When Midland’s schedule flipped, its fortunes changed.
Floundering at 4-10 in the first week of January, the Eagles did an about-face and won their final eight regular-season games.
“We finally started playing some (Class) 1A teams, and we were able to show what we were capable of a little bit,” Coach Nathan Becker said.
More than a little bit.
Midland (12-10) hosts Lone Tree (4-17) in a 1A girls’ basketball regional first-round game at 7 p.m. Thursday.
It’s the first night of the postseason. Regionals begin in Class 2A and Class 3A on Saturday, in 4A and 5A next Wednesday.
A 4-18 team last year, Midland appeared on a similar path while it battled the Tri-Rivers West Division gauntlet (North Linn, Springville, Maquoketa Valley, etc.) in the first part of the season. Then the schedule eased and the Eagles improved.
“Our ball movement has been so much better,” Becker said. “We’re shooting better. We’re passing better. Everybody is involved.”
Senior Callie Markmann (12.3 points per game) and junior Drew Jensen (11.7) have been the consistent scorers. The bonus recently has been finding another girl or two to chip in with 8-10 points apiece.
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Lone Tree also is putting on a late surge. The Lions have won three straight games after dropping 17 of their first 18.
For the winner, it gets a lot more difficult in a hurry. No. 1 Springville (18-3) — the two-time defending 1A state champion — awaits in Tuesday’s regional quarterfinal.
Springville is one of three area ranked teams, all in different regions. Ninth-ranked Lansing Kee (19-1) and No. 11 Montezuma (17-3) also drew first-round byes and host quarterfinals Tuesday.
Turkey Valley (12-9), the 1A state runner-up each of the last two seasons, opens at home against Riceville (5-15).
Cedar Valley Christian is the Metro’s first team to begin regional play. The Huskies (10-11), who have tied a school record for wins, are at Dunkerton (15-5).
Thursday's Class 1A regional first round
All games, 7 p.m.
Latimer CAL (0-19) at North Iowa (4-16)
Rockford (5-16) at North Butler (10-9)
Northwood-Kensett (2-19) at Mason City Newman (11-10)
Elkader Central (10-11) at Edgewood-Colesburg (9-13)
Riceville (5-15) at Turkey Valley (12-9)
West Central (1-17) at Tripoli (7-14)
Garwin GMG (8-12) at Meskwaki (11-9)
Waterloo Christian (1-17) at Clarksville (18-3)
North Tama (2-19) at Gladbrook-Reinbeck (6-16)
HLV (2-18) at Lynnville-Sully (15-6)
Ankeny Christian (4-16) at Collins-Maxwell (16-4)
Lone Tree (4-17) at Midland (12-10)
Clinton Prince of Peace (0-21) at Calamus-Wheatland (4-17)
Easton Valley (9-12) at Bellevue Marquette (15-7)
Cedar Valley Christian (10-11) at Dunkerton (15-5)
Central City (5-16) at Iowa Valley (11-10)
Twin Cedars (0-19) at BGM (8-13)
Tri-County (4-16) at English Valleys (12-9)
Iowa Mennonite (3-16) at Keota (3-18)
New London (2-19) at Winfield-Mount Union (10-11)
Burlington Notre Dame (8-13) at Fort Madison Holy Trinity (9-12)
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