Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Each of the past two seasons for the Regina girls basketball team have followed a nearly identical script.
Consecutive unbeaten regular seasons full of lopsided wins have been preceded state semifinal losses to the eventual 2A champion.
In an effort to reverse that trend second-year Regina head coach Jeff Wallace has revamped the Regals’ non-conference schedule with an eye on preparing his team for March.
First up on that new-look non-conference slate for Class 2A sixth-ranked Regina (1-1) is a matchup with nationally ranked Incarnate Word Academy (2-0) from St. Louis on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Norm Stewart Classic in Columbia, Missouri.
“The main thing that we discussed is the schedule,” Wallace said. “We have really amped up our schedule and we feel like we have the toughest schedule in 2A by far I don’t think that’s debatable.”
Regina won 43 consecutive regular season games by an average of better than 25 points over the past two seasons.
Last season Regina had an average margin of victory of better than 31 points during the regular season and no games closer than 13 points before a 22-point semifinal loss to eventual champion Western Christian.
“We need to get our kids in more tough game situations,” Wallace said. “We have to learn how to play from behind, we have to learn how to play against bigger taller kids because that’s what we’ve really struggled with at the state tournament.
If they return to the state tournament for a fourth consecutive season next March Regina will not be unbeaten or untested.
Regina lost its season opener to fifth-ranked Bellevue and Saturday’s meeting with Incarnate Word, the 16th best prep team in the country according to USA Today, is the second of four pre-holiday meetings with ranked teams.
The schedule doesn’t relent in January for the Regals.
Regina has non-conference matchups with 4A No. 12 Cedar Rapids Xavier, 5A third-ranked City High and 5A Cedar Rapids Kennedy over the final 30 days of the regular season.
Those non-conference contests paired with a challenging River Valley Conference slate combines to create Wallace’s plan for more competitive environments.
“We are just really trying to get our kids used to playing more intense games,” Wallace said. “We had a pretty big winning margin last year, our closest game was 13 points before the state tournament and so we are trying to find teams that can really challenge us.”
The top challenge on the schedule may come Saturday against Incarnate Word who opened the season No. 16 in the USA Today Super 25 Preseason Girls Basketball Rankings and currently sits atop the Missouri small school rankings by the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
The Red Knights won their fourth state title in the past five years last season going 28-4 on their way to the Missouri Class 4 state championship.
Incarnate Word features a pair of Division I recruits in Purdue commit Rickie Woltman, a 6-foot-2, forward and DePaul signee Sonya Morris, a 5-foot-9 point guard.
“I think our kids are looking for more challenges this year,” Wallace said. “I think they want to have more games that are challenges going into the fourth quarter where we have to battle and grind it out and I think that’s where we can really grow. That is where you find growth is when you go against the really good competition.