Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
The holiday break serves as the unofficial midway point for the high school basketball season.
In reality the season is only about a third of the way over but the last month provided a glimpse into what teams are capable of in January and February and who will still be playing in March.
As 2019 gets closer we take a look at what we learned about the girls basketball teams in the area during the 2018 portion of the schedule.
Here are six things learned about Your Prep Sports teams so far this season.
There was some question about how the defending 5A runner-up Little Hawks would perform in the first season without last seasons’ Miss Basketball Ashley Joens who graduated as the school’s all-time leading scorer.
So far City High has done fine without its top scorer and rebounder from a year ago.
City High is 8-0, ranked No. 1 in Class 5A and one of only three unbeaten teams in the largest class.
The Little Hawks needed overtime to outlast West High and a late rally to edge 4A fifth-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier in its final game of 2018 but brings a 35-game regular season winning streak into 2019.
City High has been balanced this season with the junior trio of Aubrey Joens, Rose Nkumu and Paige Rocca all scoring at career-high clips as the Little Hawks are putting up nearly 70 points per game.
Koch came off the bench to average 4.8 points per game last season as a freshman on West High’s state title team but has emerged as a bona fide star for the Women of Troy this year.
The 5-foot-10 sophomore leads 5A No. 11 West High (6-2) in scoring (18.4) and rebounding (8.8) while shooting better than 60 percent from the field.
Koch already has four 20-point games already this season and grabbed 17 rebounds in a loss to City High.
Oh, and she also ranks second on the team in assists and steals.
West Branch closed a 17-7 season a year ago by winning 14 of its final 17 games but much like City High had to adjust to life without one of the best players in program history following the graduation of all-stater Tatum Koenig.
So far, so good for the young Bears.
West Branch has navigated a rugged early season schedule with a roster filled with underclassmen and brings an 8-2 record and No. 14 ranking in Class 2A into 2019.
The Bears start two sophomores and two juniors and get regular contributions from a freshman and sophomore off the bench but have been unphased by a tough pre-holiday schedule that featured road trips to top-10 teams Bellevue and Cascade.
City High freshman Eviyon Richardson burst onto the scene by exploding for a career-high 20 points including the go-ahead 3-pointer in an overtime win over West High.
Richardson has been solid in her first prep season averaging 6.2 points for top-ranked City High and is part of a strong group of area freshmen.
West High freshman Emma Ingersoll-Weng scored 15 points in her varsity debut and is averaging 7.5 points per game for the Women of Troy.
Solon has a pair of freshmen in its top three in scoring led by Makinley Levine (8.8) points per game while Kaia Holtkamp (5.1) is third on the team in scoring.
Clear Creek Amana freshman Calia Clubb is averaging 4.3 points and leads the Clippers with 7.7 rebounds per game.
As the midway point of the River Valley Conference season approaches the South Division race is shaping up to be a doozy.
Five of the seven teams in the RVC South Division are .500 or better with the top three teams separated by just two games.
Wilton enters 2019 leading the way at 8-1 with West Branch (7-2) and Mid-Prairie (6-3) right on the Beavers’ heels.
West Branch won the first meeting with Wilton and has already faced North Division leads Bellevue and Cascade while Wilton still has both waiting on the schedule in January.
Don’t count out Regina just yet.
The Regals lost three of four after an injury to senior all-state center Alex Wiese in the opener but went 2-2 in their final four games of 2018.
Regina has won every South Division title since the RVC was formed and has won 10 consecutive conference titles and won’t go down without a fight.