Tipoff tonight will be around 7:45.
Around the hoop
—- Ames broke Linn-Mar’s big-school record for most consecutive victories last week. The Little Cyclones have won 44 straight, surpassing L-M’s previous record of 42, which Cedar Rapids Kennedy ended in 1984.
—- The Waterloo East-Waterloo West game was stopped with 2:42 left last Friday night because of three fan disturbances in the stands at East. The Waterloo Courier said it was unclear if any punches were thrown in the skirmishes, but they were enough for East Athletics Director Brenton Shavers to call the game early, with West leading, 54-42.
—- North Linn head coach Mike Hilmer won his 200th career game last week.
—- Solon has clinched the Wamac Conference’s East Division, the Spartans’ fifth consecutive conference title and the seventh time in 12 years Solon has won a league crown.