CEDAR RAPIDS — Call it a singularly dominant performance.
Linn-Mar center Alexis Libenguth had a career-high 23 points, six rebounds and five blocked shots Wednesday night as the Lions upset Cedar Rapids Prairie, 53-51, in a Class 5A girls’ regional quarterfinal at Prairie.
“Tonight was just really about being a team and talking on defense,” the 6-foot-3 Libenguth said. “Offense was just a bonus, getting into the post, using our height advantage, and just taking advantage of that on both ends.”
Libenguth accounted for nine early points as Linn-Mar built an 18-13 second-quarter lead. With two fouls she sat the final 3:17 of the half. Prairie forwards Courteney McCrary and Olivia Usher took quick advantage, combining for 10 points to close the half up 23-20.
Down 35-33 to start the fourth quarter, Linn-Mar scored the first 10 points of the quarter to take the lead for good.
Prairie scored seven straight points to close to within a point at 45-44 with 2:07 to go, but Linn-Mar made eight free throws to hold the Hawks at bay. Prairie’s Madison Dellamuth hit a trey at the buzzer for the final margin.
“Big win for our program, big win,” Linn-Mar coach Michael Brandt said. “Prairie’s such an athletic and good team.”
Dellamuth had 15 points for Prairie, which finished at 15-7.
“It’s tough to end, especially with this group,” Prairie coach Steve Doser said.
Linn-Mar (10-12) plays in the regional semifinals Saturday at Cedar Rapids Washington.