CEDAR RAPIDS — Through 14 winters, they’ve occasionally battled for divisional titles. And they’ve always squabbled for 42nd Street superiority.
But until now, Cedar Rapids Xavier and Cedar Rapids Kennedy have never fought for girls’ basketball postseason survival.
The time has come.
Fifth-ranked Xavier (16-5) hosts No. 12 Kennedy (13-9) in a Class 4A regional semifinal, 7 p.m. Saturday at Ron Thillen Gymnasium. The Cougars advanced with a 63-50 win over Linn-Mar while the Saints watched and waited.
“We hope to rise to the occasion,” Kennedy Coach Dennis Roloff said. “We’re going to have to press and make it an up-tempo game. We’ve got to stop their inside game.”
Said Kennedy sophomore Paige Hendrickson: “We’re going to have to rebound. They have a lot of tall posts. And we have to make baskets.”
Meanwhile, the Saints have to determine how to handle Courtney Strait, the state’s leading scorer in 4A.
“It’s a philosophical quandry,” said Xavier Coach Tom Lilly. “She’s a handful. We need to figure if we want to slow her down, and if we can’t, how can we hold her in check and keep their other kids from getting big numbers.”
Xavier began its girls’ basketball existence in 1998-99, but the Saints and the Cougars have never bumped into each other in postseason play. For eight years, Xavier was a 3A school before moving back up to 4A in 2008-09.
Basketball will become one of four girls’ sports (softball, volleyball and golf are the others) that will move to a five-class format beginning this summer. Kennedy and the other Metro MVC schools will move to 5A next year; Xavier will be 4A.
So the first Xavier-Kennedy postseason meeting also will be the last, at least for a while.
Saturday’s winner will face Cedar Rapids Prairie (11-9) or Dubuque Senior (10-12) in the 4A Region 3 final Tuesday at Linn-Mar. The Hawks host the Rams Saturday.
In other 4A games Saturday involving Metro/Iowa City teams, Cedar Rapids Jefferson (9-13) is at Ames (14-7) in Region 2, No. 2 Iowa City West (20-1) hosts Davenport West (7-14) in Region 4, and No. 7 Iowa City High (15-6) hosts Bettendorf (13-9) while No. 13 Cedar Rapids Washington (13-7) entertains Clinton (9-13) in Region 5.
Marion (14-8) faces Wamac Conference West Division nemesis Center Point-Urbana (15-7) in a 3A game at Marion. The Stormin’ Pointers beat the Indians twice in regular-season play.
“They’re a very good team,” Marion Coach Brian O’Donnell said. “They’re athletic and they’ve done a nice job in the second half of both games.
“I’m very proud of the kids’ resilience this year. We’ve had some huge wins and some tough losses, but the kids have responded when we’ve challenged them.”
Among area 3A ranked teams, No. 1 Benton Community (22-0) hosts Oskaloosa (13-8), No. 7 South Tama (21-2) entertains Ballard (16-6), No. 10 Williamsburg (19-4) hosts Pella (13-9) and 11th-rated Washington (18-4) meets No. 14 Keokuk (16-6).
When West Delaware upset Western Dubuque in a 3A first-rounder Wednesday, Harold Shepherd moved into fourth place all-time among Iowa girls’ basketball coaches for victories. Shepherd is 736-305 in 45 seasons.
The Hawks (8-14) are at No. 6 Dubuque Wahlert (18-4) on Saturday.
SATURDAY’S CLASS 4A REGIONAL SEMIFINALS (7 p.m.)
Waterloo West (13-9) at Cedar Falls (12-9)
Cedar Rapids Jefferson (9-13) at Ames (14-7)
Cedar Rapids Kennedy (13-9) at Cedar Rapids Xavier (16-5)
Dubuque Senior (10-12) at Cedar Rapids Prairie (11-9)
Burlington (9-13) at Muscatine (18-3)
Davenport West (7-14) at Iowa City West (20-1)
Bettendorf (13-9) at Iowa City High (15-6)
Clinton (9-13) at Cedar Rapids Washington (13-7)
SATURDAY’S CLASS 3A REGIONAL SEMIFINALS (7 p.m.)
New Hampton (15-7) at Waverly-Shell Rock (17-5)
Ballard (16-6) at South Tama (21-2)
West Delaware (8-14) at Dubuque Wahlert (18-4)
Independence (13-9) at Oelwein (12-10)
Center Point-Urbana (15-7) at Marion (14-8)
DeWitt Central (12-10) at Davenport Assumption (20-2)
Keokuk (16-6) vs. Washington (18-4), at Mount Pleasant
Oskaloosa (13-8) at Benton Community (22-0)
Pella (13-9) at Williamsburg (19-4)
Centerville (16-6) vs. Bondurant-Farrar (20-2), at Knoxville
Benton Community, cedar rapids jefferson, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, cedar rapids prairie, Cedar Rapids Washington, cedar rapids xavier, Center Point-Urbana, Class 3A, Class 4A, Courtney Strait, dennis roloff, Dubuque Senior, girls basketball, Iowa City High, Iowa City West, Marion, Paige Hendrickson, regional semifinals, South Tama, Tom Lilly, Washington, Williamsburg