Saints hit their stride


Matt Mims plays defense against Waterloo West in a game on December 12. Camryn McPherson Photo.

Will Hanigan, Sports Writer

Just like a runner takes a few steps to reach top speed, a team often takes a while to start playing at its optimal level. This is certainly true of the Xavier Saints boys’ basketball team, who after a bumpy start to their season, seem to be close to playing their best basketball, with about half of the regular season behind them. Many fans were ringing the alarm when the Saints dropped three games in quick succession against Waterloo West, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, and Cedar Rapids Prairie. Since then, the Saints have won six games in a row against Iowa City Regina, Waterloo East, Iowa City High, Perry, Dubuque Hempstead, and Solon. With many new players on the team, it was expected that the team would take some time to really connect and play to its potential. One of the key differences in the Saints’ winning streak has been the addition of senior forward Jacob Hines to the lineup, who has added some much needed rebounding.

“I think everyone is just gelling right now, and getting to know each other’s tendencies and just playing better with each other,” Hines  said. “We just need to keep our focus, and hopefully we will keep experiencing success.”

The Saints’ game against Perry was played on a bigger stage than usual for this time of year. Taking place in the US Cellular Center, the team participated in the inaugural WFA Shootout. Making a season high 14 three pointers, the Saints cruised to an 80-48 victory.

“It is good to keep getting wins no matter where we play, we want to play with intensity regardless to where we are,” senior guard Jackson Joens said. “However, with that being said, it was good to get down to the Cell. We had the chance to again on January 20 and hopefully again at the end of the season.”

Joens has been a key part of the Saints’ run who, along with senior guard Matt Mims, continues to lead the team in scoring. Both seniors are having great seasons, and Mims was recently honored as KCRG’s Athlete of the Week, an accomplishment that is voted for by the community.

“Being voted Athlete of the Week was truly an honor. I remember as a kid watching my favorite athletes in the metro area on the news and thinking how cool it would be if it happened to me,” Mims said. “I can’t express how much I appreciate everyone voting for me and the Xavier community for supporting me and my teammates this season.”

The Saints won 57 to 56 at Dubuque Hempstead on Tuesday, January 16 and beat Solon 66-54 at the Cell on Saturday, January 20. They play next on Friday, January 26 against Cedar Rapids Washington. They next play at home on Friday, January 26 against Cedar Rapids Washington.

Will Hanigan

Sports Writer