Girls Basketball Capsules: Taking a Quick Look at Area Girls Basketball Teams

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Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

City High

Coach: Bill McTaggart (21st season)

Assistant coaches: Fred Riddle, Jeremy Wells, Lynsey Barnard

Last season: 19-3 (5A State Quarterfinals)

Returning starters: Rose Nkumu, 5-8, Sr.; Paige Rocca, 5-8, Sr.; Aubrey Joens, 5-9, Sr.; Ella Cook, 5-10, Jr.; Eviyon Richardson, 5-10, Soph.

Other returning letterwinners: CeCe Kelly-Harvey 5-9, Jr.; Andie Westlake, 5-10, Soph.; Kacie Earl, 6-0, Soph.; Carey Koenig, 5-5, Jr.; Georgia Kimm, 5-6, Soph.

Newcomers to watch: Kelsey Joens, 5-10, Fr.

Top returning scorers: Aubrey Joens 23; Rose Nkumu 19; Paige Rocca 9.6

Top returning rebounders: Aubrey Joens 7.2; Ella Cook 5.4; Rose Nkumu 5.4

Headliner: Iowa State recruit Aubrey Joens is coming off the best season of her career last season when she ranked ninth in the state in scoring at 23 points per game and led the Little Hawks with 7.2 rebounds per game.

Keep an eye on: Senior point guard Rose Nkumu is a Marquette recruit that ranks among the top playmakers in the state. Nkumu averaged 19 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.9 steals per game.

Circle the date: February 1 vs. West Des Moines Dowling. City High caps an important two-day stretch by hosting second-ranked West Des Moines Dowling in a Saturday afternoon non-conference matinee.

Breakdown: Expectations are again sky-high at City High as the Little Hawks open the season ranked atop the Class 5A rankings

All five starters return from a team that went 19-3 and made a third consecutive state tournament appearance a year ago.

City High boasts perhaps the best backcourt in the state with a trio of Division I signees in Joens, Nkumu and Missouri State recruit Paige Rocca.

Rocca averaged 9.6 points and four rebounds per game a year ago.

Junior Ella Cook returns after averaging 7.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while sophomore Eviyon Richardson averaged 4.3 points and 3.6 rebounds last season.

City High will also get a boost from the addition of 5-foot-10 freshman Kelsey Joens.

West High

Coach: BJ Mayer (13th season)

Assistant coaches: Nate Freese, Erika Mundt, Jesse Searls, Molly DeBrock

Last season: 17-4

Returning starters: Audrey Koch, 5-11, Jr.; Matayia Tellis, 5-5, Jr.

Other returning letterwinners: Emma Ingersoll Weng, 5-5, Soph.; Avery Vest, 5-5, Soph.; Grace Schneider, 5-8, Sr.

Newcomers to watch: Carolyn Pierce, 5-6, Fr.; Anna Prouty, 5-11, Fr.; Lexi Hackman, 5-11, Fr.; Meena Tate, 5-7, Fr.; Liv Williams, 5-10, Jr.

Top returning scorers: Audrey Koch 16.3; Cora Saunders 12.5; Matayia Tellis 7.6

Top returning rebounders: Audrey Koch 7.0; Matayia Tellis 3.8;

Headliner: Audrey Koch emerged as one of the top talents in the state last season when she led the Women of Troy in scoring (16.3) and rebounding (7) during a breakthrough sophomore season.

Keep an eye on: Liberty High transfer Cora Saunders averaged a team-high 12.5 points per game last season for the Lightning while shooting 44 percent from 3-point range.

Circle the date: January 31 vs. City High. The second of two regular season meetings between the two cross-town rivals is at West High where the Women of Troy earned a 14-point win over City High last season.

Breakdown: West High came up just shy of return to the state tournament last season falling at Waukee in a regional final.

The Women of Troy will attempt to reverse that trend this season as they seeking their sixth state tournament trip in the past 10 seasons.

West High returns a star in the 5-foot-10 Koch who shot 58 percent from the field and 36 percent from the 3-point line while averaging 16.3 points per game last season.

Junior point guard Matayia Tellis also returns after averaging 7.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game and gives West High a top notch perimeter defender.

West High should get a boost with the addition of Cora and Jenna Saunders who transferred from Liberty High as well as freshman Carolyn Pierce, Anna Prouty, Lexi Hackman and Meena Tate.

Sophomore Avery Vest and senior Grace Schneider will also both be looked to step into expanded roles.

Liberty High

Coach: Jaime Brandt (3rd season)

Assistant coaches: Jeff Printy, Tom McGrane, Jeremy Mims

Last season: 3-17

Returning starters: Sam McPherson, 5-9, Sr.; Isabel Smith, 6-0, Sr.

Other returning letterwinners: Haley Napoli, 5-7, Soph.

