Prep Basketball

North Linn's girls' basketball regional draw is 'refreshing'

No familiarity and a lot of miles, but the Lynx are fine with it

North Linn's Grace Flanagan (23) brings the ball downcourt during the Lynx's game against Cascade on Thursday. The Lynx
North Linn’s Grace Flanagan (23) brings the ball downcourt during the Lynx’s game against Cascade on Thursday. The Lynx open Class 2A regional play Tuesday at home against East Marshall. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

Geographically, North Linn is the outlier. Competitively, it’s a heavy favorite.

A glut of Class 2A girls’ basketball excellence in Eastern Iowa, combined with the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union’s commitment to giving the best teams the best opportunity to advance to state, meant for some creative bracketing in 2A.

As a result, North Linn is going west. Way west.

“Personally, I think it’s refreshing,” Lynx Coach Brian Wheatley said. “I don’t like the mini-conference tournaments we get sometimes. The kids are excited about it.”

No. 3 North Linn (19-2) opens at home Tuesday against East Marshall (7-14), the closest regional rival at 79 miles away. Should the Lynx advance, they will play their regional semifinal at LeGrand, their regional final at Marshalltown. All of the other teams in the bracket are located in central Iowa.

“I haven’t seen any of them in person, other than Pella Christian,” Wheatley said. “Right now, it’s a lot of film, a lot of emailing.”

A victory would get the Lynx to 20 wins for the 10th consecutive season, a remarkable accomplishment considering Iowa teams play 21 regular-season games per season. Two victories would mean a milestone for Wheatley, who has posted a 298-81 mark in 15 seasons.

“It’s not something I think about,” Wheatley said. “It’s not something you set out to do. But I’ve been fortunate to have coaches (and) a lot of great kids from great families.”

North Linn is one of five area top-10 2A teams to begin their postseason Tuesday. Like the Lynx, top-ranked Cascade (22-0) is a heavy favorite to advance to state. No. 4 MFL MarMac (19-2) and No. 10 Maquoketa Valley (17-4) are potential regional-final foes, and No. 6 West Branch (18-3) was placed in a region with No. 7 Mediapolis (20-1) and No. 9 Van Buren County (19-3).

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Four Cascade seniors — Nicole McDermott, Skylar Dolphin, Jordan Simon and Abby Welter — were in the rotation when the Cougars won the 2A state championship in 2018.

“They’ve been through a lot together,” said Cascade Coach Mike Sconsa, whose team opens at home against Clayton Ridge (3-19) on Tuesday. “We’re not overly deep, but the two kids we bring off the bench a lot, they sure don’t hurt us.”

Cascade is the only area unbeaten.

“Our record is nice, but it doesn’t matter much now,” Sconsa said. “If that’s enough and we’re not ready to play, we’ll be done early and I will have failed them as a coach.”

Class 1A regional quarterfinals are Tuesday, and No. 5 Montezuma joins the fray after earning a first-round bye. The Bravettes (20-1) face Baxter (13-9) at home.

Tuesday's Class 2A regional quarterfinals

(All games, 7 p.m.)

Region 4

West Fork (11-11) at MFL MarMac (19-2)

South Hamilton (6-13) at Grundy Center (14-7)

Denver (14-8) at Maquoketa Valley (17-4)

Aplington-Parkersburg (11-11) at Hudson (14-7)

Region 5

Clayton Ridge (3-19) at Cascade (22-0)

Alburnett (9-11) at Dyersville Beckman (8-13)

Durant (6-16) at Iowa City Regina (14-7)

Northeast (11-10) at Bellevue (12-9)

Region 6

Wilton (7-15) at West Branch (18-3)

Wapello (14-5) at Pekin (12-6)

Danville (9-13) at Mediapolis (20-1)

Louisa-Muscatine (11-9) at Van Buren County (19-3)

Region 7

East Marshall (7-14) at North Linn (19-2)

Pella Christian (3-18) at Pleasantville (8-13)

Interstate 35 (5-15) at Van Meter (13-8)

Madrid (1-20) at Woodward-Granger (17-4)

Tuesday's Class 1A regional quarterfinals

(All games, 7 p.m.)

Region 2

Mason City Newman (13-9) at Algona Garrigan (20-1)

Conrad BCLUW (15-8) at Ackley AGWSR (17-5)

Dunkerton (11-11) at Colo-Nesco (17-5)

North Butler (8-12) at East Buchanan (15-7)

Region 3

Janesville (11-11) at Saint Ansgar (18-2)

Riceville (13-9) at Clarksville (19-3)

Tripoli (14-8) at Elkader Central (19-3)

Turkey Valley (18-4) vs. Lansing Kee (15-7), at Waukon

Region 4

Clinton Prince of Peace (13-9) at Bellevue Marquette (20-1)

Central City (10-12) at Calamus-Wheatland (12-10)

Winfield-Mount Union (12-10) at Burlington Notre Dame (18-4)

Fort Madison Holy Trinity (13-9) at Lone Tree (12-10)

Region 5

Baxter (13-9) at Montezuma (20-1)

Collins-Maxwell (18-4) at Meskwaki (14-7)

Springville (18-4) vs. Iowa Valley (15-7), at Iowa City Liberty

English Valleys (13-8) at Sigourney (17-4)

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

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