Linn-Mar boys’ basketball team feeling good as February approaches

Waukee Warriors forward Vance Peiffer (25) reaches out to block Linn-Mar Lions forward Davis Kern (22) as he shoots the ball in the first quarter of the game at Linn-Mar High School in Marion, Iowa on Saturday, December 3, 2022. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)

MARION – January is the worst month of the boys’ and girls’ basketball seasons. Ask any coach.

It’s a slog for players, mundane in so many ways. It’s just one big old blah for virtually everyone.

Once February rolls around, it’s different because teams can see what’s directly in front of them. That’d be the postseason.

It appears Linn-Mar’s boys’ team will roll into February … on a roll. The Lions won their fourth straight game Tuesday night at home, beating Iowa City High, 73-58.

Star sophomore forward Davis Kern had 28 points and 10 rebounds, and fellow sophomore Payson Nietert had 19 points, including five 3-pointers for the Lions (6-7) led from the first quarter on.

But it has been the addition of another player who is making a difference.

“”We’ve just been taking it one day at a time, not looking too far ahead or anything. It’s helped a lot to have Jackson Severson back,” Kern said. “A senior guard we’re real excited to have back after being gone all year.”

Severson broke his right shooting hand late in the football season and is just returning to the court. He finally got cleared to play last week, and put up 21 points in his season debut.

It’s not necessarily just points that he brings. He’s a senior leader on a youthful team.

A security blanket for the Lions, if you will.

“It’s so nice to have Severson back, just from a mental standpoint,” said Linn-Mar Coach Chris Robertson. “You could see the confidence in the guys once they saw that ‘Aw, he’s OK.’ Our turnovers are way down since he’s been out there. He is just a nice, steady influence for us.”

“Just having him, us playing more together, too,” Kern said. “We’re a young team with three sophomores and a couple of juniors. We’re just excited about everything.”

Linn-Mar had a 33-21 halftime lead and extended its advantage in the third quarter to 20 points. City High (5-10) cut that lead to as little as seventh late in the third quarter, but couldn’t get back any closer than that the rest of the way.

Shamar Benton had 17 points and Trey Wright 15 to lead the Little Hawks, who had a rough 24 hours. Their Monday night loss at Fairfield was cut short because of a late-game skirmish between players.

The City High player involved, Evan Lampe, did not play or dress Tuesday night. Head Coach Brennan Swayzer also wasn’t around after being ejected from Monday’s game after what he and the school believed was a racially charged comment from a game official.

Assistant Coach Frederick Newell took over the team Tuesday night.

“What I take out of this game is that our guys played extremely together,” Newell said. “They are going through a tough stretch right now. We’re trying to do our best for our head coach, Brennan Swayzer. We’re proud of our guys.”

———–

AT LINN-MAR

IOWA CITY HIGH (58): Matt Schaeckenbach 1-3 0-0 2, Samuel Mbingazo 5-11 0-0 10, Shamar Benton 6-19 5-6 17, Thomas Ksobiech 3-7 0-0 9, Trey Wright 6-13 1-2 15, Parker Sutherland 1-1 0-0 2, Kris Freeman 0-1 0-0 0, Andre Wright 1-2 0-0 3, Jameer James 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 23-60 6-8 58.

LINN-MAR (73): Davis Kern 9-19 6-6 28, Ian Mindrup 3-5 0-0 6, Owen Olmstead 1-6 0-0 2, Jackson Severson 3-11 0-0 6, Payson Nietert 7-10 0-0 19, Ian Bettis 2-5 0-0 5, Mason Matson 0-2 0-0 0, Owen Havlik 1-3 2-4 5, Matthew Darbouse 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 27-62 8-10 73.

Halftime – Linn-Mar 33, Iowa City High 21. 3-point goals – City High 6-22 (Benton 0-3, Ksobiech 3-5, T. Wright 2-9, A. Wright 1-2, James 0-3), Linn-Mar 11-26 (Kern 4-5, Mindrup 0 -1, Olmstead 0-4, Severson 0-2, Nietert 5-8, Bettis 1-2, Matson 0-2, Havlik 1-2). Rebounds – City High 35 (Benton 12), Linn-Mar 38 (Kern, Mindrup 10). Total fouls – City High 11, Linn-Mar 6. Fouled out – None. Technical foul – Benton. Turnovers – City High 11, Linn-Mar 8.

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