Prepare to bite your nails and take a Tums when the Cedar Rapids Washington girls’ basketball team takes the floor.
More likely than not, you’re in for a wild ride.
Twelve of the 13th-ranked Warriors’ 21 games have been decided by single digits, and it will be somewhat of a surprise if Tuesday’s Class 4A regional final against No. 7 Iowa City High doesn’t go down to the wire.
“We’re going to show up and compete,” Washington Coach Frank Howell said. “The last time we played City High (an overtime loss), we were pretty flat initially, and you can’t come out flat against a team like that.
“It’s the most exciting time of the year, and hopefully we play to our capability.”
Regional finals will be contested Tuesday in classes 4A and 3A, with winners advancing to the state tournament next week at Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines.
Three 4A games and four 3A contests involve area teams.
In addition to the tilt between the Warriors (14-7) and the Little Hawks (16-6) at Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 4A games include No. 5 Cedar Rapids Xavier (17-5) against Cedar Rapids Prairie (12-9) at Linn-Mar and No. 2 Iowa City West (21-1) against Muscatine (19-3) at Tipton.
In 3A, Marion (15-8) takes its shot at No. 4 Davenport Assumption (21-2) at DeWitt, No. 1 Benton Community (23-0) faces No. 14 Keokuk (17-6) at Washington, No. 10 Williamsburg (20-4) battles No. 9 Bondurant-Farrar (21-2) at Grinnell, and Independence (14-9) pursues its first state trip against No. 6 Dubuque Wahlert (19-4).
Washington was 6-6 in its single-digit games. Six of the Warriors’ seven losses were by four points or less, or went overtime.
“I really didn’t know what to expect this season,” Howell said. “We had a lot of kids step into bigger roles this year. Hopefully we’ve shown some growth and are peaking at the right time.”
The Warriors were plenty good in their regional semifinal, zapping Clinton, 75-27.
Xavier and Prairie traded regular-season wins. Prairie won 42-40 on Jan. 13, then Xavier rolled to a 56-29 triumph on Feb. 10.
Both teams won easily in the regional semifinals; Prairie snapped a six-game slide with a 75-44 waxing of Dubuque Senior while Xavier pounded Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 59-32.
“(Prairie has) some nice shooters,” Xavier Coach Tom Lilly said. “If we shoot the ball well, we stand a chance to win.”
Xavier’s Alex Bartz said, “We need to buckle down on their outside shooters. If we do that, we have a good chance.”
TUESDAY’S CLASS 4A REGIONAL FINALS
Cedar Rapids Xavier vs. Cedar Rapids Prairie (Region 3)
Time and site: 7 p.m., at Linn-Mar
Records and rankings: Xavier (17-5) is ranked No. 5; Prairie (12-9) is unranked.
Notable: It’s a rubber match between the teams, which split the regular-season series in far different fashion. Prairie captured a home win, 42-40, on Jan. 13 when Courteney McCrary scored at the buzzer, then Xavier turned the tables on its court, 56-29, on Feb. 10, the regular-season finale for both teams. Both teams were surprisingly dominant in the regional semifinals. Xavier routed Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 59-32, while Prairie toasted Dubuque Senior, 75-44, to break a six-game losing streak. The Saints are third in 4A in defensive average (35.7 ppg). Both teams boast balanced scoring attacks. McCrary leads Prairie at 12.3 points per game. Xavier’s Alex Bartz posted 15 points and 16 rebounds against Kennedy.
Iowa City West vs. Muscatine (Region 4)
Time and site: 7 p.m., at Tipton
Records and rankings: West (21-1) is ranked No. 2; Muscatine (19-3) is No. 8.
Notable: Muscatine has made giant strides in the last three years (the Muskies won just three games in 2009-10), but the Women of Troy are heavy favorites in this one. West returns virtually its entire lineup from last year’s state runner-up team, including junior Ally Disterhoft (16.9 points per game) and University of Illinois signee Mckenzie Piper (13.2 ppg). West is the most prolific scoring team in 4A, averaging 74.3 points per game. West went 16-0 in Mississippi Valley Conference play and ran away with the Valley Division title. Muscatine shared the Mississippi Athletic Conference title, edging co-champ Davenport Assumption (the only team to beat West this season) to earn a share of the crown. Muscatine’s top nine scorers are underclassmen, led by Leti Lerma (15.1 ppg).
Cedar Rapids Washington vs. Iowa City High (Region 5)
Time and site: 7 p.m., at Cedar Rapids Kennedy
Records and rankings: Washington (14-7) is ranked 13th; City High (16-6) is No. 7.
