The vision of competing in Wells Fargo Arena for the second year in a row is what’s driving the Kennedy boys’ basketball team. After losing in the first round of state during the ‘13-‘14 season, the Cougars are determined to make a second run.
Last year at state Kennedy faced Sioux City North in the first round but lost 75-65.
“I expect nothing less than winning our two sub-state games and making a good run in the state tournament,” senior guard Cole Murdock said.
Kennedy received the second seed and a first round bye for sub-state. In order to make it back to “The Well” the Cougars must defeat Cedar Falls on Friday, Feb. 27 at Kennedy. If they win that, they proceed to play Linn-Mar on Tuesday, March 3 at the U.S. Cellular Center.
“It’ll be a tough road to state,” senior center Brendon Manning said.
Linn-Mar received the one seed and a bye in sub-state. They play the winner of Waterloo West and Marshalltown. Then expected to play the winner of Kennedy and Cedar Falls.
The Cougars continue to improve fundamentals as the regular season winds down.
Murdock believes the team needs to work in sharpening their defense. “We give up way too many points each game,” Murdock said.
At the same time, the players are focused on their strengths. “The offense is where it needs to be, the efficiency and the points per possession are really good. We share the ball well and we have multiple guys that can score each night,” Kennedy head varsity coach Jon McKowen said. “And defense is really close if we continue to attack the ball in the correct way and rotate and use our speed and quickness then were going to have a really good chance to win the sub-state games.”
The Cougars have a new weapon this year, their balance on offense. Seven different players lead the team in scoring, with four of those players scoring 20 plus points in a game.
“Our strength is that everyone on the court has the ability to go off on any given night,” Manning said. “Since the beginning of the year I think we all figured out our roles on the team and what we had to do to win the game.”
With four senior starters, this is their last shot to win a state title.
“They need to just have the confidence in themselves and their teammates,” McKowen, said. “Any time we play, no matter who we play, as long as we play within ourselves and not worry about the distractions off the court we’re going to be fine.”