Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
The girls basketball postseason has started the same way the regular season concluded – with some winter weather-induced headaches.
Regional play began last week without a hitch but another round of snow threw a wrench into the postseason schedule early this week causing postponements and schedule shifts.
As long as mother nature cooperates the postseason will really heat up over the next several days especially with postponements condensing the regional time frame.
With the postseason schedule already slightly crunched here are five storylines to make sure to follow in what should be an exciting next couple weeks.
It was delayed by weather twice but there will be a rematch between River Valley Conference South Division rivals West Branch and Regina.
West Branch (15-4) won the first meeting between the two teams 37-28 back on January 8 and the second regular season meeting was cancelled by weather.
The postseason rematch was set for Tuesday in the 2A, Region 5 quarterfinals but was pushed back to Wednesday by more snow.
Whenever the game gets played Regina (9-10) will need to find a way to heat up against a West Branch defense that is allowing 38.5 points per game.
Regina had eight first-half points on its way to a season-low scoring total in the first meeting.
The Regals have won four of their last five following a 49-26 win over Wapello in the Region 5 opener.
West Branch lost its regular season finale 49-40 in overtime to 2A No. 10 Wilton.
The Class 5A playoffs have become an annual clash between the two premier conferences in the state as the CIML and the Mississippi Valley Conference battle for big school supremacy.
The CIML had won five consecutive 5A titles while producing nine of ten title game participants before West High became the first non-CIML team to win a 5A championship since winning its last crown in 2012.
This season the cross-conference rivalry will likely heat up before the state tournament.
Four of the eight 5A regionals pair MVC and CIML opponents as the top two seeds.
If seeds would hold half of the 5A field would be determined by MVC vs. CIML district finals including in Region 7 where West High and Waukee would meet in the postseason for the third time in four years.
The Mississippi Valley Conference was 2-0 against the CIML at the state tournament last season with City High and West High each downing CIML teams in the quarterfinals but went 0-2 in regional finals.
Potential regional final matchups include Cedar Rapids Prairie against Urbandale, West Des Moines Valley against Cedar Rapids Washington, Cedar Falls and West Des Moines Dowling and Waukee and West High.
One of the most intriguing potential CIML against MVC matchups is in Region 7 where West High and Waukee are once again on a collision course for a postseason matchup.
Waukee edged West High 70-68 in an overtime thriller in a regional final in 2016 and the Women of Troy got a bit of revenge with a 40-38 win over the Warriors in the 2017 state quarterfinals.
This season the two teams enter the postseason among the hottest teams in Class 5A.
West High (16-3) brings an eight-game winning streak into the regional tournament with wins over top-ranked City High and 4A No. 1 Marion along the way.
Waukee (16-4) has its own winning streak filled with impressive wins.
The Warriors have a seven-game win streak that features a 23-point win at 5A No. 2 Southeast Polk a 19-point win over 4A No. 2 Mason City and victories over 5A No. 9 Ankeny Centennial and No. 5 West Des Moines Valley.
Waukee is averaging 77 points per game during its winning streak and is outscoring opponents by an average of 39.5 points per game during the stretch.
Last season City High rattled off 25 consecutive wins before falling to West High in the 5A title game.
That 56-45 championship loss to West High has stuck with the Little Hawks over the last year.
City High (16-2) gets a shot at finishing what it started last season beginning with its 5A playoff opener on Saturday.
The Little Hawks won’t enter postseason play unbeaten or as the unquestioned favorite as they did last season but they are still as serious title contender as evident by a 26-point win at fourth-ranked Cedar Rapids Prairie on Friday.
Standing in the way of a third consecutive state tournament trip could be a regional final rematch with Bettendorf (15-6).
City High downed Bettendorf 65-40 in the regional title game a year ago.
The start of the postseason means the end of the year for teams and the closing of careers for players.
Just as it has been for the past several seasons the Your Prep Sports area is home to some of the top players in the state.
If you haven’t gotten an opportunity to see some of these players take advantage now while you have the chance.
* City High junior Aubrey Joens ranks seventh in the state averaging 23.4 points per game and is second in 5A in 3-point shooting hitting 49 percent of her 3-point attempts.
* West High senior Lauren Zacharias turned heads at the state tournament a year ago and has carried that over to this season. The 5-foot-5 point guard averaging 14.7 points, ranks second in 5A with 5.7 assists per game and adds 5.9 rebounds per game.
* City High junior Rose Nkumu joins Zacharias to give Iowa City two of the state’s top point guard. Nkumu is averaging 18.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.6 steals per game.
* Another in a long-line of West High standouts sophomore Audrey Koch has evolved into one of the top players in the state as a sophomore. The 5-foot-10 forward leads West High in scoring (15.5) and rebounding (7.4) in her first season as a starter.
* Clear Creek Amana junior Karsyn Stratton has battled a series of injuries but hasn’t let it affect her production. The 5-foot-9 Stratton ranks fourth in 4A in scoring at 18.9 points per game and adds 6.3 rebounds per game.
* In her first season at Regina junior Sam Greving has been a major boost for the Regals averaging 12.8 points and a team-high 7.7 rebounds per game while shooting 36 percent from 3-point range (16-of-4).
* West Branch sophomore Sasha Koenig has done a little bit of everything for the Bears this season averaging a team-high 16.6 points to go with 4.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.6 steals.
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