Prep Basketball

No. 1 North Linn beats No. 7 Springville despite missing a key player again

North Linn's Dylan Kurt (23) looks for an open teammate while covered by Boyden-Hull's Spencer Te Slaa (23) during the f
North Linn's Dylan Kurt (23) looks for an open teammate while covered by Boyden-Hull's Spencer Te Slaa (23) during the first quarter of their Class 2A state championship game at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Friday, March 13, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

SPRINGVILLE — They just keep winning. Despite some really good opponents and some really big obstacles being thrown at them.

The top-ranked North Linn Lynx beat No. 7 Springville for a second time this season, 69-59, Tuesday night.

Also for a second time this season, North Linn turned that trick without a top player. All-state point guard Austin Hilmer sat out with a stomach bug.

In the first game between these Tri-Rivers Conference powerhouses in early January, North Linn won without starting guard Dylan Kurt. Pretty remarkable.

“I would say this one,” said North Linn’s Ben Wheatley, when asked which of the victories impressed him more. “Missing Austin, finding out that news earlier today was kind of shocking. Then we didn’t even know if Dylan was going to play this game. They told Dylan he was starting point guard tonight, and his eyes lit up. The way Dylan played tonight was huge. We didn’t think we’d get anything close to that tonight.”

Kurt has been dealing with a knee injury that recently required arthroscopic surgery. He had a game-high 25 points as North Linn (17-0) won for the 108th straight time in the regular season and for the 110th consecutive time against a Tri-Rivers opponent.

The last regular-season loss was to Monticello in 2016, the last loss to a TRC team to Easton Valley by a point in 2014.

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“That says a lot about our coaches: Mike Hilmer and Griff (assistant) Travis Griffith,” said Kurt, who practiced for the first time in well over a month Monday. “You can see how dominant we’ve been. It wasn’t just our grade, it was every grade. Looking forward to postseason play.”

North Linn hit its first four 3-pointers and built a 21-9 lead after a quarter. Springville (16-2) closed within a point in the second quarter but never could quite get over that proverbial hump.

Both teams shot 50 percent from the field. Wheatley added 15 points for North Linn, with Rhendan Wageman and Alex Koppes leading Springville with 13 and 12 points, respectively.

Unheralded guard Jack Hoogland helped the Orioles get back into the game with three treys and 11 points off the bench.

“Yeah, I think frustration is the right word. It’s very frustrating,” Koppes said, when asked about not being able to end North Linn’s streaks despite key players being out of the lineup. “Hopefully we get to see them again down the road, and hopefully at full strength. And hopefully we’re firing on all cylinders.”

Mike Hilmer said his team has not been at full strength for 11 straight games, which is a scary thought for the rest of 1A. It won eight games without Kurt, two when Wheatley was in COVID-19 quarantine and now this one without Austin Hilmer.

“We think he’s just got a little bit of a flu bug because he doesn’t have any of the other symptoms,” Mike Hilmer said. “No headache or fever or anything ... It just wasn’t worth it. I told him we didn’t want to put Springville in (possible) jeopardy, we didn’t want to put him in jeopardy. It’s probably the flu, so let’s just let it run its course.”

AT SPRINGVILLE

NORTH LINN (69): Tate Haughenbury 5-10 1-2 11, Dylan Kurt 9-14 1-2 25, Cade Haughenbury 3-7 1-2 7, Gunner Vanourney 3-8 0-1 9, Ben Wheatley 5-11 4-4 15, Kaleb Kurt 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 26-52 7-11 69.

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SPRINGVILLE (59): Bryce Wilson 4-12 0-2 9, Grant Gloeckner 0-1 0-0 0, Rhenden Wagaman 5-10 2-2 13, Alex Koppes 6-10 0-0 12, Luke Menster 3-5 1-2 8, Tommy Hagensick 3-5 0-3 6, Jack Hoogland 4-7 0-0 11. Totals 25-50 3-9 59.

Halftime — North Linn 35, Springville 29. 3-point goals — North Linn 10-24 (D. Kurt 6-11, C. Haughenbury 0-2, Vanourney 3-8, Wheatley 1-4), Springville 6-21 (Wilson 1-6, Wagaman 1-4, Koppes 0-2, Menster 1-2, Hagensick 0-1, Hoogland 3-6). Rebounds — North Linn 27 (T. Haughenbury 10), Springville 29 (Wagaman 10). Total fouls — North Linn 15, Springville 15. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — North Linn 9, Springville 14.

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

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