Prep Basketball

2nd-quarter surge lifts North Linn past Springville for 6th straight conference championship

Lynx beat Orioles, 78-59, to remain unbeaten

Springville's Bryce Wilson (center) gets the ball knocked away by North Linn's Austin Miller  (right) as North Linn's Dy
Springville’s Bryce Wilson (center) gets the ball knocked away by North Linn’s Austin Miller (right) as North Linn’s Dylan Kurt also defends during the second quarter of their boy’s basketball game at North Linn High School in Troy Mills, Iowa, on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

TROY MILLS — The numbers keep climbing higher and higher and getting more and more absurd and impressive.

The Class 2A third-ranked North Linn boys’ basketball team clinched its sixth consecutive Tri-Rivers Conference championship Friday night with a 78-59 win over Springville. This one was a West Division title, to be specific.

That’s 45 consecutive victories for the Lynx, 19 in a row this season. North Linn has beaten Tri-Rivers foes 81 straight times, the last loss coming to Alburnett in a 2016 district game.

The last regular-season loss in the Tri-Rivers came all the way back in 2014, by one point to Easton Valley.

You want more? North Linn is 73-1 in its last 74 games and 121-4 over its last 125.

“I don’t care who you are playing, that’s incredible,” said North Linn Co-Coach Mike Hilmer.

You can’t argue with him. This latest win came as the vast majority of them do, with a huge run set up by forcing turnovers via a pressing and trapping defense and converting those turnovers into mega-quick points.

Springville (15-4) led after a fun up-and-down first quarter, 22-20, but the second quarter was all North Linn, as it outscored the Orioles by a 25-4 margin for a 45-26 halftime edge.

“We got a little apprehensive at times in the second quarter,” said Springville Coach Nick Merritt. “We didn’t attack the press the way we wanted to. Then we had two guys (Kyle Koppes and Luke Menster) get into foul trouble who are pretty important to us breaking the press.”

“They’re a really good team, and we knew that coming in,” said North Linn’s Austin Miller. “They’re really similar to us, have really good guards, are a well-rounded team. We knew they would go on runs, it’s just a matter of if you weather the storm or not. We kept our composure, changed up our press a little. We weren’t being so aggressive, were making them kind of distinguish where they were going to go. We just played it that way, got them a little tired.”

Miller was THE player of the game, with no question, finishing with 35 points and 11 rebounds. Despite being just 6-foot-2, he is able to maneuver around the basket for putbacks, post moves and the occasional dunk, as he had one here after a clean steal of a Springville player.

“This year, I knew it was my role to get rebounds and score down low,” said Miller, who averages a team-best 21 points. “We’ve worked on it a ton this year. The coaches have done a great job with me, getting post moves down. I didn’t really play that well in that first Springville game with my post moves, so we just hammered it for about a week straight ... It’s helped me a ton since.”

Springville was led by Alex Koppes’ 19 points, with Kyle Koppes adding 14. Unlike North Linn, the Orioles are a Class 1A school that kind of reminds you a bit of last year’s Alburnett team that went into the postseason unheralded and ended up playing in the 1A state title game.

AT TROY MILLS

SPRINGVILLE (59): Kyle Koppes 5-8 1-2 14, Luke Menster 4-8 2-2 10, Bryce Wilson 1-4 2-2 5, Alex Koppes 7-14 3-4 19, Rhenden Wagaman 3-7 0-0 8, Grant Gloeckner 0-2 0-0 0, Tommy Hagensick 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 21-46 8-10 59.

NORTH LINN (78): Austin Miller 8-16 8-9 35, Dylan Kurt 5-15 3-4 14, Cade Haughenbury 2-4 0-2 4, Austin Hilomer 4-14 1-1 9, Gunner Vanourney 3-7 0-0 8, Kaleb Kurt 4-5 0-0 8, Ben Wheatley 0-2 0-0 0, Parker Bechen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-63 12-16 78.

Halftime — North Linn 45, Springville 26. 3-point goals — Springville 9-20 (K. Koppes 3-6, Menster 0-2, Wilson 1-3, A. Koppes 2-5, Wagaman 2-3, Hagensick 1-1), North Linn 4-17 (Miller 1-1, D. Kurt 1-8, Hilmer 0-2, Vanourney 2-6). Rebounds — Springville 25 (Gloeckner 5), North Linn 36 (Miller 11). Total fouls — Springville 14, North Linn 8. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Springville 15, North Linn 8.

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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