Cedar Rapids Prairie and Marion already have eclipsed their win totals from a year ago, giving the Metro more depth: Five ranked teams in what figured to be a down year in town.
After losing most of its firepower to graduation, Mount Vernon remains the team to beat in the Wamac East.
Edgewood-Colesburg is scoring — and allowing — points in bunches.
But the biggest surprise of the 2011-12 girls’ basketball season comes outside the gymnasium. No games by area teams have been lost to weather.
The season resumes Tuesday. Here’s a look back — and forward.
MVC MISSISSIPPI DIVISION
* Where we stand — Despite a overtime loss to Waterloo West in its pre-holiday finale, Cedar Rapids Washington (5-1, 5-1) holds a one-game lead over Iowa City High (8-2, 4-2) and Dubuque Wahlert (7-2, 4-2).
* Midseason MVP — She plays for a team that has been an also-ran thus far, but Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Courtney Strait has done everything to keep the Cougars competitive. Strait is averaging 21.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.1 steals per game.
* Where we’re headed — Wahlert isn’t the frontrunner, but might still be the favorite. The Golden Eagles already are done with Washington and City High, and host six of their final 10 MVC games at a place nobody wants to play. City High goes to Washington on Jan. 20, and still plays Iowa City West twice. Washington hosts West on Tuesday.
MVC VALLEY DIVISION
* Where we stand — Iowa City West (9-0, 6-0) is ranked No. 1 in Class 4A and is far and away the best team in the entire MVC. Cedar Falls (7-3, 5-1) and Cedar Rapids Prairie (6-3, 4-2) have been big surprises, and Cedar Rapids Xavier (9-2, 4-2) is solid as always.
* Midseason MVP — West’s Ally Disterhoft still is uncommited on a college, but unquestionably has Division-I talent. The junior guard is averaging 16.4 points per game. Remarkably, she’s shooting 69 percent from the floor.
* Where we’re headed — It’s going to take a catastrophe for West not to win the division, and it would be a minor surprise if the Women of Troy didn’t go 16-0 in league play. Xavier is the pick for second place, with the schedules of Cedar Falls and Prairie becoming more difficult after the break.
WAMAC EAST DIVISION
* Where we stand — After starting 1-3 against a brutal early schedule, Mount Vernon (5-3, 4-0) has seized control of the division. West Delaware (4-5, 3-1) has recovered nicely after an 0-3 start, and Western Dubuque (5-3, 3-2) has made great strides after a 3-19 campaign a year ago.
* Midseason MVP — Liz Skotowski is the lone returning starter from Mount Vernon’s run of glory in 2010 and 2011, and has become the undisputed leader of the team. She’s averaging 15.1 points per game, and you don’t want to foul her at the end of the game. Skotowski is 23 of 24 from the line thus far.
* Where we’re headed — Despite losing all of its size from a year ago, Mount Vernon is allowing 35.8 points per game. That makes the Mustangs the pick to rule the division for the second straight year.
WAMAC WEST DIVISION
* Where we stand — Williamsburg seemed to be the heavy favorite at the beginning of the season, but the Raiders (10-2, 4-2) have been nicked twice, by Benton Community (9-0, 4-0) and Marion (7-1, 4-0). Benton has risen to No. 2 in the 3A rankings, and Marion has surpassed last year’s six-win total.
* Midseason MVP — Benton junior Madison Weekly is averaging 18 points per game, shooting 88 percent from the free throw line. She scored 14 fourth-quarter points in the Bobcats’ win at Williamsburg on Dec. 6.
* Where we’re headed — A three-team race to be sure, assuming Marion doesn’t stub its toe. The teams in the second tier — Center Point-Urbana, Independence and Clear Creek Amana — will force the frontrunners to be on top of their game night in and night out. This is the stronger of the Wamac divisions.
* Where we stand — Iowa City Regina (7-0, 5-0) is on its way to a third straight title. The Regals have beaten all of their league opponents by 17 points or more. Mid-Prairie (4-4, 3-1) probably is the chief threat.
* Midseason MVP — Regina’s Zoe Dutchik is the top player, averaging 19.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.
* Where we’re headed — Most likely, another Regina championship. The Regals’ stiffest competition from here on out will be non-conference games against Mount Vernon (Saturday), Solon (Jan. 21) and Cedar Rapids Washington (Jan. 31).
