When the West Branch Bears pack their bus for Friday’s voyage to Troy Mills, they’ll take their running shoes.
And leave the proverbial shot clock at home.
“We want to run and press,” second-year Bears coach Jarod Tylee said. “We’re best when we take about 60 shots a game.”
So expect a fast pace when the Bears (17-5) take their shot at No. 4 North Linn (21-1) in a Class 2A girls basketball regional semifinal. Tipoff is 7 p.m. in the Lynx’s gym.
It’s one of seven games Friday involving area 2A and 1A teams. Winners advance to Monday’s regional finals.
West Branch is enjoying perhaps its finest year of girls athletics in school history. The Bears reached their first state volleyball tournament in November. And with mostly the same kids, they are two wins away from their first state basketball tournament since 1972.
They face a tall order Friday.
“North Linn is very quick and aggressive, and they shoot the ball really well,” Tylee said. “Both teams like to get up and down the floor. We want to do what we do, but we’ve got to take care of the ball in the process.”
And find a way to slow sophomore Nicole Miller, whose 21.4 points per game is fourth-highest in the state. She torched North Cedar for 33 points in the Lynx’s 73-37 win in the regional quarterfinals.
West Branch counters with a veteran lineup led by seniors Kelley Trimble (13.3 ppg) and Heather Poula (11.2 ppg).
The Bears shared the Cedar Valley Conference title with Iowa City Regina. The Regals (17-4) host Highland (13-10) in the other 2A Region 5 semifinal.
In Region 4, Bellevue (18-4) is at 14th-rated Maquoketa Valley (17-5) and No. 5 North Butler (18-1) meets No. 15 Sumner-Fredericksburg (19-2).
Five area 1A teams are still standing, and Lisbon is the lone sub-.500 team among them. The Lions (9-15) face Big East rival Preston (16-6) at Wheatland.
Preston took both regular-season matchups, 73-59 and 54-39.
“I don’t think we fear them at all,” Lisbon Coach Darin Hofmeister said. “We know them, and they know us.
“When we played them in the regular season, they handed it to us on the boards. We’re going to have to rebound.”
FRIDAY’S CLASS 2A REGIONAL SEMIFINALS
(All games, 7 p.m.)
Bellevue (18-4) at Maquoketa Valley (17-5)
Sumner-Fredericksburg (19-2) vs. North Butler (18-1), at Waverly
Highland (13-10) at Iowa City Regina (17-4)
West Branch (17-5) at North Linn (21-1)
FRIDAY’S CLASS 1A REGIONAL SEMIFINALS
(All games, 7 p.m.)
Elkader Central (12-9) vs. Bellevue Marquette (14-6), at Manchester
Tripoli (12-10) at Grundy Center (19-3)
Preston (16-6) vs. Lisbon (9-15), at Wheatland
Winfield-Mount Union (18-5) at Burlington Notre Dame (19-3)
BGM (16-6) at Colo-Nesco (21-2)
Keota (15-8) at Meskwaki Settlement (19-4)