116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — The celebration was of the standard variety. A lot of jumping up and down and on each other.
It began near the lane on one end of the Wells Fargo Arena court and quickly wound its way to the side of the floor and in front of the student section.
It stayed there a bit, with one North Linn player inconspicuously peeling off and making a beeline back toward the Lynx team bench. Austin Hilmer sprinted and found his target, his head coach and father, Mike, and leaped into his arms.
A special moment. A repeat special moment since it was the exact thing Jake Hilmer, Austin’s older brother, did three years ago when the Lynx won a state basketball championship.
“Toward the end of the game, my dad is hugging him and saying ‘I love you, man. I’m so proud of you,’” Austin Hilmer said Friday, after North Linn captured the Class 1A title with a 52-48 win over Grand View Christian. “Obviously I was on that team, and he was proud of me, too. But Jake was the leader of that team, and he got this program to where it is. Him and my dad. So to have that hug at the end of the game means a lot to me.
“I wanted that hug.”
The familial embraces didn’t stop there. Brothers Cade and Tate Haughenbury are starters on this title team, Tate joining Hilmer on the 1A all-tournament team as captain.
Starting guard Dylan Kurt, who had a game-high 16 points, walked into the postgame interview room and spotted his older brother, Jake. Those two hugged and cried in that very same room last year when North Linn lost in the 1A final to Montezuma.
These were tears of joy this time.
“Feels really good to have not lost,” Dylan Kurt said. “It hasn’t hit me, yet. I’m going to really miss playing with my best friends and Coach Hilmer and Coach Griff (assistant coach Travis Griffith). I’m going to really miss those guys. It’s going to be really tough to say goodbye. But I’m going to enjoy this win as long as I can.”
This was the unprecedented fifth year in a row in a state championship game for North Linn. It lost to Grand View Christian in 2018’s 1A final, beat Boyden-Hull for the 2A title in 2019 and lost to Boyden-Hull in 2020.
“If we’d have lost, I’d have been 1-4,” smiled Mike Hilmer. “Only 2-3 still.”
The revenge on Grand View Christian here came in large part to North Linn (27-1) being able to get star guard Josh Baucum and 6-foot-11 shot-swatting center Daniel Tobiloba into foul trouble. Baucum picked up three in the first 3:06 of the game and a fourth in the second quarter.
Tobiloba picked up his third late in the second quarter and a fourth early in the third.
Having Baucum less effective on both ends of the floor and Tobiloba unable to be as aggressive defensively in the lane, North Linn was able to play more freely. It built a 36-28 lead early in the third quarter and led by five going to the fourth.
“We knew we had to get in front of Josh Baucum. Get in front of him and take some charges early, and then try and get him and Daniel in as much foul trouble as we could,” said Tate Haughenbury, who had 15 points. “Those two are great players, and if we could get them in foul trouble and on the bench, we were going to have a better run at it.”
“We wanted to get them in foul trouble right from the start, and we did a great job,” Kurt said. “We had a couple of guys takes some charges that were huge plays. A lot of that stuff can get overlooked, but those were game changers.”
Hilmer’s two free throws on a one-and-one with 13.3 seconds, a missed GVC 3-point attempt, and a North Linn rebound ... and a championship. North Linn lost to Edgewood-Colesburg before Christmas to end a 107-game regular-season win streak, but that’s immaterial at this point.
“It’s a great feeling finally being able to put these pieces together,” Tate Haughenbury said.
“I’m a big believer in karma,” Mike Hilmer said. “I say this to everybody, that I think good things happen to good people. I couldn’t find 15 better kids to coach.”
AT DES MOINES
NORTH LINN (52): Ben Wheatley 1-2 0-0 2, Cade Haughenbury 2-6 0-0 4, Tage Haughenbury 5-13 4-4 15, Austin Hilmer 4-8 2-2 10, Dylan Kurt 5-9 4-4 16, Mason Bechen 1-1 0-0 2, Ty Pflughaupt 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 19-41 10-10 52.
GRAND VIEW CHRISTIAN (48): Josh Sanderson 4-12 0-0 11, Josh Baucum 3-5 0-0 8, Manny Hammonds 4-11 2-2 12, Caleb Parlee 0-5 0-2 0, Daniel Tobiloba 6-9 3-3 15, Frankie Chiodo 0-1 0-0 0, Noah John 1-5 0-0 2. Totals 18-48 5-7 48.
Halftime - North Linn 27, Grand View Christian 24. 3-point goals - North Linn 4-10 (C. Haughenbury 0-1, Kurt 2-2, Hilmer 0-2, T. Haughenbury 1-3, Plughaupt 1-2), Grand View Christian 7-17 (Sanderson 3-8, Baucum 2-3, Hammonds 2-4, John 0-1). Rebounds - North Linn 22 (T. Haughenbury 6), Grand View Christian 30 (Tobiloba 18). Total fouls - North Linn 11, Grand View Christian 15. Fouled out - None. Assists - North Linn 10 (Hilmer, T. Haughenbury 3), Grand View Christian 5 (Sanderson 2). Turnovers - North Linn 8, Grand View Christian 12.
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