Sharp-shooting Kee girls' basketball on a 15-game win streak

Hawks take 18-1 mark into regular-season finale

Lansing Kee's Ashley Schwartzhoff (left) and Makayla Walleser defend against Burlington Notre Dame during the 2016 girls' state basketball tournament. The Hawks are 18-1 this season with 15 consecutive wins. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Lansing Kee's Ashley Schwartzhoff (left) and Makayla Walleser defend against Burlington Notre Dame during the 2016 girls' state basketball tournament. The Hawks are 18-1 this season with 15 consecutive wins. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Tucked in the extreme northeast corner of the state, the girls’ basketball team from Lansing Kee is somewhat of a mystery.

“We don’t mind,” first year coach Lisa Steckel said. “We kind of like staying under the radar.”

Other than geography, there’s no excuse in overlooking the Hawks. They have proven in other sports — softball, in particular — that they are winners.

Other than the area’s three unbeatens (Iowa City High, Marion and North Linn), nobody from the area has a longer winning streak than the Class 1A ninth-ranked Hawks, who have won 15 straight and own an 18-1 record, 10-0 in the Upper Iowa Conference.

The lone loss came to 3A No. 1 Crestwood.

“These girls know how to win, and they’re used to winning,” Steckel said.

By day, Steckel is a customer service representative at a bank in Waukon. She was an assistant for Danny Love last year, then took over when Love stepped down.

She is assisted by her husband, Chad Steckel, an elementary principal in the district.

If you have followed Kee’s vast softball success — the Hawks are two-time defending 1A state champions — you’ll recognize most of the key names on this team.

Ashley Schwartzhoff leads the Hawks at 11.1 points per game, followed by Makayla Walleser (10.7) and Kendra Cooper (10.2).

There’s a common theme with this team. Accuracy.

The Hawks are shooting 49.5 percent from the floor, 41.3 percent from 3-point range. Both of those figures rank in the top five in the state (all classes).

“We’ve got some good shooters on the team, and they are consistently looking for someone to pass to,” Steckel said. “We get a lot of good looks that way. Sometimes, we actually overpass.”

The Hawks conclude their regular season Friday at Turkey Valley, then begin postseason play next week.

STREAKS EXTENDED FOR LYNX, REGALS

For North Linn and Iowa City Regina, the beat goes on.

The 2A top-ranked Lynx improved to 20-0 when they defeated Central City on Tuesday. That runs their streak of 20-plus wins to eight consecutive years.

North Linn has posted a 177-19 mark in that span, highlighted by a 25-2, state runner-up season in 2014-15. The Lynx won 24 games in 2013-14 and 2016-17.

Regina wrapped up its 10th consecutive league title when it defeated West Branch on Tuesday. The Regals have won each of the five River Valley Conference South Division titles since the league was formed, and won five Cedar Valley Conference crowns before that. That included three co-championships in the CVC.

MOST IMPROVED? IT’S MIDLAND

In strict terms of victories, Midland is the area’s most improved team this winter.

Riding an eight-game winning streak, the Eagles concluded their regular season with a 12-10 mark, an eight-win jump from 2016-17, when they were 4-18.

Upper Iowa Conference Large Division champion MFL MarMac (15-5) has increased its win total by six from last year. Anamosa (15-4) and East Buchanan (13-7) are up by five wins from 2016-17.

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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