Mike Hilmer is a pacer.
The North Linn boys’ basketball coach has constant nervous energy, always walks from one end of his team’s bench to the other during a game.
On one of his final trips back and forth Friday night, in the the closing seconds of a 53-46 win over Springville, he casually spurted out something to whomever wanted to listen. It was interesting.
“This is one of the greatest wins we’ve had in a long time,” Hilmer said.
Think about that for a second. The Lynx have been to the state tournament four years in a row, played in a state championship game three years in row, winning it all in 2019.
And THIS was one of the greatest wins they’ve had in a long time.
“What I told the boys was in our regular seasons the last six years, we have had very few close games,” Hilmer explained. “We were down, but we hang around, hang around. We tell them every day, these are kids that get it. Any team can beat us any day. I thought the way they came out in the second half and executed the things we asked them to execute, that makes this a huge win.”
So Class 1A’s top-ranked team continues streaking. That’s 102 consecutive regular-season victories for North Linn (10-0), 104 straight against Tri-Rivers Conference opponents (postseason included).
The Lynx haven’t lost a regular-season game since 2016, to Monticello. They haven’t lost a regular-season TRC game since 2014, to Easton Valley by a point.
They won this one over 1A’s fourth-ranked club, also a state-tourney qualifier last year, without one of their top guys. Dylan Kurt has a knee injury and is out indefinitely.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
“We learned a lot tonight,” said North Linn’s Austin Hilmer. “Without Dylan, one of our best players, we knew it would be tough. We knew it was going to be tough against Springville. When it was halftime, we were down, we weren’t shooting it well, we really haven’t had that adversity this year. Or years past even. So it was really good to see us come back in the second half and bounce back.”
“The streak is not that important to me,” said North Linn’s Tate Haughenbury. “Winning, it is what it is. The conference is as even as it has been for a long time, so we’ll see how it goes the rest of the season. Hopefully we can keep that alive.”
Springville (11-1) seemingly had everything going for it most of this game. The Orioles spurted to a 10-2 lead, led by six after the first quarter and at halftime.
It was still 34-30 Springville after three, but North Linn went on a 13-0 run to start the fourth, a pair of 3-pointers by Ben Wheatley giving it a 43-34 lead it never relinquished.
“I think it really came down to the last three players on our team,” said Haughenbury, who had a team-high 15 points. “We started taking the ball out of me and Austin’s hands and kicked it around to other players. Ben Wheatley stepped up tremendous tonight, hit some shots.”
Luke Menster had 17 points to lead Springville, with Alex Koppes adding 15. The teams did tremendous jobs defensively in their zone and man defenses, keeping the score unexpectedly low.
When there were open shots, they just didn’t fall. Each team shot just 34 percent from the field.
“We just weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be,” said Springville Coach Nick Merritt. “They’re obviously a great defensive team. But we didn’t look like we wanted to get to the hoop and score as well as we have been. We are a much more aggressive team than that offensively. Our points per game would say that. I just thought that we were passive side to side, weren’t (getting to the hoop). Clearly we didn’t shoot well, missed a lot of bunnies. We just did not play with the same aggression we typically do.”
The teams play again Feb. 2 at Springville. We’ll all look forward to that.
AT TROY MILLS
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
SPRINGVILLE (46): Rhenden Wagaman 3-10 6-7 12, Bryce Wilson 0-3 0-0 0, Luke Menster 5-10 6-7 17, Alex Koppes 5-12 2-2 15, Grant Gloeckner 1-3 0-0 2, Tommy Hagensick 0-2 0-0 0, Jack Hoogland 0-0 0-0 0, Jake Heyer 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 14-41 14-16 46.
NORTH LINN (53): Cade Haughenbury 2-6 6-10 10, Tate Haughenbury 6-12 3-4 15, Kaleb Kurt 3-4 0-0 6, Gunner Vanourney 2-0 0-0 4, Austin Hilmer 2-13 4-6 10, Ben Wheatley 3-9 0-0 8, Tate Collum 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-53 13-20 53.
Halftime — Springville 24, North Linn 18. 3-point goals — Springville 4-21 (Wagaman 0-4, Wilson 0-2, Menster 1-4, Koppes 3-7, Gloeckner 0-1, Hagensick 0-2, Heyer 0-1), North Linn 4-18 (C. Haughenbury 0-1, Vanourney 0-3, Hilmer 2-8, Wheatley 2-6). Rebounds — Springville 34 (Wagaman, Gloeckner 7), North Linn 30 (C. Haughenbury, Hilmer 8). Total fouls — Springville 17, North Linn 15. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Springville 21, North Linn 12.
Comments: (319) 398-8259; email@example.com