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By Chad Cooper, community contributor
CEDAR RAPIDS — The Kirkwood men’s and women’s basketball teams are setting their sights high once again.
The men’s team is 1-3 heading into tonight’s home opener against the Grand View junior varsity.
The Eagles are hoping to defend their Iowa Community College Athletic Conference title after going 13-1 in conference play last year, 27-5 overall. That team was characterized by dominate post play and sharpshooting from the perimeter.
This year’s team will have much the same attack with returning sophomores Matt Tiby and Kasey Semler stepping into leadership roles. Tiby averaged 12 points and six rebounds last season and Semler, a former prep standout at Marion, shot 38 percent from 3-point range.
Tiby will be helped in the post by sophomore forwards Kevin Hunter and Gage Heffernan. Semler will get assistance on the wing from guard Devan Douglas, a sophomore out of Clinton.
The Eagles also are counting on freshmen like Taylor Olson and J.C. Fuller. Olson was a first-team all-Mississippi Valley Conference pick at Jefferson last year, averaging more than 18 points per game. Fuller led Sioux City East at more than 17 points per game.
Doug Wagemester is in his 15th season at Kirkwood with a 390-94 overall record that includes a dominate conference mark of 169-22.
When it comes to Kirkwood women’s basketball, success is not a goal — it is an expectation. Coach Kim Mull has built and maintained a powerhouse program over his 24 years, including six national titles and numerous conference championships.
The Eagles are coming off a 32-4, 16-0 ICCAC season — their 16th straight conference title. Kirkwood also won the Region XI Championship and qualified for the NJCAA Division II national tournament.
The Eagles (4-0) lost two of their top three scorers, but have reloaded with a solid foundation of returning players and incoming talent. Kirkwood returns top scorer Kiana Jacobs, a 6-foot forward from Milwaukee who averaged nearly 11 points and six rebounds per game last season.
Post players Friday Choul, Whitney Henderson and Krissi Tow are return, giving Kirkwood one of the taller and most experienced frontcourts in the conference.
The Eagles also have no shortage of explosive guards. Sophomore guards Bianca Dufelmeier and Aisle Quinlan are both deep-threats who can shoot from anywhere on the court. Dufelmeier led the team with 76 3-pointers last season, followed closely by Quinlan with 73.
Newcomers include Shahana Williams from Class 4A state champion Iowa City West and Sierra Chambers, who played for Iowa City High.
The Eagles play in Sedalia, Mo., this weekend and host South Australia Institute of Sports on Nov. 20.
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