Prep Basketball

North Linn shines in the 4th, rallies past Western Christian in girls' state basketball quarterfinals

Brian Wheatley's gamble pays off; Lynx reach 2A semifinals

DES MOINES — As the fourth quarter began, Grace Flanagan got off the bench, ready to return to the court.

There was a problem. She had four fouls.

“I told (Coach Brian Wheatley) I wouldn’t do anything wrong,” Flanagan said.

So Wheatley went against conventional wisdom and brought her back in.

“I made her promise not to foul,” he said.

Flanagan joined the fourth-quarter fun, mostly in a supporting role, and third-ranked North Linn rallied past No. 8 Western Christian, 49-44, in a Class 2A quarterfinal at the girls’ state basketball tournament Wednesday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena.

It was the first state-tournament win for the current crop of seniors, who have crafted a four-year mark of 91-7 with three appearances here.

“We’ve been searching for this for a long time, and we finally got it,” said Ellie Ware, a junior post.

The reward for the Lynx (23-2) is a semifinal date with No. 2 West Hancock (25-1) at 11:45 Friday morning. West Hancock handled No. 12 Logan-Magnolia, 57-31.

The Lynx lost in the first round to Western Christian in 2017, were upset in the regional finals by Dike-New Hartford in 2018, then fell in the quarterfinals to Treynor last year.

They weren’t going to be denied again. Not even when Western (17-8) opened the second half with a 13-2 run. And not even with Flanagan and Ware in major foul trouble.

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“We knew both teams were going to make runs,” North Linn’s Sydney Burke said. “In past years, our immaturity showed and we fell apart. This year, we stayed together.”

North Linn faced a 38-34 deficit when Western’s Olivia Granstra hit two free throws with 6:54 remaining. It responded with a maturity-laden surge.

Ware started it with a basket inside. Then Abby Flanagan got a steal and her first bucket of the game to tie it, 38-38.

Abby Flanagan’s 3-pointer put North Linn ahead to stay, 41-38, then Ware added a pretty step-through basket to complete a 9-0 run.

Ally Postma scored to bring Western within 43-40, then Ware struck again with a basket. When Ware and Grace Flanagan hit two free throws apiece, the run was 15-2, the lead was 49-40, and the Lynx were semifinal-bound.

Grace Flanagan led the Lynx with 15 points and seven steals. Ware posted 11 points and seven rebounds, and Burke chipped in 10 points.

North Linn held the Wolfpack to 6-of-23 shooting in the first half on the way to a 24-17 lead, but Western opened the second half with a 9-0 run.

“We talked about weathering the storm, but unfortunately, the storm lasted almost the whole quarter,” Wheatley said.

Granstra posted 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists for Western.

NORTH LINN 49, WESTERN CHRISTIAN 44

2A State Quarterfinal, at Des Moines

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WESTERN CHRISTIAN (44): Makenna Kooima 1-7 2-2 5, Olivia Granstra 5-11 9-9 20, Ally Postma 2-3 0-2 4, Abby Postma 1-9 0-0 3, Macay Van’t Hul 5-6 0-4 10, Courtney Kollis 0-1 0-0 0, Madison Vis 1-6 0-0 2, Cassie Van Otterloo 0-0 0-0 0, Sienna Moss 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-43 11-17 44.

NORTH LINN (49): Hannah Bridgewater 3-3 1-2 7, Grace Flanahan 4-12 6-7 15, Ellie Ware 4-8 3-6 11, Abby Flanagan 2-5 0-0 5, Sydney Burke 3-5 2-2 10, Fallon Finnegan 0-0 0-0 0, Chloe Van Etten 0-2 1-2 1, Ellie Flanagan 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 16-37 13-19 49.

Halftime: North Linn 24, Western 17. 3-pointers: Western 3-19 (Kooima 1-6, Granstra 1-2, Abby Postma 1-7, Kollis 0-1, Vis 0-3), North Linn 4-10 (G. Flanagan 1-3, A. Flanagan 1-1, Burke 2-4, E. Flanagan 0-2). Team fouls: Western 15, North Linn 15. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: Western 26 (Granstra, Van’t Hul 8), North Linn 27 (Ware 7). Assists: Western 6 (Granstra 5), North Linn 5 (G. Flanagan 3). Steals: Western 9 (Granstra, Vis 3), North Linn 11 (G. Flanagan 7). Turnovers: Western 16, North Linn 15.

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

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