The growing pains are gone. Now, the Anamosa Raiders are dishing out the hurt.
An eight-game winning streak has allowed Anamosa (11-3, 7-1) to keep pace with Mount Vernon atop the Wamac Conference East Division race.
The Raiders host Mount Vernon (11-4, 7-1) Friday, with the winner grabbing sole possession of first place.
“We feel like we can win every time we step on the floor,” Raiders Coach Jack Leighty said. “Eight in a row isn’t a complete surprise. But when we were 3-3, we had hit a tough spot ... I’m not sure I’d have thought we’d rattle off eight straight.”
This is Anamosa’s 11th — and final — season in its second stint of membership in the Wamac. It will join the River Valley Conference next fall.
The Raiders’ last run with title glory was back-to-back Tri-Rivers Conference River Division crowns in 2004 and 2005, and their most recent upper-division finish in the Wamac East came in 2010.
The past six seasons have produced divisional ledgers of 2-12, 4-10, 4-10, 2-12, 4-9 and 5-9.
“Our juniors and seniors, they won a lot of games through the years leading into high school,” Leighty said. “But it’s different playing varsity ball, and they went through some growing pains.
“You can see that experience paying off now.”
The Raiders are a balanced crew, led by senior posts Sydney Volkenant (11.1 points per game) and Sophia Wilt (10.2 ppg).
“If you take away our posts, our guards will step up,” Leighty said, referring to juniors Taylor Zumbach and Taylor Hinz.
The last time Anamosa faced Mount Vernon, it was a mismatch: Mount Vernon won, 52-25, Dec. 8.
“They are one of the best defensive teams out there,” Leighty said. “And they’re so patient on offense. If you get down 10 to Mount Vernon, it feels like 20.”
JOENS’ QUEST FOR 2,000
Iowa City High’s Ashley Joens is on pace to become the 19th girl in state five-player history to reach 2,000 points for her career.
A senior bound for Iowa State, Joens has accumulated 1,758 points in 83 career games, posting a 21.2-point career average. That includes a state-leading 29.1-point pace this season. She scored a career-high 44 points against United Township (Ill.) on Dec. 22.
Barring injury or cancellation, Joens is guaranteed nine more games this season.
The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union will release postseason pairings next week for classes 3A, 2A and 1A, the following week for 5A and 4A.
Regionals begin Feb. 8, with regional finals Feb. 17 (3A), Feb. 19 (2A and 1A) and Feb. 20 (5A and 4A). The state tournament is Feb. 26-March 3 at Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines.
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