Notable: It has been one nail-biter after another for Washington (the Warriors have played 12 games decided by single digits, winning six), and this promised to be another one that goes down to the wire. When the teams played at City High on Jan. 23, the Little Hawks won, 66-57, in overtime. Danielle Franklin has emerged as a star in her sophomore season; she is averaging a team-high 13.1 points per game. City High is a diverse squad; Mickey Hansche does the damage outside — she averages 15.3 points per game and shoots 48 percent from 3-point range — while Sierra Chambers and Haley Lorenzen are the inside forces at 13.5 ppg apiece. Hansche and Lorenzen are two of City’s four underclassmen that rank in the team’s top five in scoring.
Region 1 — Mason City vs. Sioux City West (at Fort Dodge)
Region 2 — Cedar Falls vs. Ames (at Marshalltown)
Region 6 — Des Moines East vs. Southeast Polk (at Ankeny)
Region 7 – West Des Moines Dowling vs. Waukee (at Johnston)
Region 8 — Lewis Central vs. Ankeny (at West Des Moines Valley)
TUESDAY’S CLASS 3A REGIONAL FINALS
Independence vs. Dubuque Wahlert (Region 4)
Time and site: 7 p.m., at Manchester
Records and rankings: Independence (14-9) is unranked; Wahlert (19-4) is No. 6.
Notable: Independence is a win away from its first state tournament, but there’s still a difficult bridge to cross to get there. Wahlert hasn’t missed a beat since top player Claire Till (a University of Iowa recruit) ended her season to have knee surgery. Tessa Leytem has emerged as the Golden Eagles’ go-to player in Till’s absence, leading the team at 16.1 points per game. Independence has improved greatly in a year, upping its win total from five to 14. The Mustangs don’t have a double-figure scorer, but have four that average at least 7 points per game, led by Emily Baker (9.3). Indee outlasted Oelwein, 43-40, in overtime in Saturday’s regional semifinal.
Marion vs. Davenport Assumption (Region 5)
Time and site: 7 p.m., at DeWitt
Records and rankings: Marion (15-8) is unranked; Assumption (21-2) is No. 4.
Notable: Assumption’s quest for a 3A title repeat remains intact. The Knights have cruised through the first two rounds, blasting past Maquoketa and DeWitt Central by a combined 61 points. Marion, on the other hand, avenged a pair of regular-season losses by dumping Center Point-Urbana 62-56. Dani Peyton’s basket with a minute to play put the Indians in front. Peyton led Marion with 15 points Saturday, and is the Indians top scorer with season at 11.1 points per game. Assumption shared the Mississippi Athletic Conference title with Muscatine. The Knights’ top three scorers are juniors, led by Danielle Moore (11.7 ppg).
Benton Community vs. Keokuk (Region 6)
Time and site: 7 p.m., at Washington, Iowa
Records and rankings: Benton (23-0) is No. 1; Keokuk (17-6) is ranked 14th.
Notable: The Bobcats hope to take their dream season to the same level it reached last year — the state tournament. Benton overcame a big scare in the regional semifinals, rallying from a 13-percent shooting display in the first half and a 21-13 deficit at intermission to sidestep Oskaloosa, 54-38. Junior Madison Weekly is the Bobcats’ leader in scoring (18.8 points per game), assists (3.4 per game) and steals (3.6 per game). Kelsey Brecht adds 9.7 points per game. Keokuk has won a pair of tight regional games, edging Mount Pleasant and Washington (Iowa) by scores of 55-54 and 48-44, respectively. Four Chiefs score between 9.6 and 10.7 points, led by Zoe Kayvan.
Williamsburg vs. Bondurant-Farrar (Region 7)
Time and site: 7 p.m., at Grinnell
Records and rankings: Williamsburg (20-4) is No. 10; Bondurant-Farrar (21-2) is No. 9.
Notable: This region has gone completely as planned, and the co-favorites will play for a state berth in what ought to be one of Tuesday’s most compelling games. Three of Williamsburg’s four losses have been decided by two points or less (including two defeats at the hands of No. 1 Benton Community) while Bondurant-Farrar’s two blemishes have been by a combined seven points. Iowa State volleyball commit Mackenzie Bigbee paces the Raiders at 13.5 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Paige Greiner and Lindsay Schlabaugh add 12.5 and 10.0 points per game, respectively. Bobbie Burrows and Jackie Yount pace Bondurant-Farrar at 16.0 and 15.9 ppg.
Region 1 — Spirit Lake vs. MOC-Floyd Valley (at Spencer)
Region 2 — Denison-Schleswig vs. Sioux City Heelan (at Sioux City East)
Region 3 — New Hampton vs. Ballard (at Parkersburg)
Region 8 — Winterset vs. Glenwood (at Atlantic)
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