CEDAR RAPIDS – Back on the Rivalry Saturday stage for the second time in three seasons, sixth-ranked Van Buren County came out of Saturday feeling like a winner despite coming up short on the scoreboard.
Grace Flanagan hit the only field goal in overtime and scored four of the six points in the extra four minutes, helping second-ranked North Linn edge the Warriors 51-47 in a thrilling battle at Kohawk Arena. Grace and Abby Flanagan combined for 24 of the 51 points scored by the Lynx in what could be a preview of the Class 2A girls state basketball tournament should the two teams meet again in February.
“Our girls aren’t scared of anything any more. They just go play,” Van Buren County head girls basketball coach Matt Zeitler said. “I think we wore down a little bit in overtime. We tried to get looks inside for Taryn (Scheuermann) and Isabel (Manning). They both missed bunnies. That’s just a by-product of only having five days of practice.”
Scheuermann scored 16 points and pulled in 13 rebounds, both game highs, while collecting five blocks in the second half. Manning added 14 points and three steals as the Warriors overcame a 16-0 run in the first half by North Linn that answered a 7-0 start to the game by Van Buren County.
The Warriors trailed 29-21 late in the first half after a steal and breakaway lay-up by Abby Flanagan, two of the 11 points in the game for the North Linn senior. Manning drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half, kicking off what would be a 13-0 run for the Warriors that included holding the Lynx without a field goal for over seven minutes to open the second half before a 3-pointer from Ellie Flanagan pulled North Linn within 34-32.
“At one point, one of the officials came up to me and mentioned how this was like a volleyball match. It was such a roller coaster with the way momentum swung back and forth,” Zeitler said. “It finally kind of leveled out in the final quarter. From that point, you had to fight for anything you could get.”
Back-to-back field goals from Sydney Burke evened the score at 36-36 early in the fourth quarter before Elise Ware’s go-ahead jumper with 5:33 left put North Linn up 38-36. Abby Flanagan’s 3-pointer with under four minutes left briefly gave North Linn a 44-40 lead before Madison Bartholomew answered with a 3 and hit two free throws after a stop, giving Van Buren County a 45-44 lead with 1:25 left.
North Linn regained the lead with 25 seconds left in regulation on a lay-up by Chloe Vanetten. Bartholomew, who finished with 11 points for the Warriors, drew a foul with 11.6 second left on a 3-point attempt but could only hit one of the three free throws. Scheuermann came up with a steal in the final seconds, but a half-court heave by Manning came up short in Van Buren County’s bid to earn the win in regulation.
The Warriors finished the night shooting 29 percent from the field, bogged down by an 0-8 performance in overtime. Manning had Van Buren’s only point in overtime, splitting two free throws with 25.6 seconds left to pull the Warriors within 50-47, before a free throw with 7.9 seconds left from Ware clinched the win for North Linn.
Van Buren’s debut on the stage of Rivalry Saturday two years ago ended with a tough loss to Algona Garrigan. The Warriors committed 21 turnovers, leading to 27 points for the Golden Bears in a 71-53 loss. Scheuermann led Van Buren in that game with 21 points, hitting nine of 13 field goal attempts including a 3-pointer that opened the scoring just as the future UNI Panther did on Saturday drilling the opening shot of the game after winning the opening tipoff.
“It feels so much better coming off this court this year knowing we played a team that went to the state tournament last year and are ranked No. 2 right now,” Manning said. “It shows we can play with them. We can go to the state tournament and finish the year playing with anyone we might run up against. It’s an amazing feeling to know we’re at that level.”
Up next for No. 6 (2A) Van Buren County (1-1, 1-0) is a busy week that includes Southeast Iowa Superconference south division contests with West Burlington on Tuesday and Cardinal, coached by former Warrior standout and assistant coach Makenzie Ostrander, on Friday. The Warriors finish the week at home next Saturday hosting Winfield-Mount Union in an SEISC cross-over.