MARION – He has accomplished so much in his prep basketball coaching career, you would think Chris Robertson would have run out of firsts a long time ago. But he actually found one Saturday night.
Not a good one.
The Linn-Mar boss was ejected from his team’s 45-42 loss to Bettendorf after receiving a pair of technical fouls in the third quarter. Robertson argued a goaltending call that went against his team, drawing his first tech, then continued sniping at the officials to get another one.
Dylan Sortillo made four free throws and Kendal Jacks hit a jumper to make it a six-point possession that put Bettendorf (2-0) up nine points and essentially over the top. Linn-Mar came close but never fully climbed out of that hole.
“I made a mistake. It’s on me,” Robertson said. “I tell the guys before the game not to lose their cool, but I lost mine a little bit. I didn’t agree with the goaltending call, and there were a couple of charges I thought were questionable. But after I got the first one, I should have shut my mouth and sat down, and I didn’t do that. They weren’t wrong in giving me two. I made a mistake, and I’ll have to live with it.”
Robertson never got any updates on the remainder of the game, not knowing who won until his team got back to the locker room. Linn-Mar pulled within a point, 43-42, with two minutes left and had two chances to tie in the final seconds.
Sophomore Nic Uhlir airballed a 3-pointer from out top at the buzzer. Matt Lassen previously had a trey from the top of the arc go in and out with about 10 seconds left.
“I thought it was in,” Lassen said. “I haven’t had a shot feel better in a long time. It felt good, but, unfortunately, it bounced out.”
Lassen was asked what he thought when he watched his coach walk across the floor and to the locker room after being ejected.
“It’s tough, but it’s nice to see him stick up for us like that. It shows that he cares,” said Lassen, the only Lion in double figures with 12 points. “We have a great staff top to bottom, so I knew we were in good hands. I just brought the guys together and said ‘We’re going to do this one for Coach.’ Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win.”
Linn-Mar played again without starting forward Jimmy Roth, an Upper Iowa signee, who will miss two more games because of a suspension for violating team/school rules. Now it’ll play its next game Friday night against Cedar Rapids Jefferson without its coach, who has to sit out one game because of his ejection.
The Lions are definitely a work in progress, trying to overcome the significant graduation loss of Marcus Paige, the Metro’s all-time leading scorer for a career and North Carolina’s starting point guard. Two sophomores and a freshman saw big minutes Saturday night, including ninth-grader Jordan Bohannon, who started at the point.
His three older brothers (Jason, Zach, Matt) starred at Linn-Mar and have or are still playing Division I college basketball.
“I love the way this team competes,” Robertson said. “Practices are outstanding. We don’t have a Marcus, but we’ve got a whole bunch of guys who are really, really close. I told them our lineup might change from game to game, week to week, just because everybody is so even.”
Cole Clearman had 16 points to lead Bettendorf, with Sortillo adding 14. The Bulldogs went 2-0 over the weekend against the Metro, including a win Friday night over Cedar Rapids Washington.
“We did a good job executing there in the third quarter and did some nice things,” Bettendorf Coach Curtis Clark said. “(The technical fouls) certainly helped, but as far as a turning point in this game, I’m not really sure.”
BETTENDORF (45): Ryan Tubbs 1-2 2-2 4, Kendal Jacks 3-6 0-0 7, Kris Klabunde 0-1 0-0 0, Dylan Sortillo 5-16 4-4 14, Cole Clearman 7-18 3-4 16, Nicholas Baer 0-5 3-4 3, Tanner Reid 0-3 1-2 1, Kyle Buhman 0-0 0-0 0, Nick Scott 0-1 0-0 0, Michael Lintz 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-52 10-13 45.
LINN-MAR (42): Jon Schlotterback 3-3 0-0 7, Matt Lassen 5-12 0-0 12, Derik Gogg 2-3 5-10 9, Jordan Bohannon 0-3 0-0 0, Zach Martins 1-4 0-0 2, Nic Uhlir 2-5 0-0 6, Ryan Schmidt 0-3 2-5 2, Matt Meier 2-6 0-1 4, Ben Larson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-39 7-16 42.
Halftime – Linn-Mar 25, Bettendorf 21. 3-point goals – Bettendorf 3-18 (Tubbs 0-1, Jacks 1-2, Sortillo 0-3, Clearman 2-9, Reid 0-2, Scott 0-1), Linn-Mar 5-20 (Schlotterback 1-1, Lassen 2-6, Bohannon 0-3, Martins 0-2, Uhlir 2-5, Meier 0-3). Rebounds – Bettendorf 34 (Tubbs, Jacks 8), Linn-Mar 25 (Gogg 6). Total fouls – Bettendorf 17, Linn-Mar 16. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – Linn-Mar Coach Robertson 2. Ejection – Linn-Mar Coach Robertson. Turnovers – Bettendorf 10, Linn-Mar 16.