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With School Out For Many, Basketball Still On Amid Snow

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MANCHESTER, Iowa - The North Linn boys' basketball team walked into West Delaware High School on a day of trying to stay warm even with class was out.

The Lynx were just like most students in Eastern Iowa. No school on Friday because of the moderate snow storm that blew through the area on Thursday night.

In anticipation of Thursday's storm, the coaches and activities directors with both North Linn and Dunkerton, the two teams meeting in the Class 1A District 5 final, had to act fast.

"They postponed it because of what weather was anticipated," North Linn head coach and activities director Mike Hilmer said. "We weren't too worried about getting there but the kids getting home. Sometimes, it is better to err on the side of safety."

Thursday's playoff postponements also led to a scramble for not just playing on Friday but finding a place. Some gyms that were available on Thursday for a neutral-court district playoff game were all booked up on Friday. That included Jesup, the original site for the North Linn-Dunkerton showdown.

Working quick, school leaders moved the game to Manchester.

North Linn let us tag along for their journey from the school, up 26 miles along Coggon Road and Highway 13, before pulling into the West Delaware parking lot. It was the trek that hundreds of teams and countless thousands of students, parents and fans made on Friday night throughout the state.

A Friday where school was out for most, with Dunkerton as an exception.

Ask any parent of a child playing a winter sport in Iowa, and they probably have a treacherous tale of getting to a gym in the middle of a blizzard.

"There's been a few hectic games that we have had to deal with," Lindsay Burkey, mother of twins on the North Linn team, admitted. "I'm not too concerned for them. Just me driving."

Tish Jacobsen, mother of one of the Dunkerton starters, said it is all part of having a child playing sports in the winter.

"We pray before they go and just trust that God is going to get them there safe and bring them home safe," Jacobsen said. "You follow your kid to the ends of the earth for sports and we love it."

This comes as the backdrop from an Interstate 80 crash on Friday morning near Colfax. The Simpson College softball team was en route to a tournament in the upper peninsula of Michigan when the team's bus crashed into a jack-knifed semi. No team members were seriously injured.

In February and March, college teams from the region often travel out of state for long stretches of baseball or softball games in warmer weather. In 2007, five members of the Bluffton, Ohio University baseball team were killed in a bus crash in Atlanta as the team was heading to a tournament in Florida.

The last notable crash involving an Eastern Iowa athletic team bus was in December 2010 when, on an icy Saturday morning, the Iowa City City High JV wrestling team's bus overturned on U.S. 218 near Riverside, injuring at least seven people on the bus.

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