DES MOINES — They insist they do nothing special when it comes to conditioning.
No one has to run lines for a half hour at every practice. It is not mandatory that any of them go out for the cross country team.
The North Linn Lynx are able to play this non-stop, warp-speed style of basketball because they practice it. That’s it.
End of story. End of opponent.
“These kids have grown up with (this) style, so they love playing it,” said North Linn Co-Coach Bob Hilmer, after his second-ranked team wore down and wore out Edgewood-Colesburg, 80-34, in a Monday morning Class 1A state tournament quarterfinal at Wells Fargo Arena. “I think each year we get a little better at it, with how we do it. They react well to it.”
This fit the exact pattern of every other game North Linn has had in 2017-18. The Lynx (27-0) scored 24 points in the first quarter, added another 28 in the second and 21 in the third.
They forced turnover after turnover, leading to layup after layup. A continuous clock for a 35-point margin went into effect early in the third quarter, the 27th straight time that’s happened this season.
Here’s the thing. They didn’t even come close to their season average of 93 points.
“Our defense is our strength,” said North Linn’s Ryan Miller, who had a game-high 23 points. “People see we put up 93 points a game, or whatever it is, but a good majority of that is from us getting steals in the open court, getting turnovers like we did today. That is a big key to what we do on offense.”
“It’s hard to keep up with them,” said Ed-Co guard Parker Rochford. “They’re so good at pressing. Just every part of the game they are good at.”
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Had he gotten a little more playing time, point guard Jake Hilmer would have threatened a quadruple-double. As it was, he had 20 points, nine assists, eight steals and six rebounds — all in 25 minutes of court time.
David Seber added 14 points, including a trio of treys in the first half, as North Linn built a 52-21 lead. If he is on with his distance shooting, this team is even tougher.
“Last year, I missed a lot, and I wasn’t very comfortable because it was our first time down here,” Seber said. “The atmosphere made me a little nervous. Before the (first) game, I was about ready to puke. Today, I just got ready and tried to calm myself down.”
North Linn finished with 21 steals, 15 in the first half, which is a pretty insane number.
“We knew Ed-Co wasn’t going to be nervous,” Jake Hilmer said. “They had nothing to lose, have had a great season. Those guys, from the beginning of the year to where they are now, it’s unbelievable. They’ve worked their tails off. It was really cool to see a fellow Tri-Rivers Conference (team) down here.”
This was the first state tournament appearance for Ed-Co (21-5), and its third loss this season to North Linn. All were by lopsided margins.
Ethan Streicher led the Vikings with nine points, while Jacob Wessel added eight. A disappointing end to a wonderful season.
“We never back down from any challenge,” said Ed-Co Coach Justin Olind, whose team had to win two tight games on back-to-back nights to get to The Well. “We knew what we were getting into today.”
North Linn plays seventh-ranked Don Bosco (23-3) in a Wednesday afternoon semifinal at 2. The Dons eked past No. 6 George-Little Rock, 60-57, in a 1A quarterfinal.
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“We played flawless today, in my opinion,” Miller said. “We missed some shots at times, but defense wins championships. That’s what we pride ourselves on. If we play defense like we did today, it’s going to be really hard for teams to stick with us. When we’re pressing all over the place, getting turnovers, that’s what fuels our offense.”
AT DES MOINES
EDGEWOOD-COLESBURG (34): Calvin Heims 2-6 1-2 5, Jacob Wessel 4-7 0-0 8, Ethan Streicher 4-10 0-0 9, Ben Ernst 1-7 0-0 2, Preston Rochford 3-4 0-0 7, Parker Rochford 1-6 0-1 3, Jared Childers 0-0 0-0 0, Tony Wright 0-0 0-0 0, Keegan Hansel 0-0 0-0 0, Spencer Staner 0-2 0-0 0, Brayden Stannard 0-2 0-0 0, Riley Ashline 0-0 0-0 0, Quintin Hess 0-0 0-0 0, Zach Knipper 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-46 1-3 34.
NORTH LINN (80): Trevor Boge 2-3 0-0 4, Adam Waskow 4-6 0-0 8, Jake Hilmer 9-14 1-1 20, David Seber 5-7 1-1 14, Ryan Miller 9-16 3-5 23, Brennan Becker 0-0 0-0 0, Austin Miller 0-1 0-0 0, Brad Pflughaupt 2-4 0-0 5, Josh Smith 1-1 0-0 2, Sean Boardman 0-1 0-0 0, Carter Johnson 2-3 0-2 4. Totals 34-56 5-9 80.
Halftime — North Linn 52, Ed-Co 21. 3-point goals — Ed-Co 3-15 (Streicher 1-6, Ernst 0-2, Pr. Rochford 1-2, Pa. Rochford 1-4, Stannard 0-1), North Linn 7-17 (Hilmer 1-1, Seber 3-5, R. Miller 2-8, A. Miller 0-1, Pflughaupt 1-2). Rebounds — Ed-Co 30 (Heims, Wessel, Staner 5), North Linn 27 (Hilmer, R. Miller 6). Total fouls — Ed-Co 10, North Linn 13. Fouled out — None. Assists — Ed-Co 10 (Pa. Rochford 4), North Linn 16 (Hilmer 9). Turnovers — Ed-Co 27, North Linn 8.
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