COUNCIL BLUFFS — Steve Emanuel didn't fault Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln's strategy on Thursday afternoon.

However, the Omaha Gross girls basketball coach was pleased to see his team show that it can indeed hit an open jump shot.

Gross executed well against the Lynx's first-half zone defense, creating a 32-17 lead at the intermission that led to a 51-35 nonconference matinee victory at the A.L. Fieldhouse.

Abraham Lincoln coach Chad Schaa had scouted Gross last Friday in the Waverly Holiday Tournament. In that game, Gross shot 18 percent against a zone in a 45-23 loss to Nebraska Class B No. 4 Waverly.

“We couldn't hit the broad side of a barn,” Emanuel said.

On Thursday, Gross loosened up A.L.'s 2-1-2 zone by hitting 3 of 8 from 3-point range – two by sophomore Kayla Johnk and one by junior Alexa Van Haute -- and also passing the ball well. That led to some Lynx fouls and a 9-of-10 Cougar effort from the free-throw line in the first half.

The quick start helped Class B Gross improve its record to 6-3, while Abraham Lincoln, which plays in the largest of Iowa's five classes, dropped to 8-2.

“Give them a lot of credit,” Schaa said. “They made their free throws and they knocked down some perimeter shots.”

The 5-foot-4 Johnk and the 5-4 Van Haute sank back-to-back 3s late in the first quarter, highlighting a 14-0 Gross run that turned a 5-4 lead into a 19-4 advantage.

Abraham Lincoln made just 2 of 16 (12.5 percent) from the field in the first quarter, and never truly recovered. Lauren Meeker's 3 pulled the Lynx within 21-12 with 4:10 left in the first half. But Johnk's basket capped a 7-0 Gross burst that pushed it back to 28-12, and the Lynx never got closer than 11 the rest of the way.

Even though his team entered the new year with a flashy record, Schaa knows it still has some work to do in order to reach Iowa's upper echelon. The Lynx aren't rated in the state's top 10, but they do have some opportunities in the next couple weeks to show that they've made strides, with games against Class 4-A No. 1 Sioux City Heelan (7-1) and Treynor (7-1) among others.

A.L. hadn't played in 13 days, and Schaa hopes his club will bounce back with more consistency in the next few games.

“We've just really got to turn it up a little bit,” Schaa said. “We've just got to get some of that sluggishness out of us.”

A.L. finished an icy 14 of 56 (25.0 percent) from the field and 5 of 16 (31.3 percent) from the line. Meeker, a 5-10 senior, led the way with eight points and eight rebounds.

Senior Julie Olechoski paced Gross with 16 points and four steals, as the Cougar pressure forced 21 turnovers. She said her team was excited to get back on the court after losses to the host school and South Sioux City (59-48) at Waverly.

“We were anxious to get a new start,” she said. “We just knew we had to come in with a chip on our shoulder from the Waverly tournament. We just got the passing to go for us, working together so we could get the open looks.”

Joelle Overkamp, a 5-10 junior, added 15 points, 12 rebounds and three assists for the winners. She joins 6-0 senior Alex Opperman and sophomore Johnk as returning starters from last year's 12-10 squad.

“We played defense well,” Emanuel said. “We struggled with that, coming out of the holiday break. The girls really did a nice job of that, and playing the tempo that we wanted to play.”

Omaha Gross (6-3)...................................17 15 9 10—51

CB Abraham Lincoln (8-2).........................4 13 7 11—35

G: Kayla Johnk 2-7 2-2 8, Renee Lohaus 1-7 1-2 3, Joelle Overkamp 5-13 5-6 15, Julie Olechoski 6-11 4-4 16, Alex Opperman 1-4 1-2 3, Lynsey Matulka 1-3 1-2 3, Alexa Van Haute 1-4 0-0 3, Kelsey Ackerman 0-1 0-0 0, Lindsey Cavlovic 0-0 0-2 0, Carly Sledge 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-50 14-20 51.

AL: Ali Heithoff 3-8 0-2 6, Delaney Bolton 2-5 2-6 6, Lauren Meeker 3-11 1-4 8, Taylor Volentine 1-8 2-2 4, Olivia Leisinger 3-11 0-2 6, Maddy Rief 2-7 0-0 5, Hannah Hennings 0-1 0-0 0, Kelsey Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Alexa Murphy 0-2 0-0 0, Maddie Kinney 0-1 0-0 0, Lauren Colpitts 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 14-56 5-16 35.

3-point goals: G 3-12 (Johnk 2-6, Van Haute 1-2, Lohaus 0-1, Olechoski 0-1, Overkamp 0-2), AL 2-11 (Rief 1-4, Meeker 1-4, Heithoff 0-1, Volentine 0-1, Hennings 0-1). Total fouls: G 13, AL 19. Fouled out: none. Technical fouls: none. Rebounds: G 39 (Overkamp 12), AL 38 (Meeker 8). Assists: G 14 (Johnk 4), AL 9 (Bolton 3, Volentine 3). Steals: G 11 (Olechoski 4), AL 11 (Bolton 4). Turnovers: G 18, AL 21.

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