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The Gazette KCRG
Posted December 19, 2011
Balanced unbeatens collide in Tri-Rivers showdown

A broken wrist hasn’t broken the spirit of the Monticello Panthers.

Class 2A sixth-ranked Monticello is without Brooke Stahlberg until late January, but the Panthers have persevered.

Monticello's Taylor Aitchison, driving against Jensen Stewart of Mount Ayr in last year's state tournament, is the leading scorer among active players for Monticello. (Cliff Jette/SourceMedia Group)

“It hasn’t slowed us down,” said Monticello Coach Donnie Kremer. “We’ve had some other girls step up. The team, as a whole, has accepted the fact that Brooke is going to be out a while.”

An all-state guard, Stahlberg fractured her right wrist in the fourth game of the season.

Monticello (9-0 overall, 6-0 Tri-Rivers Conference) travels to Troy Mills on Tuesday for a league showdown with North Linn (10-0, 6-0). Tipoff is 6:15 p.m.

North Linn is one of four teams in Iowa that have reached double figures in wins.

“We’ve played well so far,” said Lynx Coach Brian Wheatley. “Tuesday will tell us a lot about where we’re sitting.”

Both teams are balanced.

North Linn has seven players averaging at least six points per game. Senior Amanda Aberle leads the Lynx at 13.9 points per game. Talented freshman Nicole Miller adds 11.8 per game and leads the team in assists and steals.

“We have a lot of kids that might score five points one night, then go for 20 the next,” Wheatley said.

A state semifinalist last season, Monticello doesn’t have a double-figure scorer. Taylor Aitchison leads the active roster at 8.3 points per game. Four other Panthers add more than six points per game.

The Tri-Rivers appears to be a conference with two distinct tiers. Four teams are title hopefuls, and the other two — Maquoketa Valley (9-0, 6-0) and Cascade (7-1, 5-1) — collide Tuesday at Cascade.

“The key is to win on the road,” Kremer said. “That’s key for us. So is getting healthy.”

Lots of points, but …

Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Courtney Strait posted a pair of big scoring outputs last week, but both came in losing efforts.

Courtney Strait

Both games featured a parade to the free throw line for the senior.

Strait scored 37 points in a 73-65 loss to Dubuque Senior last Tuesday. She went to the line 18 times, making 16 foul shots.

She was 17 of 20 from the stripe in a 30-point effort Friday, when the Cougars lost to Iowa City High, 76-62.

Strait leads the Mississippi Valley Conference in scoring at 21.4 points per game.

Rivalry Saturday moved, condensed

This year’s version of Rivalry Saturday will be abbreviated and at a temporary new location.

Renovation to the U.S. Cellular Center forced the move of the girls’ basketball event to Cedar Rapids Washington for this season. It’s a a five-game event this year, down from the normal six.

It’s a strong field though. Seven of the 10 teams are undefeated, including Class 3A No. 1 South Tama.

Here’s the schedule for the Jan. 21 event:

1 p.m. – Marion vs. Center Point Urbana

2:45 p.m. – Union vs. South Tama

4:30 p.m. – Southeast Polk vs. Cedar Rapids Washington

6:15 p.m. – North Linn vs. Monticello

8 p.m. – Williamsburg vs. Benton Community

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