So I was thumbing through last week’s Sports Illustrated, perusing through their all-decade teams for various sports, and decided to give this a shot. I decided on an eight-girl roster. Some players straddled decades, so for simplicity’s sake, I went with the year of graduation (for instance, Anne O’Neil did most of her damage in the 1990s, but I put her on the team since she was a 2000 graduate; conversely, active players like Kiah Stokes, Jade Rogers and Morgan Paige will have to wait until the 2010s).
So here’s The Gazette-area girls basketball team for The Aughts. Comments are welcome and encouraged.
KRISTIN JENNINGS (Cedar Rapids Xavier, 2003)
The diminutive point guard that made the Saints tick in the early part of the decade. She was a freshman on the 2000 team that reached the 4A semifinals (and in my mind, was the best Xavier team ever). As a senior, she led the Saints to the 3A state championship. Played at Wayne State (Neb.)
KELLY KREI (Iowa City High, 2008)
Led the Little Hawks to the 4A state championship in 2008; they knocked off MVC foes Cedar Falls, Linn-Mar and Cedar Rapids Washington on the way to the title. City High also qualified for state when Krei was a freshman and a junior. The Gazette’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2008. Now a sophomore at the University of Iowa.
ANNE O’NEIL (Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 2000)
The most prolific scorer in Metro history. With 2,494 points, she was the state record-holder in points before being passed by Deb Remmerde, then Jennifer Jorgensen. Miss Iowa Basketball 2000 and a four-time first-team all-stater in Class 4A. Played at Illinois, then transferred to Iowa State, where she was an all-Big 12 performer. Inducted into the Hall of Fame.
JAIME PRINTY (Linn-Mar, 2009)
The youngest player ever to commit to the University of Iowa (she did so as a freshman), Printy was highly acclaimed before she stepped onto the floor at Linn-Mar and lived up to the hype. A knee injury cost her the majority of her sophomore season. Led the Lions to state three times … they were semifinalists in 2008 and 2009. A freshman starter at Iowa.
TIFFANY REEDY (Union, 2002)
Ringleader of a talented cast that led the Knights to the state semifinals in 2000 and 2001. Union never reached the finals during an era that produced four Division-I players, but posted a 90-9 record. Reedy compiled 1,942 points, which ranked 16th in state history. Enjoyed a solid career at the University of Iowa.
SAMANTHA REISER (Waukon, 2005)
Reiser’s final two seasons at Waukon coincided with Gene Klinge’s first two years there, and it was a magical run. Waukon was 52-1 in 2003-04 and 2004-05, winning the 2004 state title and returning to state in 2005. She finished with 1,288 career points and was a terror in the passing lanes. Started her college career at UNI, finished at Upper Iowa.
RACHEL YEGGY (Highland, 2006)
Remains the state’s all-time leading rebounder despite standing a modest 6 feet. Her 1,533 boards are 136 more than anybody else. She also ranks 17th all-time in points with 1,942. Highland reached the state tournament in 2005, falling to eventual champion Charter Oak-Ute in the quarterfinals. Now is a junior on the Northern Iowa team.
STEPHANIE RICH (Washington, 2001), Player of the Decade
A champion personified. Etched her name as a legend at Veterans Auditorium, leading the Demons to Class 3A state titles in 1999, 2000 and 2001. She still owns state-tournament career records in points (237), rebounds (114) and steals (65). The Demons were 96-10 during her career, which produced 2,205 points (eighth all-time), 516 steals (seventh all-time) and 500 assists (18th all-time). Gazette’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2001, and — like O’Neil — entered the Iowa basketball Hall of Fame in 2007. Played college ball at the University of Wisconsin.
TOM LILLY (Cedar Rapids Xavier), Coach of the Decade
His teams reached the state tournament eight times in the decade, winning Class 3A state championships in 2003, 2005 and 2007. The Saints were a defense-driven outfit in which the whole was always greater than the sum of the parts. Xavier rarely had big scorers, but the system produced a number of standouts, like Jennings, Maria Johnson, Hannah Stolba, RyAnne Ridge, Amanda Covington and Maggie O’Connell. Lilly’s teams were 197-59 in the decade, most of it against the Mississippi Valley Conference.