SPRINGVILLE - For three quarters, class 2A third-ranked North Linn was getting everything they could ask out of host Springville in a huge Tri-Rivers Conference showdown Tuesday, Jan. 14.
The Lynx have been the dominant team in the league for the last several years, and the winner of the colossal contest would have a big leg up in the race for the league title.
For a while, it appeared the Orioles might very well have been that team.
“I thought we came out and played a great first half, especially on the defensive end,” said Springville girls basketball coach Christina Zaruba, as her team had North Linn fans in shock leading 27-26 at the half and trailing just 41-38 after three frames.
“We made North Linn change their game plan a little and we were going to make darn sure that if we were going to get beat, it wasn’t going to be a Flanagan doing it to us. Nia Howard and Savannah Nealman stepped up and played some great defense against the Flanagan girls and we did everything in our power to stay in the game for the first three quarters.”
The final frame however, would be all Lynx who used a 22-6 spurt to close out a 63-44 victory over the scrappy Springville (10-2, 3-2) squad.
“We just ran out of gas in the fourth,” said Zaruba, as her team was held to just one fourth quarter field goal (a Molly Stamp 3-pointer with nine-seconds remaining). “That, and we just stopped shooting the basketball. Even though the game didn’t end like we hoped it would, we showed that we can play with anyone. I hope the girls realize that too, we went right with one of the best 2A teams in the state and had them on the ropes after three quarters. North Linn had the big fourth quarter and hit the shots and free throws. We didn’t, this time.”
While the ball-hawking Oriole defense held Abby Flanagan to a mere two points in the game, others did step up for the visitors as Sydney Burke tallied a game-high 19 points.
Morgan Nachazel had a big night for the hosts, scoring 16 of her team-high 17 points in the first half while Lauren Wilson added 16 to go with six rebounds, five assists, five blocked shots and two steals. Grace Matus drilled two treys and finished with six points.
“The final margin may have been 19 points, but this wasn’t a 19-point type of game,” Zaruba said. “I am proud of our girls. They played a great game, next time we just need to finish it off.”
Springville showed no signs of letdown following their loss to the highly-ranked Lynx, crushing host Starmont Thursday, Jan. 16, with a lopsided 71-26 rout that was never in doubt.
“We dominated the entire game and got off to a great start holding them to just three points in the first quarter,” Zaruba said. “We pretty much did whatever we wanted on both ends of the floor and everyone gave us something in this game.”
The Orioles exploded for 22 points in the opening frame and held a commanding 19-point advantage at the first horn before extending it to 50-11 at the half as Wilson, Nachazel, Nealman and Matus shot lights out before the team took their foot off the gas in the second half.
“We were able to get a lot of girls on the floor for extended playing time, which is always great,” Zaruba said. “We were able to create a lot of turnovers with our press and weren’t just getting lay-ups, but we also shot it pretty well from 3-point land too going 5-for-11.”
Wilson recorded a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds while Nachazel finished with 15 points and four steals. Nealman added 11 points while Matus connected on three of those five total treys and tallied nine points.