Chris Dobbertean on the NCAA brackets.
Eric Heft on the Cyclones and Andy Garman from KCCI Sports.
Former Hawkeye Wade Lookingbill.
Pocahontas Area has reeled off 24 consecutive victories this season after dropping the state championship game a year ago to Nevada. Both teams are back in the Class 3A field, along with high powered Cherokee, Washington.
Top ranked Pocahontas (24-0) will put their undefeated record on the line in quarterfinal #1 against Mount Vernon (16-8). Pocahontas has outscored their opponents this season by an average of 39.4 points per game. Elle Ruffridge is one of the top players in the state regardless of class. Ruffridge averages 28.5 points per game, along with 8.8 assists per contest and has hit 106 of 232 three pointers, a 45.7% clip. As a team, Pocahontas has hit 251 3s this season, an average of 10.5 per game. That’s 65 more than any other team in the state. Upstart Mount Vernon makes their way to the state tournament on the heels of 6 straight wins. They will look to slow the pace and work the ball inside to junior Kaitlyn Volesky, who averages 16.4 points per game along with 10.1 rebounds.
High scoring #4 Cherokee, Washington (22-2) looks to get past 6th ranked Osage (21-3). Cherokee averages nearly 75 points per game and will look to get out and run. The Braves have shooters galore with Kaely Hummel (22 PPG, 54 3s), MaKenna Carver (12 PPG, 33 3s), Payton Slaughter (10.2 PPG, 29 3s) & Paityn Hagberg (9.2 PPG, 35 3s). The young Green Devils of Osage avenged an early season loss to Hampton-Dumont in the Regional Finals and beat the team that sent them home a season ago in Crestwood in making the state tournament. High scoring sophomore Ellie Friesen (19.2 PPG, 73 3s) along with sister Emily Friesen (8 PPG, 38 3s) and Gabby Schwarting (7.7 PPG, 37 3s) will need to knock down shots to keep up with Cherokee. Inside, senior Tatum Midlang will look to patrol the middle and grab big rebounds.
The 3rd quarterfinal sees #2 Center Point Urbana (23-1) taking on #14 Mid Prairie, Wellman (16-8). The Stormin Pointers are lead by the Woolridges. Senior Arika Wooldridge puts up 16.1 points per game while sophmore Allison is at 13.3 points. Mid Prairie found their stride late in the season and comes in winners of their last 7. They will look to work the ball in to Addison Rath (11.8 PPG) & Ali Butters (12.1 PPG) and rely on Alex Rath (10 PPG, 25 3s) from the outside.
#3 Nevada (21-3) is back to try to win another state championship and open up with #7 Sioux Center (20-4). The Cubs have given up only 24.1 points per game to lead the state defensively. The inside duo of Lex Koudelka (13.3 PPG) & Kati Cassabaum (12 PPG) are a big reason for the great defensive numbers and both players are shooting over 60% from the field. Alli Fey has hit 60 3 pointers on the season to lead the outside attack. Sioux Center has played a grueling schedule and have a balanced offensive attack. Jessica Harald (10.5 PPG), Jordyn Van Maanen (10.4 PPG) & Lexi Toering (10 PPG) will lead the Warriors to try and pull the upset.
The Pick: Pocahontas over Nevada
3rd ranked and defending state champion Unity Christian is back to defend their title from a season ago. They will be pushed by a solid group including undefeated Iowa City Regina and the top ranked team, Western Christian.
Western Christian (22-2) has reeled off 21 straight victories after starting the season 1-2, including a win over Unity Christian. The Wolfpack are tough to slow down with the inside duo of Ashtyn Veerbeek (15.2 PPG, 9.2 RPG) & Kaira Moss (12.3 PPG) and outside with Payton Harmsen (10.4 PPG, 68 3s) & Erika Feenstra (10 PPG, 31 3s) They face 8th ranked Central Decatur (23-1), who can fill it up from downtown with Alli Masters (15.2 PPG, 17 3s) Raegan Boothe (13.3 PPG, 40 3s), Lily Simon (12.3 PPG, 28 3s) & Jentri Hullinger (8.3 PPG, 29 3s). They’ll have to knocked down shots to have a shot in quarterfinal #1.
The 2nd quarterfinal in Class 2A sees #4 Pekin (24-1) take on #5 Okoboji (23-1). Pekin is the top scoring team in the 2A field, averaging over 64 points per game. They rely on the inside play of post player Beth Atwood (18.4 PPG, 9.3 RPG) and the outside scoring of sophomore Maci Gambell (15.4 PPG, 50 3s). Okoboji counters with three players averaging double digits. Megan Peschong (15.6 PPG), Molly Mitchell (11 PPG) & Emily Wintz (10.5 PPG) will try to slow down the high powered Pekin attack.
