Girls Basketball: North Linn Beats Monticello, Clinches Tri-Rivers Crown
By Jeff Linder and John Campbell, Reporters
TROY MILLS, Iowa And that's a wrap.
Class 2A third-ranked North Linn surrendered just 10 second-half points and clinched the Tri-Rivers Conference girls' basketball championship Tuesday night with a 57-40 victory over 3A No. 13 Monticello at North Linn High School.
Undisputed, and still undefeated: North Linn improved to 20-0 overall, 15-0 in league play. The outright title is the Lynx's first since 1998.
"It means a lot," Lynx coach Brian Wheatley said. "It's an honor to win it. This league has so many great teams, great players and great coaches.
"This is a great accomplishment."
The Lynx held a somewhat precarious 34-30 lead at intermission, but scored the first eight points of the second half, and the Panthers (15-5, 11-4) didn't get any closer than nine points again.
"Our second-half defense was great," said Nicole Miller, the Lynx's all-state sophomore guard. "We didn't allow much in the second half at all."
Five points in the third quarter. Five more in the fourth. That's it.
Now, all that stands between the Lynx and a perfect regular season is a tough road game Friday at Maquoketa Valley.
"The first time we talked about that was in the locker room, after this game," Wheatley said.
Miller posted 22 points and five assists, and Maddie Boer added 13 points to pace the Lynx.
Freshman Morgan Boer saw extensive playing time after starting post Libby Falconer fell into foul trouble, and chipped in with nine points.
Brenna Winn grabbed 14 rebounds to spearhead a 41-28 Lynx advantage on the glass.
Monticello had one lead, 19-18 early in the second quarter. But the Lynx scored eight points in a 71-second span to claim control, and didn't surrender it.
The Tri-Rivers won't look the same after this school year. Perennial contenders Cascade and Monticello are being shipped to an expanded River Valley Conference. Edgewood-Colesburg and Starmont are headed to the Upper Iowa Conference.
Joining the league are the small schools of the Big East Conference, creating a 13-team, two-division conglomeration.
"We're losing a lot of our rivals, some of our best competitors," said Maddie Boer. "So to win it this year, it's important to us.
"We've had some rough patches, some tough games. But we play together and are able to pull it out."
Paxtyn Keleher led Monticello with 14 points.