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Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – For the first time in three seasons Regina entered postseason play with a loss on its record.
Regina coach Jeff Wallace believes his team is more prepared than ever before for a deep postseason run.
After entering the state tournament unbeaten each of the past two seasons a scheduled featuring three games against Class 4A and 5A competition, an out-of-state trip to face a Missouri power and four games against ranked conference foes left Regina with four regular season losses.
Seventh-ranked Regina (20-4) enters Monday’s Class 2A, Region 5 title game against Danville (20-4) at Highland High School blemished but battle tested.
“We are really far ahead of where we were last year at this time and part of it is because of our schedule,” Wallace said. “We played some teams that had bigger kids, all-stater after all-stater and teams that forced us to play different ways.”
Regina lost three times before Christmas without all-state guard Mary Crompton in the line.
The Regals are 14-1 since Crompton returned on January 2 the lone loss a 14-point setback to Class 5A top-ranked City High.
That loss to the Little Hawks was just one of several games on a bulked up schedule that Wallace says has his team playing at its highest level in several seasons entering Monday’s regional final.
“Our schedule was incredibly difficult and that forced our kids to really dial into the scouting report and what the other team is really trying to do,” Wallace said. “I think that has really helped us and moving forward that will continue to really help us.”
Regina brings an eight-game winning streak into the regional final, a stretch that includes a win at 5A Cedar Rapids Kennedy, a 25-point win over 3A No. 12 Camanche, two victories over rival West Branch.
The Regals held off a late West Branch rally for a 58-50 win in the regional semifinals
“We’ve been challenged, which has gotten us prepared and that includes Friday against West Branch because they really put the heat on us,” Wallace said. “They played tremendous and we could have folded our tents and
I think a lot of teams would have folder their tents the way they were playing and we just really tried to keep our composure and got through it. We are just trying to alive and advance.”
Standing between Regina and a fourth consecutive trip to the state tournament is a Danville team riding its own hot streak.
Danville has won eight in a row and 16 of its last 17 after upsetting Mediapolis in the 63-60 in the Region 5 semifinals.
The Bears trailed 35-24 at halftime in the regional semifinal but outscored Mediapolis 39-25 in the second half.
Danville relies on its full court press to cause havoc.
The Bears rank seventh in the state and second in Class 2A with 425 steals.
“Danville is a really athletic team that really likes to press a lot,” Wallace said. “They have 420 steals on the season so they really are aggressive defensively. As a comparison we are pretty aggressive defensive team and we have 200 some steals so it’s a lot.”
Junior Alyssa Pfadenhauer leads Danville in scoring at 11.8 points per game and the 5-foot-6 guard also spearheads the Bears defensive attack.
Pfadenhauer averages 5.1 steals and 5.7 rebounds per game, both best on the team.
“There best player, Pfadenhauer is a really good track athlete, they are a really athletic team so it’s going to be a different challenge for us,” Wallace said. “They don’t know a lot about us and we don’t know a lot about them but hopefully we are prepared for this.”
When: Monday, 7 p.m.
Where: Highland High School, Riverside
Top Players: Regina – Mary Crompton Danville – Alyssa Pfadenahuer, 5-6, Sr., 11.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.1 steals; McKenzie Speer 5 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals.
About the Regals: Regina enters riding a nine-game winning streak in which it has outscored opponents by an average of better than 27 points per game.
The Regals are seeking a fourth consecutive state tournament trip after falling in the semifinals each of the past two seasons.
Regina has only one loss in 2018, a 14-point setback to 5A top-ranked City High on January 20.
About the Bears: Danville is seeking its first ever trip to the state tournament and has won eight straight following a 63-60 upset of Mediapolis in the regional semifinals. The Bears trailed 49-42 after three quarters in the Region 5 semifinals before outscoring Mediapolis 21-11 in the fourth quarter.
Danville ranks third in Class 2A in scoring defense, holding opponents to 36.5 points per game and has allowed 35 points or less in 13 of 24 games.
What to watch: Danville likes to use its speed and athleticism to put pressure on teams with its full court defense before falling back into a zone.
A key for Regina will be avoiding turnovers, especially turnovers that lead to easy scoring opportunities.
Regina has been excellent at valuing the basketball this season, ranking seventh best in 2A in fewest turnovers with just under 11 per game.