North Linn tops Springville in clash of top-ranked girls' basketball teams

Lynx outscore Orioles 24-9 in 4th quarter for 48-35 victory

Springville's Rylee Menster is surrounded by North Linn's Abby Flanagan (33), Ashley Tull (51) and Anna LeGrand (45) Tuesday at Springville. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Springville's Rylee Menster is surrounded by North Linn's Abby Flanagan (33), Ashley Tull (51) and Anna LeGrand (45) Tuesday at Springville. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

SPRINGVILLE — It’s rare when two top-ranked teams square off on the court.

Hold a mirror up to either Class 1A No. 1 Springville or Class 2A No. 1 North Linn and you may catch a reflection of the other. Tough defense, sharp shooting, and determination shone through for both teams.

Although North Linn defeated Springville, 48-35, both teams had a lot to reflect on after the game Tuesday night.

“We just could not hit a shot for what seemed liked forever,” Lynx head coach Brian Wheatly said.

The Lynx (5-0) missed their first five shots and didn’t have a field goal until late in the first quarter.

“We told the kids to take a breath at halftime and stick with it. And the shots will fall,” Wheatly said.

On the other side of the mirror, Springville (4-1) marched out to an early 10-4 lead behind strong defense.

“These girls have always worked hard in the zone,” Springville head coach Christina Zaruba said. “I thought we did what we needed to do in the first half defensively.”

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Cut to the fourth quarter and a 30-30 tie with less than five minutes to play. North Linn’s Abby Flanagan drilled a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Lynx a 33-30 edge.

Grace Flanagan added a trey from the top of the arc, and suddenly the Lynx were ahead 36-30 with 4:19 left to play.

“I really wanted to get one, too,” said Grace, referring to her sister’s 3-pointer.

North Linn, ranked seventh in Class 2A with a scoring average just under 66 points per game, struggled to string together a successful offensive run. The sudden six points seemed to awaken the Lynx offense, and they scored 12 of the game’s last 15 points.

“It’s really simple, but it was just a matter of having a few shots go in,” Wheatly said. “That got us settled down a little. Then we got a couple of run-outs on some fast breaks and a couple of easy baskets and it just snowballed from there.”

Springville only hit one shot in the final two minutes of the game despite a season average of 51.5 percent shooting from the field.

“We got a lot of information from this game about what we need to work on,” Zaruba said. “I really think some of it was their buckets were falling and ours weren’t. It went that way in the first half, when ours were falling and theirs weren’t, so it went both ways. They’re a really good team and I can’t wait to face them again.”

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