MARION – Sometimes basketball really can be all about numbers.
Take Nic Uhlir, for instance. No, you don’t know some of the intangibles about the Linn-Mar junior guard, but his statistics give you a pretty accurate scouting report on his game.
About half of his shots have come from past the arc. His field-goal shooting percentage is exactly seven points higher from 3-point range than it is overall.
So what do you know about him?
“He’s a shooter,” Linn-Mar Coach Chris Robertson said after Uhlir’s long-range marksmanship helped his team past Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 70-64, Tuesday night. “The thing I like about him is that he knows the next one is going in. He misses two or three or four, he’s still going to fire. That’s a strength of his.”
His accuracy was his biggest strength in an entertaining up-and-down game in which neither team was shy about hoisting it from the perimeter. Uhlir scored 30 points, connecting on seven of 12 triple attempts, including one off a timeout with two minutes left that put the Lions (10-6) ahead for good.
As Robertson put it, about as well executed a play as you’ll see. Uhlir came off a high screen toward the top of the arc, hauled in a pass from teammate Jordan Bohannon and splashed it home.
“I just stepped into it and put it in,” Uhlir said. “Definitely felt the touch tonight. Once they’re going in, you know they’re going in. Just keep shooting it. I had some confidence.”
Uhlir had 32 points earlier in the season in an upset win over Southeast Polk, so this wasn’t even a career night. Just a really, really good one.
He had 17 points in the first half to lead Linn-Mar to a 35-22 lead. Kennedy (12-4) ratcheted up its defense in the third quarter to get right back in it, then took its first lead early in the fourth on a Bryton Heisler transition bucket.
The Cougars had a 61-57 lead after a Cole Murdock transition triple with 3:56 left, but Linn-Mar came right back to tie.
“We put ourselves in a bad position,” said Kennedy Coach Jon McKowen. “We talked about it after the game. The first half, we were too passive. We were kind of waiting and watching to see what they were going to do defensively. We didn’t have enough guys attacking the hole. They guarded the perimeter on us a little bit and didn’t allow us to get easy shots … We just didn’t have a rhythm on the offensive side. Then, obviously, defensively we didn’t do a good enough job recognizing the shooter after he hit a couple.”
John Bardsley had a team-high 18 points off the bench for Kennedy, with A.J. Carter chipping in 16. Bohannon had 15 for Linn-Mar, though he took a back seat offensively on this night.
By the way, these teams play again a week from Friday at Kennedy. Should be fun.
“Our guys answered every run,” Robertson said. “They came at us, we stretched (the lead) a little bit. Then they got ahead, and we came back. Proud of the guys. We’re kind of an average team that keeps plugging away, keeps getting better and better. That’s a big win for our kids. I think they should feel happy about that.”
Here is the game boxscore:
C.R. KENNEDY (64): Bryton Heisler 1-4 2-2 4, Drew Heitland 4-7 0-4 8, Cole Murdock 3-11 0-0 9, Zach Daniels 2-9 0-0 5, A.J. Carter 7-14 2-4 16, John Bardsley 7-12 2-2 16, Austin Holzer 1-1 0-0 2, Derek Jacobus 1-3 0-1 2, Brendon Manning 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-61 6-13 64.
LINN-MAR (70): Ben Larson 0-0 2-2 2, Jon Schlotterback 1-4 5-5 7, Lane Halupnik 3-5 0-0 8, Nic Uhlir 11-18 1-1 30, Jordan Bohannon 5-11 4-4 15, Ryan Schmidt 1-1 1-2 3, Trevor Noble 0-2 0-1 0, Jordan Brandt 1-3 1-2 3, Riley Murphy 0-1 0-0 0, Griffin Brennecke 1-3 0-1 2. Totals 23-48 14-18 70.
Halftime - Linn-Mar 35, Kennedy 22. 3-point goals – Kennedy 6-26 (Heisler 0-2, Murdock 3-9, Daniels 1-7, Carter 0-2, Bardsley 2-5, Jacobus 0-1), Linn-Mar 10-23 (Halupnik 2-4, Uhlir 7-12, Bohannon 1-5, Brandt 0-1, Murphy 0-1). Rebounds – Kennedy 31 (Heitland, Carter 8), Linn-Mar 33 (Schlotterback 7). Total fouls - Kennedy 20, Linn-Mar 16. Technical foul - Schlotterback. Fouled out - Daniels, Schlotterback. Turnovers - Kennedy 10, Linn-Mar 12.