Prep Basketball

Blinding rally carries North Linn to the 2A girls' state basketball tournament final

Lynx close out West Hancock with a shocking 36-9 run

DES MOINES — It was a comeback that came out of left field. Or maybe it came out of nowhere.

But North Linn made it, and made it stick.

Down by 12 points midway through the third quarter, the third-ranked Lynx finished with a stunning 36-9 explosion and subdued No. 2 West Hancock, 61-46, in a Class 2A semifinal at the girls’ state basketball tournament Friday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena.

Sometimes it just takes a couple of shots to get you going,” Lynx Coach Brian Wheatley said. “We got a couple to go down, then we got some stops.

“I couldn’t be prouder.”

North Linn (24-2) plays for the 2A championship at 5 p.m. Saturday against No. 5 Osage (24-2), which pulled a surprise of its own, 46-32 over No. 1 Cascade.

It was the second come-from-behind win this week for the Lynx, who rallied past Western Christian in the quarterfinals Wednesday. This one was more urgent.

West Hancock (25-2) enjoyed a 32-21 lead at halftime, and it was 37-25 when Rachel Leerar made two free throws with 4:36 left in the third quarter.

There wasn’t much to suggest the Lynx would rally. But they did.

“We talked at halftime about the little things we needed to do better,” Grace Flanagan said. “Something had to click.”

Then, all of a sudden, everything did.

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Flanagan scored seven straight points, Sydney Burke nailed a 3-pointer, and the Lynx were within 37-35.

Madison Eisenman hit a long 3-pointer with 1:20 left in the quarter to make it 40-35, but the Eagles didn’t score again from the field until 2:19 remained in the game, and by then, it was too late.

With 6:18 left, Ellie Ware scored on a feed from Hannah Bridgewater to give North Linn its first lead, 42-41. Moments later, in the game’s pivotal moment, Ware drew a charge from West Hancock post Amanda Chizek.

Chizek went to the bench with five fouls, and Ware went to the tunnel to go through concussion protocol. She passed and later returned.

Meanwhile, the Lynx continued to roll.

Abby Flanagan scored on a backdoor cut to make it 45-41. Burke hit a couple of free throws. Chloe Van Etten added a basket on an aggressive drive. Bridgewater went to the line twice and made 3 of 4.

On and on it went, eventually turning into a free-throw parade. North Linn made 17 of 24 in the fourth quarter, 31 of 43 in the game.

Grace Flanagan led the Lynx with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Burke had her second big game here this week, scoring 16.

“I had been struggling in the postseason, but everybody told me at state, I’d turn it around,” Burke said. “I hit my first 3 (in the first round), and I thought, ‘I’m back.’”

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North Linn will be making its second trip to the finals. The Lynx finished second to Unity Christian in 2015.

The Flanagan twins and Bridgewater are among players that played key roles on North Linn’s run to the state softball title last summer.

“It’s kind of the same, kind of different,” Abby Flanagan said. “Both ways, it feels really great to win.”

Leerar led West Hancock with 17 points. The Eagles were 3 of 22 (13.6 percent) from the floor in the second half.

NORTH LINN 61, WEST HANCOCK 46

2A State Semifinal, at Des Moines

NORTH LINN (61): Hannah Bridgewater 0-2 6-8 6, Grace Flanagan 3-11 12-15 19, Ellie Ware 3-5 4-6 10, Abby Flanagan 3-11 1-2 7, Sydney Burke 3-4 7-10 16, Fallon Finnegan 0-0 0-0 0, Sam Rechkemmer 0-0 0-0 0, Chloe Van Etten 1-1 1-2 3, Ella Ries 0-0 0-0 0, Elise Ware 0-1 0-0 0, Evalyn Robinson 0-0 0-0 0, Emma Ries 0-0 0-0 0, Emilie Hass 0-0 0-0 0, Maddie Stepanek 0-0 0-0 0, Ellie Flanagan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-35 31-43 61.

WEST HANCOCK (46): Rachel Leerar 5-17 6-8 17, Madison Eisenman 2-5 0-1 6, Mahayla Faust 3-10 0-0 8, Riley Hiscocks 1-5 2-2 5, Amanda Chizek 3-4 1-2 7, Emily Ryerson 0-0 0-0 0, Kennedy Kelly 1-7 1-2 3, Ann Horstman 0-0 0-0 0, Scout Johanson 0-0 0-0 0, Shae Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Makayla Hartman 0-0 0-0 0, Leah Aitchison 0-0 0-0 0, Parker Hiscocks 0-0 0-0 0, Carlee Bruns 0-1 0-0 0, Shelby Goepel 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-49 10-15 46.

Halftime: West Hancock 32, North Linn 21. 3-point goals: North Linn 4-10 (G. Flanagan 1-3, A. Flanagan 0-3, Burke 3-4), West Hancock 6-23 (Leerar 1-6, Eisenman 2-5, Faust 2-4, R. Hiscocks 1-5, Kelly 0-3). Team fouls: North Linn 16, West Hancock 27. Fouled out: Chizek. Rebounds: North Linn 35 (G. Flanagan 10), West Hancock 33 (Chizek 10). Assists: North Linn 8 (Bridgewater 5), West Hancock 7 (Leerar 3). Steals: North Linn 8 (Bridgewater 4), West Hancock 12 (R. Hiscocks, Kelly 3). Turnovers: North Linn 15, West Hancock 16.

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

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