Newcomers to watch: Keiko Ono-Fullard, 5-6, Fr.; Avery Gaudet, 5-7, Fr.

Top returning scorers: Sam McPherson 7.6; Isabel Smith 4.7

Top returning rebounders: Isabel Smith 5.2; Haley Napoli 2.3

Headliner: Senior Sam McPherson averaged 7.8 points and led the Lightning with 2 assists per game last season and should be in for a bigger role this season as the leader in the Liberty High backcourt.

Keep an eye on: Senior Isabel Smith is a candidate for a breakthrough season after the 6-foot post player averaged 4.7 points and a team-high 5.2 rebounds a year ago. Smith also led Liberty High with 16 blocked shots last season.

Circle the date: December 3 vs. Keokuk. The home opener for the Lightning comes against Class 3A and gives Liberty High a chance to earn some confidence heading into a stretch in which it hosts Dubuque Senior and Waterloo East in two of its first three conference games.   

Breakdown: After going 6-15 in its debut season Liberty High went 3-17 a year ago in its first year in the rugged Mississippi Valley Conference.

The Lightning will look to improve on that this season with a pair of experienced returning starters in McPherson and Smith and sophomore Haley Napoli who averaged 2.3 rebounds coming off the bench a year ago.

Third-year head coach Jamie Brandt expects to get immediate contributions from freshmen Keiko Ono-Fullard and Avery Gaudet.

Solon

Coach: Jamie Smith (2nd season)

Assistant coaches: Mark Sovers, Jim Smith, Daniel Herdliska

Last season: 3-18

Returning starters: Makinley Levin, 5-9, Soph.; Jenna LaDage, 5-9, Sr.; Kaia Holtkamp, 5-7, Soph.

Other returning letterwinners: Ava Stebral, 5-5, Soph.; Jada Buffington, 5-7, Soph.; Emma Bock, 5-6, Soph.; Elly Holubar, 5-7, Soph.

Newcomers to watch: Aira Foster, 5-8, Sr.; Hillary Wilson, 5-6, Fr.; Claire LaDage, 5-8, Fr.

Top returning scorers: Makinley Levin 9.7; Jenna LaDage 7.7

Top returning rebounders: Makinley Levin 3.3; 3.3

Headliner: Freshman Makinley Levin led the Spartans in scoring at 9.7 points per game in her varsity debut season while shooting 32 percent from the 3-point line.

Keep an eye on: Senior Jenna LaDage is easily the most experienced player on a young Solon roster and is coming off a junior season in which she averaged 7.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per game while earning honorable mention all WAMAC honors. 

Circle the date: December 6 vs. Vinton-Shellsburg. The home opener for the Spartans comes against a Vinton-Shellsburg squad that Solon defeated on the road a year ago.

Breakdown: Jamie Smith enters his second season leading the Solon program with a young but experienced roster.

Seven players that saw extended minutes return this season including the top three scorers from last years squad.

Sophomore guard Kaia Holtkamp returns alongside Levin and LaDage after averaging 6.8 points per game a year ago.

Sophomores Ava Stebral, Jada Buffington, Emma Bock and Elly Holubar all return after gaining experience last season as freshmen.

Clear Creek Amana

Coach: PJ Sweeney (6th season)

Assistant coaches: Nathan Elliott, Abby Kite, Alex Schultejans, Sean Patrick

Last season: 11-8

Returning starters: Calia Clubb, 6-0, Soph.; Meagan Harvey, 5-9, Sr.; Karsyn Stratton, 5-8, Sr.; Whitney Traetow, 5-6, Jr.

Other returning letterwinners: Gabrielle Bedford, 5-4, Jr.; Gracie Downes, 5-9, Sr.; Morgan Etscheidt, 6-0, Soph.; Allison Rummelhart, 5-4, Sr.; Emily Sly, 5-11, Jr.

Newcomers to watch: Ainsley Schrock, 5-11, Sr.; Ellie Waterbury, 5-4, Sr.

Top returning scorers: Karsyn Stratton 19.6; Meagan Harvey 7.4; Whitney Traetow 6.1

Top returning rebounders: Calia Clubb 8.2; Karsyn Stratton 6.6; Gracie Downes 3.7

Headliner: One of the top players in Class 4A and among the best in CCA program history Karsyn Stratton will look to put the finishing touches on a brilliant career with a strong senior season. Stratton was a second-team all-state pick a year ago when she ranked third in 4A in scoring with 19.6 points per game.

Keep an eye on: Senior forward Meagan Harvey is a four-year starter that is coming off a season in which she averaged 7.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.

Circle the date: December 13 vs. Marion. How does Clear Creek Amana stack up against the best in Class 4A? The Clippers won’t have to wait long to find out as they host defending runner-up and second ranked Marion in the sixth game of the season.  