The Monday quarters will finish off with 3rd ranked and defending champion Unity Christian (22-1) taking on #6 West Branch (21-3). Lead by the inside/outside duo of Anna Kiel (19 PPG, 10.7 RPG) & Chanda Zomermaand (15.6 PPG, 64 3s) the Unity Christian squad has players that have plenty of state tournament experience. West Branch will need a big effort out of their trio of big shooters. Allyson Simpson (13.1 PPG, 46 3s), Tatum Koenig (13 PPG, 49 3s) & Haley Mullinix (9.4 PPG, 43 3s) have hit 138 of the 141 three pointers for the Bears on the season.
Tuesday will kick off with the final 2A quarterfinal as undefeated and 2nd ranked Iowa City Regina (24-0) faces #7 Manson-NW Webster (20-4). Kennedy Brown (8.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG) is the lone senior on the Regina roster as they make their way to state. She will be helped by sophomore Mary Crompton (16 PPG, 68 3s) and junior Sarah Lehman (10.2 PPG, 5.5 RPG) for the Regals. Manson-NW Webster likes to push the pace and will go with the scoring trio of Faith Troshynski (14.8 PPG, 58 3s), Cloie Herzberg (13.1 PPG, 34 3s) & Brenna Peters (12.8 PPG, 7 RPG).
The Pick: Unity Christian over Western Christian
The 2016 Girls State Basketball tournament will begin with the Class 1A quarterfinals. Newell-Fonda is back to defend their title from 2015 and are joined by top ranked Turkey Valley and undefeated Exira/Elk-Horn Kimballton.
In game 1 at 10 am, #4 ranked Burlington Notre Dame (23-1) will face 5th ranked Kee (22-2). Burlington Notre Dame is back in the state tournament after making the semifinals a season ago and are the highest scoring team in 1A, putting up 71 points per game. The Nikes are led by Riley Killbride who averages 18 per game, Gabrielle Koelker (13.4 PPG) and Johanna Myers (13.1 PPG). Killbride and Myers have both hit over 50 3s this season and in the middle, Emma Lynch averages a double double. Kee will bring one of the top defenses to Wells Fargo Arena, giving up 37.5 points per contest. Offensively the Kee-Hawks will rely on sophomores Ashley Schwartzgoff (11.8 PPG) & Kendra Cooper (10.8 PPG).
Game 2 will see top ranked and undefeated Turkey Valley (24-0) play unranked Mount Ayr (18-7). Turkey Valley is lead by do everything guard Shelby Reicks. The junior is averaging 15 points per game along with 6.8 assists and 5 steals per contest. Mount Ayr comes into the state tournament on a tear, winning 9 of their last 10 games, including an upset of Grand View Christian in the Regional Final. The Raiderettes have Kelcie Shields in the post, who is averaging 19.6 PPG and shooting 63.9% from the field, along with 10.2 rebounds a game.
Quarterfinal #3 will see last year’s state runner-up and 3rd ranked Springville (23-1) take on #6 Kingsley-Pierson (21-2). Springville has a balanced team and has 3 players averaging double digits a game with Mikayla Nachazel (14.7 PPG), Rylee Menster (14.0 PPG) & Megan Wagaman (10.9 PPG). The Orioles are the top team defensively in the field as well, giving up only 26 points per contest. Kingsley-Pierson will try to solve that tough defense behind Addison Hirschman (13.9 PPG), Allison Bailey (12.9 PPG) & sharp shooter Rachel Mercer (12.6 PPG, 59 3s).
The quarterfinals will wrap up with #2 Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton (23-0) going up against 7th ranked Newell Fonda (18-6). Newell-Fonda lost a couple of starters from last year’s state championship team, but are playing good basketball coming to the Well. Maddi Morenz (13.3 PPG), Erin Gerke (12.7 PPG) & Abby Smith (8.3 PPG) will try to rely on the experience from last year’s tournament. Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton fell to Springville in the state semifinals a year ago and are looking to take the final step this season. The Spartans have 4 players that are averaging double digits per game; Sophia Peppers (16.3 PPG), Mara Burmeister (13.1 PPG), Maggie Rasmussen (11.9 PPG) & Kealey Nelson (11.5 PPG). Burmeister and Rasmussen have also knocked in 45 three pointers.
The Pick: Turkey Valley over Springville
Tom Kakert from HawkeyeReport.com.
Chiefs Insider and Teddy Greenstein from the Chicago Tribune.
Jordan Bernfield from Chicago and Jason Simbal from CG Technologies in Vegas.
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