Just another game? Tony Vis knows better.
“I’d love to downplay it, but I’m not going to lie … this is an important game,” said Vis, the girls’ basketball coach at Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
Since the season began, this was a date worth circling: Iowa City High at Kennedy, Jan. 24.
“It will be a very good measuring stick,” said City High Coach Bill McTaggart. “Kennedy is as deep as anybody we’ve seen all year.”
Tipoff is scheduled for about 7:30 p.m.
Class 5A No. 1 City High (15-0 overall, 7-0 MVC) is one of nine remaining unbeatens in the state and holds a one-game edge on the seventh-rated Cougars (11-2, 6-1) in the Mississippi Division race.
“It’s a big game because it’s a chance to play a really, really good team. It’s a dress rehearsal for the postseason,” said Vis, in his second year at Kennedy. “It’s an opportunity for us to get better. I hope we’re not too amped up.”
City High possesses a Miss Iowa Basketball 2014 hopeful in post Haley Lorenzen (21.5 points, 10.3 rebounds per game), a signee of the University of Florida, and has a strong backcourt in Kiera Washpun and Courtney Joens.
Kennedy counters with balance galore. All five starters are averaging between 8.9 and 12.0 points per contest. Morgan Martin, an Eastern Illinois University recruit, leads that tight pack.
“It’s difficult to double-team anybody, because all five kids can beat you,” McTaggart said. “They’re very good shooters.
“I think we’re very similar in that we both rely on creating turnovers. Whoever takes better care of the ball will probably be the more successful team.”
WAMAC GOING TOWARD THE WIRE
The Wamac Conference race will come a step closer to resolution Friday when two of the three contenders — West Delaware (13-2, 10-1) and Western Dubuque (13-1, 11-1) — battle at Epworth.
It’s the first of two games between the Highway 20 rivals, but the only one that counts in the overall conference standings. The rematch, Feb. 7 at Manchester – counts in the divisional standings only.
Williamsburg (12-2, 10-1) already has beaten the other two frontrunners, but has a tricky contest of its own Friday, at Mount Vernon.
Led by veteran coach Harold Shepherd (who earned his 750th career win earlier this season), West Delaware has won 11 straight games. Western Dubuque is on a nine-game tear.
FOND FAREWELL FOR SUMNER-FREDERICKSBURG
Sumner-Fredericksburg will bid adieu to the Upper Iowa Conference after winning its fourth consecutive title.
The Cougars (12-1, 10-0) wrapped up the crown with a 67-57 win over Edgewood-Colesburg on Tuesday. They lead the race by two games in the loss column with just one game to play, at home against Lansing Kee on Jan. 30.
Sumner-Fredericksburg departs for the North Iowa Cedar League next year.
MONDAY’S THE DAY
The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union will release its postseason assignments Monday.
The tournament series begins Feb. 13 in Class 1A, Feb. 15 in 2A and 3A, Feb. 19 in 4A and 5A.
Regional finals are Feb. 22 in 3A, Feb. 24 in 1A and 2A, Feb. 25 in 4A and 5A.
The state tournament is March 3-8 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Our mock brackets can be found at www.iowaprepsports.com.
Bill McTaggart, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, girls basketball, Haley Lorenzen, Iowa City High, Mississippi Valley Conference, Morgan Martin, Sumner-Fredericksburg, Tony Vis, Upper Iowa Conference, Wamac Conference, West Delaware, Western Dubuque, Williamsburg