Breakdown: Clear Creek Amana is coming off back-to-back 11-win seasons and has been .500 or better each of the past three seasons but now the Clippers want a breakthrough.

The pieces appear to be in place for just such a season with the top four scorers and top-six rebounders from last year’s 11-8 squad returning.

Senior four-year starters Karsyn Stratton and Meagan Harvey headline a list of four returning starters that give the Clippers an experienced roster from top to bottom.

Stratton gives the Clippers a star who has ranked in the top five in scoring in Class 4A each of the past two seasons.

Junior Whitney Traetow returns after averaging 6.1 points per game a year ago while sophomore Calia Clubb is back after leading the Clippers with 8.2 rebounds per game.

Clear Creek Amana should also receive a boost from the return of seniors Ainsley Schrock and Ellie Waterbury.

Schrock started 21 of 22 games as a sophomore while Waterbury missed last season with an injury. 

Regina

Coach: Mary Halvorson (1st season)

Assistant coaches: Mark Besler, Paige Besler

Last season: 10-11

Returning starters: Elly Gahan, 6-0, Sr.; Sam Greving, 6-0, Sr.; Claire Gaarde, 5-9, Sr.; Annie Gahan, 5-11, Jr.

Other returning letterwinners: Steph Stenger, 5-8, Sr.

Newcomers to watch: Grace Gaarde, 5-5, Fr. Berlyn O’Connor, 5-7, Fr.

Top returning scorers: Sam Greving 12.7; Annie Gahan 7.8

Top returning rebounders: Sam Greving 7.7; Elly Gahan 6.4

Headliner: Sam Greving had an immediate impact in her first season at Regina averaging 12.7 points and leading the Regals with 7.7 rebounds per game.

Keep an eye on: At 6-foot, senior Elly Gahan teams with Greving to give the Regals a formidable front court duo after averaging 7.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game a year ago.

Circle the date: December 17 vs. Durant. After four consecutive road games to open the season the Regals return home to face Durant in the home opener for first-year head coach Mary Halvorson.

Breakdown: First-year head coach Mary Halvorson inherits a Regina squad that returns four starters from last year’s team that went 10-11.

The Regals should be able to cause problems for opponents with its length and size in the front court as Elly Gahan, Annie Gahan and Greving are all 5-foot-11 or taller.

Annie Gahan, a 5-foot-11 junior, averaged 7.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game a year ago.

Senior Claire Gaarde returns to lead the Regina backcourt after leading the Regals with 3.3 assists per game last season.

Look for senior Steph Stenger to step into a bigger role this season while freshmen Berlyn O’Connor and Grace Gaarde should also help in the back court.

West Branch

Coach: Jarod Tylee (9th season)

Assistant coaches: Rick Sexton, Brad Koenig, Tony Luneckas

Last season: 15-5

Returning starters: Sasha Koenig, 5-6, Jr.; Taylor Thein, 5-6, Sr.; Taya Young, 5-6, Jr.; Kaiya Luneckas, 6-1, Sr.; Rylan Druecker, 5-7, Jr.

Other returning letterwinners: Mackenzie Heise, 5-10, Sr.; Taylor Boelk, 5-6, Sr.; Abbie Waterman, 5-4, Sr.; Lexie Peak, 5-5, Jr.; Maddy Hatfield, 5-7, Jr.; Delaynie Luneckas, 6-2, Soph.  

Top returning scorers: Sasha Koenig 16.6; Taya Young 9.9; Taylor Thein 6.5

Top returning rebounders: Kaiya Luneckas 8.2; Sasha Koenig 4.6; Rylan Druecker 4.6

Headliner: After a strong debut season Sasha Koenig took her game to another level last season as a sophomore averaging a team-high 16.6 points to go with 4.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 3.6 steals per game.

Keep an eye on: Playing alongside Koenig its easy to overlook what Taya Young has done the past two seasons. Young averaged 9.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game a year ago and could be due for a breakthrough as a junior.

Circle the date: December 13 vs. Cascade. West Branch gets a chance to make a statement to the rest of the state early when it hosts top-ranked Cascade in an early season River Valley Conference cross-divisional matchup.

Breakdown: West Branch opens the season ranked eighth in Class 2A and the expectation in West Branch is for the Bears to be one of the eight teams playing at the state tournament to end the season.

All five starters return from last year’s team that went 15-5 and the top seven scorers and top five rebounders are all back for the Bears.

Koenig and Young give West Branch an experienced and dynamic backcourt while Taylor Thein and Rylan Druecker each return with a year of starting experience.

The trio of Mackenzie Heise, Delaynie Luneckas and Kaiya Luneckas give West Branch size and depth in the post after combining to average 14 rebounds per game last season.

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