* Where we stand — The league has shrunk to nine teams, and seven of them range from competitive to quite good. A regional finalist last year, Bellevue (10-0, 6-0) has taken the reins as the favorite. Camanche (7-2, 5-0), Preston (6-2, 4-2) and Clinton Prince of Peace (6-4, 4-2) are in the mix.
* Midseason MVP — We’ll go with co-MVPs from Bellevue. Kelsey Ernst leads the league in scoring (18.2 ppg) and shoots 65 percent from the floor, while Ali Reeg is averaging 12 points and leads the conference in assists (61) and steals (37).
* Where we’re headed — With the Big East adapting a double-round-robin format, it’s less likely that we’ll see multiple champions as we did last year. Camanche visits Bellevue on Tuesday in a game that will determine the leader at the midpoint. In the long run, we’ll pick Bellevue to win it.
* Where we stand — It was projected as a three-team race, but Waverly-Shell Rock (5-3, 4-0) has taken control early. New Hampton (6-1, 2-1) has been beaten only by the Go-Hawks — a 44-30 setback on Dec. 6. Waukon (5-5, 1-3) figured to be right in the mix, but the Indians have disappointed early.
* Midseason MVP — WSR junior Aftin Phyfe is averaging 13.8 points per game and is shooting 68 percent from the floor.
* Where we’re headed — Waverly-Shell Rock has won all four of its NEIC games handily and will be difficult to knock from the top of the heap. The Go-Hawks do have road tests left with New Hampton and Waukon, and you figure the Indians will turn it on at some point.
SOUTH IOWA CEDAR
* Where we stand — North Mahaska (9-0, 9-0) and Lynnville-Sully (10-1, 9-1) appeared to be the cream of the crop, and that’s exactly how it has played out. The Warhawks hold the upper hand by virtue of a 53-50 win at Sully on Dec. 9.
* Midseason MVP — Belle Plaine’s Kameo Pope is a budding star in the post. The sophomore is averaging 15.3 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.
* Where we’re headed — The North Mahaska/Lynnville-Sully rematch is Jan. 24 at New Sharon. A North Mahaska win probably means a title; if the Hawkettes prevail, it could be a photo finish.
* Where we stand — This is a two-tiered league, with at least four teams — North Linn, Maquoketa Valley, Monticello and Cascade — in the upper group. Edgewood-Colesburg may or may not be with the upper level. A little was determined on Dec. 20, when North Linn (11-0, 7-0) beat Monticello (9-1, 6-1), and Maquoketa Valley (11-0, 7-0) edged Cascade (7-2, 5-2). But there’s a long way to go.
* Midseason MVP — With nine players averaging between 10 and 14 points per game, this is a tough call. By a thin margin, take Amanda Aberle of North Linn. She’s averaging 13.8 points per game and shooting 62 percent from the floor.
* Where we’re headed — A lot will be decided in the next week at Delhi; Maquoketa Valley entertains both North Linn and Monticello. The North Linn-Monti rematch is part of Rivalry Saturday on Jan. 21, about the time Monti’s Brooke Stahlberg returns from a broken wrist.
* Where we stand — Sumner-Fredericksburg (10-0, 8-0) has held eight opponents to 30 points or less, and leads the race by virtue of a 49-43 win over South Winneshiek (8-2, 7-1) on Dec. 22.
* Midseason MVP — Carly Pagel of Sumner-Fredericksburg is the UIC leader in scoring (14.8 points per game) and rebounding (10.2 boards per contest).
* Where we’re headed — The rematch between the top two teams is Jan. 17 at Calmar. If Sumner-Fredericksburg wins that, the biggest obstacles between the Cougars and an unbeaten regular season are non-league games against Waverly-Shell Rock and New Hampton in February.
AND ELSEWHERE …
Four teams from the area are leading “fringe” conferences.
* Class 3A No. 1 South Tama is in good shape in its first year in the North Iowa Cedar League. The Trojans (10-0, 6-0) have built a two-game cushion in the West Division while Union (8-1, 6-0) rules the East.
* North Tama (8-2, 7-0) is alone atop the Iowa Star standings while Washington (7-1, 3-0) is tops in the Southeast Conference.
Big East Conference, Cedar Valley Conference, girls basketball, Mississippi Valley Conference, Northeast Iowa Conference, South Iowa Cedar League, Tri-Rivers Conference, Upper Iowa Conference, Wamac Conference