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DES MOINES — Don Bosco threw the first punch. North Linn took a timeout and responded in full force.

Class 1A’s top-seeded Lynx used their pressure and up-tempo offense to advance to the championship game with a 74-51 semifinal win over Don Bosco Wednesday inside Wells Fargo Arena.

The Dons (23-4) were flawless for the game’s first four minutes as point guard Jack Kelley’s layup forced North Linn (28-0) to burn a quick timeout.

“I think our kids came fired up,” Don Bosco coach Nate Kellogg said. “I don’t want to say we smacked them in the mouth, but we kind of surprised them a little bit. I think they’re used to teams playing scared against them. We talked to our guys, you’ve got to attack them, you’ve got to go at them.”

A Lynx team that took a 26-0 record into last year’s semifinal before losing to Gladbrook-Reinbeck recovered quickly. Guards Jake Hilmer and Ryan Miller locked down the passing lanes and quickly converted turnovers into points during a 23-0 run into the second quarter that gave North Linn control of the game.

Hillmer finished with 29 points, Miller added 25 and forward Trevor Boge burned Don Bosco for playing off him with three 3-pointers and 15 points. Punishing even the slightest miscue, North Linn turned a 20-11 turnover advantage into a 28-7 edge in points off turnovers.

“It’s something that you’re not going to get close to simulating,” Kelley said. “We knew it was going to be tough coming in and they showed that they’re a great team.”

Despite trailing by as many as 22 points early in the second quarter, Don Bosco did fight back and cut the deficit to 11 twice in the second half.

Zach Huff led the Dons with 15 points and hit 3 of 4 3-pointers. Zach Nie knocked down four 3-pointers and scored 14 on 5 of 7 shooting.

Don Bosco’s defense also held North Linn to six points in the third quarter. This marked the first game all season North Linn has played in which a continuous clock wasn’t set in motion for a 35-point lead.

“Our guys were looking forward to the challenge,” Nie said. “As competitors that’s what you look for. I’m proud of our guys, the way we fought back. We didn’t give up second half. They’re a great team and there’s nothing to take away from them.”

A Don Bosco team that has reached its first state tournament in 30 years and recorded the program’s first state win on Monday, will play for third place 10:30 a.m. Thursday against Remsen St. Mary’s.

North Linn 74, Don Bosco 51

DON BOSCO (23-4) — Jack Kelley 4-12 0-2 8, Zach Huff 6-10 0-0 15, Zach Nie 5-7 0-0 14, Cael Tenold 3-4 2-2 8, Sean McFadden 3-4 0-0 6, Gabe Fernandez 0-0 0-0 0, Michael Allen 0-0 0-0 0, Lewis Havel 0-1 0-0 0, Luke Becker 0-0 0-0 0, Kendall Becker 0-0 0-0 0, Clayton Weber 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-38 2-4 51.

NORTH LINN (28-0) — Jake Hilmer 10-16 9-13 29, David Seber 0-2 1-2 1, Ryan Miller 9-13 6-7 25, Trevor Boge 5-8 2-2 15, Adam Waskow 2-5 0-0 4, Austin Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Brad Pflughaupt 0-0 0-0 0, Josh Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Sean Boardman 0-1 0-0 0, Carter Johnson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-45 18-24 74.

Don Bosco 12 13 13 13 — 51

North Linn 26 19 6 23 — 74

3-point goals — DB 7-14 (Kelley 0-3, Huff 3-4, Nie 4-6, Havel 0-1), NL 4-12 (Hilmer 0-1, Seber 0-2, Miller 1-4, Boge 3-5). Rebounds — DB 21 (McFadden 8), NL 21 (Waskow 5). Assists — DB 11 (Huff 5), NL 11 (Hilmer 5). Steals — DB 4 (four at 1), NL 16 (Miller 5). Turnovers — DB 20 (Kelley 7), NL 9 (Hilmer 6). Total fouls — DB 19, NL 7. Fouled out — none.

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for The Courier

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