Written by John Kuhens on March 2, 2015

Burlington Notre Dame is another step closer to a second consecutive Class 1A state championship. In a matchup of champions from the past two years, top-ranked Notre Dame pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat unranked Central Lyon 78-60 in first-round action. 

The victory in the back-and-forth game sends Notre Dame (24-1) into Wednesday night’s semifinals against No. 7 Newell-Fonda. It’s a rematch of last year’s title game, which the Nikes won 57-55.

 All-state guard Taylor Hickey led Notre Dame with 21 points on 7-for-10 shooting. Three others scored in double figures for the Nikes — Kori Mesecher with 17, Courtney Coffin with 13 and Riley Kilbride with 11.Mesecher grabbed nine rebounds, while Coffin had four of her team’s 14 steals.

 Sarah Halse led Central Lyon with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Ivy Sieperda scored 13 for the Lions and Angel Rasmussen had 12. Central Lyon owned a 38-31 rebounding advantage but couldn’t overcome its 24 turnovers.

 Notre Dame led by as many as 11 points in the first half before Central Lyon rallied to go up 48-42 onHalse’s transition layup with 3:33 left in the third quarter. A 7-0 run got Notre Dame back in it and with 6 1/2 minutes left, it was tied at 51.

 That’s when the Nikes took over, forcing turnovers and getting to the basket for close-in shots. Kilbride’s layup and three-point play got the Nikes started and they outscored the Lions 18-2 over the next 4 minutes to open a 69-53 lead and secure their berth in the semifinals.

 Central Lyon, the 1A volleyball runner-up in November, won the basketball championship in 2013 in its first-ever trip to state. The Lions close out their second trip with an 18-7 record.

Other 1A winners:  Exira-Elk Horn-Kimballton and Springville.

2A winners:  Unity Christian, S. Central Calhoun and North Linn

The Class 3A field opens the tournament on Tuesday. The #1 ranked and undefeated Mediapolis Bullettes begin their quest for a state title. They will be playing unranked Mt. Vernon, but don’t let the fact they are unranked affect how serious you take this team. They entered the 2010 tournament unranked and went on to win the championship. An injury to Kaitlyn Volesky their sophomore center led to 7 of their losses. With her in the lineup scoring 15 points a game the Mustangs are 13-1. KILJ-FM 105.5 and will carry the game live beginning at 11:45 a.m.

The 4th ranked  Ft. Madison Bloodhound boys basketball team fell short in Their quest for a class 3A boys state tournament bid.  #2 Williamsburg edged the Hounds by one point in overtime 65-64 at Muscatine.  Williamsburg will play Glenwood in the 1st round of the State Tournament.  Other 3A qualifiers are:  Dallas-Center-Grimes, Lemars, Waverly Shell Rock, Dubuque Wahlert, Pella and C.R. Xavier. 

The Southeast Conference wrestling coaches announced their all conference selections. MPHS had several 2nd team all conference wrestlers.

Colten Mertens was named 2nd team all conference, along with Connor Eads, Rob Pohren, Noah Brown and Jackson Kelly.

The IHSAA has been bouncing the class 1A state tournament basketball schedule around, and finally Monday got it set in stone.  The Danville Bears will play at 3:45 p.m. Monday March 9th against the 22-4 Britt West Hancock team.  KILJ-FM and will carry the game live.