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WEST DES MOINES — Linn-Mar girls’ basketball coach Jaime Brandt never saw her team fold, even in the midst of a six-game losing streak.
The Lions were a little wind swept by the string of losses, but it didn’t change the day-to-day demeanor. The mojo was back in time to make a run at the regional finals.
Linn-Mar found a multi-talented buzzsaw in No. 7 West Des Moines Dowling. The Maroons ultimately prevailed 53-41 in the Class 5A regional final, but the Lions made it anything but easy.
“We battled,” Brandt said. “We definitely battled there and gave them a little scare in the fourth.
“To go on a six-game losing streak, bounce back and beat Hempstead and come here and compete like we did, not a lot of girls would do that. So I couldn’t be more proud.”
The Lions (12-11) and Maroons (19-4) got off to a slow start, but Linn-Mar pushed ahead 14-13 after the first quarter. That’s when Dowling started to find a rhythm.
Dowling used an 18-8 run during the second and third quarters to give itself a bit of a cushion under the aggressive, fast-paced direction of freshman Caitlin Clark. Clark poured in a game-high 25 points and five rebounds.
“We worked our hardest in practice to really focus on certain players,” said Linn-Mar junior Kamryn Finley, who had a team-high 18 points. “Caitlin Clark is a stud and we tried to shut her down.
“Everyone is going to have their amazing games and this one was a tough one for us. We always come out with class, win or lose.”
Linn-Mar’s deficit hovered around double figures before Finley made a push. Her change of speed and ability to attack the rim put her on the free-throw line often, where she was 10-for-11. Dowling was able to seal the game at the free throw line itself, going 24-for-34 from the charity stripe.
Lions junior Megan Murphy had 8 points while Dowling’s Josie Filer and Anna Wanek had 12 and 10 points, respectively.
“I think it was kind of a mental aspect where we had everybody back together and we had nothing to lose at that point,” Murphy said of the late-game push. “We only had a little bit of the season left and we wanted to do it for our seniors. That’s really what got us going.”
Linn-Mar graduates four seniors — only Lexi Frese as a starter — and expects to be in this spot again sooner rather than later.
“It’s hard to think about it right now ... but we do have almost everyone coming back,” Brandt said. “The way these girls work in the offseason, I’m excited for next year already.”
AT WEST DES MOINES DOWLING
LINN-MAR (41): Carly Spies 2-4 0-0 4, Ally Johnson 2-6 0-0 4, Lexi Frese 2-6 0-0 4, Megan Murphy 2-6 2-2 8, Kamryn Finley 4-13 10-11 18, Megan Renner 0-0 1-2 1, Carly Printy 0-5 0-0 0, Macey Miller 0-0 2-2 2, Ellie Anderson 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 10-40 15-19 41.
WEST DES MOINES DOWLING (53) Caitlin Clark 5-12 13-15 25, Mia Cataldo 0-0 1-2 1, Anna Wanek 5-7 0-0 10, Emma Gaber 0-0 4-6 4, Josie Filer 3-11 5-8 12, Kaitlyn Moses 0-0 4-6 4, Hallie Ketcham 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 10-27 24-34 53.
Halftime — West Des Moines Dowling 22, Linn-Mar 18. 3-point goals — West Des Moines Dowling 3-11 (Clark 2-5, Cataldo 0-1, Wanek 0-2, Gaber 0-2, Filer 1-1), Linn-Mar 2-16 (Murphy 2-4). Rebounds — West Des Moines Dowling 30 (Filer, 14), Linn-Mar 24 (Spies, 7). Total fouls — West Des Moines Dowling 16, Linn-Mar 23. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — West Des Moines Dowling 9, Linn-Mar 5.
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