Qualifying for the state championship game is no easy task, but you wouldn’t know it from watching Bishop Garrigan play basketball over the past three seasons. The Golden Bears defeated North Linn 74-57 on Friday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena to advance to the 1A title game for the third season in a row, and will try to write a different finish to the story than the past two seasons.
In order to get to the championship, Bishop Garrigan first had to go through North Linn, a team making their seventh state appearance in the past nine seasons, and first in class 1A after moving down a class from 2A.
After a sluggish start that saw the game tied at six after five minutes of play, freshman Zoe Montag jump started the Golden Bear attack, hitting her first three pointer of the half. Montag didn’t stop there, hitting two more triples in half number one coming off the bench, helping Bishop Garrigan build a 38-24 lead. Outside of Montag’s three of four performance on threes in the first half, the rest of the Golden Bears hit zero out of eight three point tries in the first two quarters.
Montag says that she had the green light with the looks North Linn was showing defensively.
In spite of the halftime deficit, North Linn wouldn’t go quietly, making a major push in the third quarter and the first half of the fourth. The Lynx used prolific shooting, including hitting 8 of their 13 field goal attempts in the third, to close the gap to a 56-52 deficit with 5:10 left in the game. North Linn could get no closer however, as Bishop Garrigan closed the game on an 18-5 scoring run, thanks in part to making 15 of 16 free throw attempts over the final 5:10 of the game, as part of a 22/25 night at the charity stripe.
The Lynx finished the night at 50% shooting, including 7/12 on three pointers, but it wasn’t enough, as Bishop Garrigan used 25 points and 16 rebounds from junior Audi Crooks to command a 36-14 advantage on the glass and a 40-20 edge in points in the paint.
North Linn came into the game taking over 43% of their shot attempts from three point range but took just 12 of their 40 shots from downtown on Friday. Lynx head coach Brian Wheatley says although the three point attempts were lower than usual, he can’t think of many missed opportunities to take threes.
Bishop Garrigan head coach Brandon Schwab says the Lynx hit tough shots against good defense.
Kamryn Kurt finished the game with 19 points on 7/10 shooting including 4/4 on threes for North Linn, and was a part of a Lynx offense that threw a kitchen sink of screens and backdoor cuts at the Golden Bears throughout the night.
Bishop Garrigan sophomore Abbie Capesius feels North Linn’s speed and aggressiveness were what made the game such a tough matchup.
Coach Schwab says that because of the way North Linn worked to create advantageous matchups throughout the night, it became a game of adjustments.
Montag says the Golden Bears were able to execute the plan of attack they had coming into the night.
Junior Molly Joyce finished with 25 points and 5 assists for Bishop Garrigan, while sophomore Macy Boge scored 12 in the loss for the Lynx.
Joyce was focused on bringing energy on both offense, and in guarding Kurt on defense.
Coach Wheatley knows that even though losing at state is painful, making it this far is a great accomplishment.
With the victory, Bishop Garrigan has won 21 consecutive games, improving their record to 24-3, and will now face MMCRU on Saturday night for the class 1A state title. MMCRU is looking for their first ever state title after defeating top seeded Newell-Fonda on Friday in a shocking 66-62 upset, ending the chance for a Mustang four-peat. MMCRU is 25-1, with the only loss being a 62-61 defeat at the hands of class 3A semifinalist Unity Christian on February 8th.
Bishop Garrigan will have the opportunity to prove that the third time is the charm after losing in the past two state championship games to Newell-Fonda by scores of 65-63 in 2020 and 66-52 in 2021.
Tipoff of Saturday’s game is at 7:00 P.M. from Wells Fargo Arena, and you can hear all the pregame coverage starting at 6:35 on KLGA 92.7 FM.