INDEPENDENCE — They lost the pace battle, but not the game. That’s all North Linn’s boys’ basketball team is concerned about.
The high-flying Lynx weren’t remotely high flying Tuesday night in a Class 2A district final, held some 38 points under their state-leading average. But they were still able to slug out a 55-43 victory over Dyersville Beckman.
"A win’s a win," said North Linn guard Jake Hilmer. "I’ve said before that we score 75, we win the game. Turns out tonight that 55 was enough."
The talk coming in was who would be able to control tempo.
Would it be North Linn, which presses you defensively, loves to get up and down the floor and score points in bunches? Or would it be Beckman, hardened by playing mostly 3A competition in the Wamac Conference and preferring a much slower pace?
Beckman was the answer to that question. The Blazers (16-6) led by a deuce at halftime, but a 10-0 run in the third quarter pushed North Linn (22-0) to a 39-30 lead and over the top in this slug-it-out affair.
Beckman had just 17 second-half points, its two leading scorers (forward Michael Keegan and guard Luke Goedken) essentially taken out of the game offensively by strong man-to-man Lynx defense. Each finished with seven points, two in the second half.
Keegan, guarded mostly by David Seber, came in averaging over 18 a game.
“We shut down two really good players in the second half, and I think that was the key to the game,” said North Linn Co-Coach Mike Hilmer. “One thing I’m really proud about, people say it’s always tempo, it’s always tempo, and that might be true. But we showed tonight we can play at a different tempo, too.”
“In the first half, we were just trying to trap, trap right away, get them going all over the place,” said North Linn’s Austin Miller. “Let their shooters go free. We had to change it up in the second half, make their other kids beat us, other than their really, really good players. We stuck to exactly what Hilmer told us. Stuck to the game plan and came out on top.”
Jake Hilmer was his normal wizard self, finishing with a game-high 26 points and double-digit assists, though it was never easy for him. Miller added nine points.
North Linn, which plays defending state champ Cascade (15-6) in a Saturday night substate final at Manchester, got just five combined points from its second and third-leading scorers Seber and Trevor Boge (all five from Seber), but still managed to win.
“Our strengths are our defense and rebounding and getting good shots on offense, and we did that well at times tonight,” said Beckman Coach Michael Molony. “We had them pushed up against the wall, just not enough.”
“We’re a really good defensive team, whether it’s full court or half court,” Jake Hilmer said. “We like to expose it in the full court, but tonight some of the time it had to be in the half court. Just like the other night, we made great adjustments at halftime. Coaching staff made great adjustments, players did a great job of executing on those adjustments. We stayed true to the plan. A lot of mental toughness shown here tonight. Very impressive win for us.”
DYERSVILLE BECKMAN (43): Michael Keegan 3-9 1-3 7, Shawn Deutmeyer 4-7 1-1 9, Jack Westhoff 2-4 0-0 4, Luke Goedken 3-4 0-0 7, Tom Jaeger 4-11 0-0 9, Seamus O’Connor 3-8 0-1 7, Mason White 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-43 2-4 43.
NORTH LINN (55): Austin Miller 4-4 1-2 9, Trevor Boge 0-3 0-2 0, Carter johnson 4-4 0-0 8, David Seber 2-4 0-0 5, Jake Hilmer 11-20 4-8 26, Austin Hilmer 2-4 3-4 7, Josh Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-35 8-16 55.
Halftime — Beckman 26, North Linn 24. 3-point goals — Beckman 3-12 (Keegan 0-3, Westhoff 0-1, Goedken 1-2, Jaeger 1-3, O’Connor 1-3), North Linn 1-8 (Seber 1-3, Boge 0-1), J. Hilmer 0-2, A. Hilmer 0-1). Rebounds — Beckman 26 (Keegan 7), North Linn 19 (Boge 5). Total fouls — Beckman 16, North Linn 12. Fouled out — Miller. Turnovers — Beckman 17, North Linn 12.
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