Prep Basketball

Girls' basketball notes: Another winter, another big season for North Linn

Unbeaten Lynx have thrived behind the 3-point line

North Linn's Grace Flanagan (22) scores in last year's Class 2A regional-final loss to Dike-New Hartford. The Lynx are 12-0 this season thanks to their perimeter play. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
North Linn's Grace Flanagan (22) scores in last year's Class 2A regional-final loss to Dike-New Hartford. The Lynx are 12-0 this season thanks to their perimeter play. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

The North Linn express continues to roll, and there’s no end in the foreseeable future.

Despite losing three of its top six scorers from last year to graduation, the North Linn girls’ basketball program keeps humming along.

“It’s been a bit of a nice surprise,” Lynx Coach Brian Wheatley said. “It starts when the kids are young. They put a lot of time in the gym ... hours and hours and hours working on their shot.

“So it’s not a fluke.”

Probably a bit underrated at No. 9 in Class 2A, the Lynx (12-0 overall, 7-0 Tri-Rivers Conference) are second in the state — all classes — in scoring at 75.7 points per game. They’re allowing 36.6 points per contest.

Their trademark is outside shooting, both in quantity (113 3-pointers ranks No. 1 in Iowa) and quality (41.7 percent, which ranks No. 2 among teams with 100-plus attempts).

Both of those marks took a leap Tuesday. North Linn hit 16 of 23 from long distance in a 104-34 rout of Central City.

“It was one of those deals where they started going in, and it snowballed,” Wheatley said.

Each of the top four scorers are more than capable from distance. Junior Grace Flanagan leads the Lynx at 19.1 points per game, followed by senior Kylie Kurt (14.6) and juniors Abby Flanagan and Sydney Burke (12.8 and 9.8).

That’s not to say the Lynx don’t have an inside presence. Predominantly a JV player last year, sophomore Ellie Ware has developed and nets 8.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

“We weren’t sure what we were going to get out of her,” Wheatley said. “She’s a lot further along than I thought she would be.”

Freshman Chloe Van Etten and juniors Hannah Bridgewater and Fallon Finnegan are the top reserves.

North Linn has posted 20-plus wins in each of the past eight seasons. And there’s no guarantee the run of excellence will end after this junior class departs — the seventh- and sixth-grade groups are said to be stacked.

Winners of 33 consecutive regular-season games, the Lynx host Alburnett (9-3, 5-2) Friday. Their toughest upcoming challenges are at home against Maquoketa Valley (Jan. 18) and at Cascade (Feb. 7).

Like mother, like daughter

It has taken less than two seasons, but Elise Boulton has become the career leader for 3-pointers at Montezuma.

A sophomore, she struck once from long distance in the Bravettes’ 67-37 home win over Earlham on Monday. That sent her season total to 34 (in 83 attempts) and her career tally to 104 (in 266 tries).

Boulton pushed past her mother, Marie (Rabenold) Boulton, who played for Montezuma in the mid-1990s.

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Class 1A state quarterfinalists last season and winners of 11 straight games, the Bravettes are 12-1 overall, 9-0 in the South Iowa Cedar League. They host Iowa Valley on Friday.

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

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