Prep Basketball

Balanced, unselfish North Linn advances to girls' state basketball tournament

Lynx rock Wilton, 79-48, for Class 2A berth

North Linn players celebrate following their Class 2A regional win over Wilton on Monday. The Lynx won, 79-48. (Ben Roberts/Freelance)
North Linn players celebrate following their Class 2A regional win over Wilton on Monday. The Lynx won, 79-48. (Ben Roberts/Freelance)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Biggest game. Best game.

Eighth-ranked North Linn placed all five starters in double figures, jumped all over No. 10 Wilton early and rolled to the girls’ state basketball tournament, 79-48, in a Class 2A regional final Monday night at Prairie High School.

“It was the best all-around game we’ve played all season,” Lynx Coach Brian Wheatley said. “We had two good days of practice and were really dialed in.”

The Lynx (21-1) played beautiful team basketball, amassing 23 assists.

“It goes to show how unselfish we are,” said Kylie Kurt, who led the Lynx with 18 points. “When we move the ball around, it’s hard for teams to stop us.

“We can score from the perimeter, and if you stop that, we can go inside and let the posts do their thing.”

North Linn will face No. 3 Treynor (23-1) in a first-round state contest at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, at Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines.

The Lynx were top-ranked last year, played tight and got bumped in the regional final by Dike-New Hartford. This year, a whole different story. They got out and ran and never took their collective foot off the pedal.

“We felt like we were kind of robbed last year,” Grace Flanagan said. “We really wanted to get (to state) this year, and we got the job done.”

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Wilton (21-3) had scored 88 and 85 points in its first two regional rounds, but after the first four minutes, this one belonged to the Lynx. North Linn zapped the Beavers with a 22-2 run in an eight-minute stretch that straddled the first-quarter break for a 31-11 lead, and it was 41-19 at halftime.

“We switched defenses and went to a triangle,” Flanagan said. “Then we went on a run.”

A big one.

Flanagan added 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the winners. Sydney Burke tallied 13 points. Regional-semifinal hero Ellie Ware scored 12, as did Abby Flanagan, who dished out seven assists. Kurt collected six steals.

Wilton cut a 28-point third-quarter deficit to 18 with about seven minutes to go, but the comeback stopped there. North Linn put an exclamation point on it with a 14-2 to close the game.

Emily Lange led Wilton with 19 points. Kortney Drake accumulated 15 points and eight rebounds.

Maybe it was last year’s regional-final result. Or a 2-for-22 long-range shooting performance in a regional-semifinal grind against Iowa City Regina. Kurt came to Cedar Rapids a bit uneasy.

“I had butterflies all day,” she said.

She came with butterflies. She left with a banner.

NORTH LINN 79, WILTON 48

2A Regional Final, at C.R. Prairie

WILTON (48): Linsey Ford 2-8 1-2 5, Kortney Drake 7-11 0-1 15, Emily Lange 7-14 3-6 19, Aubrey Putman 1-10 3-4 5, Kelsey Drake 0-5 2-3 2, Ella Caffrey 0-1 2-2 2, Alexis Walker 0-1 0-0 0, Emi Coss 0-0 0-0 0, Chloe Wells 0-2 0-0 0, Peyton Souhrada 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-53 11-18 48.

NORTH LINN (79): Grace Flanagan 3-12 9-9 17, Ellie Ware 5-8 2-4 12, Abby Flanagan 5-14 0-0 12, Kylie Kurt 8-12 0-0 18, Sydney Burke 4-7 2-2 13, Chloe Van Etten 1-1 2-2 4, Hannah Bridgewater 0-0 0-0 0, Fallon Finnegan 0-0 1-2 1, Ella Ries 0-0 0-0 0, Jenna Gallery 0-0 0-0 0, Becky Dundle 0-0 0-0 0, Emma Ries 1-1 0-0 2, Maddie Stepanek 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-55 16-19 79.

Halftime: North Linn 41, Wilton 19. 3-point goals: Wilton 3-20 (Ford 0-4, Kortney Drake 1-1, Lange 2-4, Putman 0-5, Kelsey Drake 0-2, Walker 0-1, Wells 0-1, Souhrada 0-1), North Linn 9-22 (G. Flanagan 2-6, A. Flanagan 2-6, Kurt 2-5, Burke 3-5). Team fouls: Wilton 15, North Linn 15. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: Wilton 31 (Kortney Drake 8), North Linn 37 (G. Flanagan 8). Assists: Wilton 4 (four with 1), North Linn 23 (A. Flanagan 7). Steals: Wilton 8 (Kelsey Drake 3), North Linn 9 (Kurt 6). Turnovers: Wilton 17, North Linn 12.

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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