So far, so good for first year Kirkwood men's basketball coach Tim Sandquist

So far, so good for first year Kirkwood men's basketball coach Tim Sandquist

CEDAR RAPIDS — Taking over a national championship team comes with some unique challenges.

First-year Kirkwood men's basketball coach Tim Sandquist seems to be handling it just fine.

"At the end of the day, you still have got to coach people, have good relationships and things like that," Sandquist said after the 14th-ranked Eagles edged No. 12 NIACC, 89-88, in an Iowa Community College Athletic Conference game Wednesday night at Johnson Hall. "Handling expectations and really the biggest challenge is knowing that because of what that group accomplished last year, we are getting everybody's best shot. Night in and night out, no matter who we play."

Sandquist, 35, was hired in May to replace Bryan Petersen, the former Iowa State player who won two national titles as coach of the Eagles. Petersen left for an assistant coaching job with Division-I South Dakota State.

Sandquist, a native of Omaha, Neb., came to Kirkwood after a year as head coach at Rock Valley College in Illinois.

"It has been a little change, but he knows what he is talking about and he has got a great system," said Kirkwood sophomore Luke Appel, who led the Eagles with 27 points, 17 rebounds and six assists against NIACC. "He gets us in the right spots and we are just trying to do the best we can to repeat again."

The victory was the fourth in a row for Kirkwood (16-4, 6-1 ICCAC), which has won 11 of its last 12 contests. The Eagles have moved into a first-place tie in the ICCAC with DMACC and Iowa Lakes.

"Playing together and playing unselfish," Sandquist said. "Playing team ball and buying into defense … Just keep being an everyday team, be an everyday guy. Being consistent in our approach, being consistent in our hard work and not taking anything for granted."

Sophomore Devonte Thedford added 17 points for Kirkwood, which led by as many as 15 points in the first half before NIACC rallied. DJ Purnell posted 14 for the Eagles, while Jamal Stephenson added 11.

Wendell Matthews led all scorers with 29 for NIACC (17-4, 4-3).

Men's basketball

AT JOHNSON HALL

No. 14 Kirkwood 89, No. 12 NIACC 88

NORTH IOWA AREA CC (88): James Harris 5-13 4-5 15, Wendell Matthews 13-19 3-3 29, Quentin Hardrict 8-14 6-8 22, Marshaun Carroll 4-7 0-0 10, Jaden Horton 4-8 0-0 10, McKelary Robertson 0-1 2-2 2, Chandler Dean 0-4 0-0 0, Zach Johnson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 34-66 15-18 88.

KIRKWOOD (89): Seybian Sims 3-4 1-2 9, Devonte Thedford 6-12 5-8 17, Luke Appel 10-16 6-7 27, Jamal Stephenson 4-6 0-0 11, DJ Purnell 5-7 4-5 14, Chris Burnell 1-3 0-0 2, Gacoby Jones 0-2 0-0 0, Griffen Clark 1-3 0-0 3, Owen Coburn 0-1 0-0 0, Niko Gosnell 2-3 2-2 6. Totals 32-57 18-24 89.

Halftime — Kirkwood 48, North Iowa Area CC 39. 3-point goals — North Iowa Area CC 5-16 (Harris 1-5, Carroll 2-4, Horton 2-4, Robertson 0-1, Dean 0-2), Kirkwood 7-15 (Sims 2-3, Thedford 0-1, Appel 1-2, Stephenson 3-5, Gacoby Jones 0-1, Clark 1-3). Rebounds — North Iowa Area CC 23 (Matthews 6, Hardrict 6), Kirkwood 29 (Appel 17). Assists — North Iowa Area CC 11 (Hardrict 9), Kirkwood 10 (Appel 6). Turnovers — North Iowa Area CC 11, Kirkwood 17. Fouls — North Iowa Area CC 19, Kirkwood 18. Fouled out — North Iowa Area CC (Dean). Technicals — None.

Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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