As winters go, this one couldn’t have been scripted any better for Laurie Donald.
The weather has been mild. She welcomed her third child, Kole, into the world in November. And her girls’ basketball team at Benton Community has enjoyed a dream season.
“It’s all gone so fast,” Donald said as the top-ranked Bobcats (21-0) prepare for their Class 3A regional quarterfinal game Wednesday at Van Horne against Clear Creek Amana (7-15). “It has been an amazing season. The girls have jelled together. It’s not a team I have to push constantly. I really, genuinely love coming to practice every day.
“It’s definitely a part of my life that I’ll remember forever.”
Regionals begin in 3A and 4A Wednesday. It’s a full slate for the 64 3A teams. Sixteen of the 48 4A teams have quarterfinal byes and don’t get started until Saturday.
Three of the Metro’s six 4A teams open Wednesday, including a contest between No. 12 Cedar Rapids Kennedy (12-9) and Linn-Mar (10-11) at Kennedy.
Cedar Rapids Jefferson (8-13) hosts Marshalltown (4-17).
“Any time you play (intracity) games, everybody knows each other so well,” Kennedy Coach Dennis Roloff said. “We’re playing our first one at home, so we ought to be able to make some shots.”
The Cougars defeated Linn-Mar, 52-43, Feb. 4. The Lions have advanced to state four straight years.
Kennedy’s Courtney Strait is the top scorer in 4A at 21.0 points per game. Her biggest asset is getting to the free throw line and cashing in there — she’s 151 of 181 from the stripe this season.
“We’ll need some other girls to step up and help her out,” Roloff said. “Whatever they throw at us, we need to adjust.”
The Kennedy/Linn-Mar victor plays at No. 5 Cedar Rapids Xavier (16-5) on Saturday.
Benton is one of three ranked teams (No. 11 Washington and No. 14 Keokuk are the others) in 3A Region 6, but Donald insists the Bobcats’ focus in on CCA, and CCA alone.
“It’s our third time against them, and that makes me nervous,” she said. “I know they have the potential to score, and they have the potential to stop some of the things we do.
Donald doesn’t sleep much this time of year anyway, but she’s been able to delegate some duties to help.
“My husband (Todd) gets a lot of overnight duty (with Kole), and my assistants have helped a lot in scouting,” she said.
The area’s ranked 3A teams were split among five regions.
No. 7 South Tama (20-2) is the favorite to emerge from Region 3. The Trojans open at home with Nevada (9-12).
Eighth-rated Union does not have a home game through the postseason, despite a 19-2 record. The Knights open at Oelwein (11-10). No. 6 Dubuque Wahlert (17-4) also is in the bracket and a likely regional-final foe; the Golden Eagles host Waukon (14-7) and Coach Gene Klinge, who has a state-record 986 career wins.
No. 4 Davenport Assumption (19-2) is the team to beat in Region 5. The bracket also houses Marion (13-8), which stopped a late-season slide by upsetting Kennedy on Saturday. The Indians open at home against Vinton-Shellsburg (1-20).
Region 7 appears to be a collision course for No. 10 Williamsburg (18-4) and No. 9 Bondurant-Farrar (19-2). The Raiders host Grinnell (4-16) in Round 1.
WEDNESDAY’S CLASS 4A REGIONAL QUARTERFINALS
All games, 7 p.m.
Waterloo East (0-21) at Waterloo West (12-9), winner plays at Cedar Falls (12-9) on Saturday
Marshalltown (4-17) at Cedar Rapids Jefferson (8-13), winner plays at Ames (14-7) on Saturday
Linn-Mar (10-11) at Cedar Rapids Kennedy (12-9), winner plays at Cedar Rapids Xavier (16-5) on Saturday
Dubuque Hempstead (8-13) at Dubuque Senior (9-12), winner plays at Cedar Rapids Prairie (11-9) on Saturday
Davenport North (1-18) at Burlington (8-13), winner plays at Muscatine (18-3) on Saturday
Davenport Central (3-16) at Davenport West (16-4), winner plays at Iowa City West (20-1) on Saturday
Pleasant Valley (11-10) at Bettendorf (12-9), winner plays at Iowa City High (15-6) on Saturday
Clinton (8-12) at North Scott (11-10), winner plays at Cedar Rapids Washington (13-7) on Saturday
WEDNESDAY’S CLASS 3A REGIONAL QUARTERFINALS
All games, 7 p.m.
Crestwood (11-10) at New Hampton (14-7)
Charles City (11-10) at Waverly-Shell Rock (16-5)
Saydel (1-18) at Ballard (15-6)
Nevada (9-12) at South Tama (20-2)
West Delaware (7-14) at Western Dubuque (13-8)
Waukon (14-7) at Dubuque Wahlert (17-4)
Independence (12-9) at Decorah (4-17)
Union (19-2) at Oelwein (11-10)
Anamosa (4-18) at Center Point-Urbana (14-7)
Vinton-Shellsburg (1-20) at Marion (13-8)
Solon (10-11) at DeWitt Central (11-10)
Maquoketa (5-16) at Davenport Assumption (19-2)
Mount Pleasant (12-7) at Keokuk (15-6)
Fort Madison (3-17) at Washington (17-4)
Oskaloosa (12-8) at Fairfield (8-13)
Clear Creek Amana (7-15) at Benton Community (21-0)
Knoxville (5-16) at Pella (12-9)
Grinnell (4-16) at Williamsburg (18-4)
Chariton (3-18) at Centerville (15-6)
Carlisle (9-11) at Bondurant-Farrar (19-2)
Benton Community, Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Class 3A, Class 4A, Clear Creek Amana, Courtney Strait, dennis roloff, girls basketball, Laurie Donald, Linn-Mar, Marion, regional quarterfinals, South Tama, Union, Washington, Williamsburg