Neither of the two regular-season girls’ basketball meetings between Iowa City Regina and West Branch were blowouts. Neither of them went down to the wire.
But they were close enough to make Regina Coach Jeff Wallace uneasy as they gear up for meeting No. 3, the most important encounter yet.
“It puts a pit in my stomach,” Wallace said. “It’s a rivalry game. It’s a third meeting. And (West Branch) is good.”
Seventh-rated Regina (19-4) hosts neighborhood rival West Branch (17-6) in a Class 2A regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday. It’s the spotlight game in the area as the 2A and 1A postseason continues.
“It’s a huge challenge,” Wallace said. “(West Branch’s) Tatum Koenig is one of the best guards in the state, in any class. And the rest of the team has really improved around her.”
Wallace could say the same about his own squad, which has won 13 of 14 games since the holiday break (the one loss was to 5A No. 1 Iowa City High). The run has coincided with the return of senior guard Mary Crompton.
“Obviously, we’re scoring at a better clip with her back,” Wallace said. “Her shooting has opened up some things inside as well. You can’t pack it in against us as much.”
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The Regals were a wrecking crew in the previous round, tying school records of assists in a game (29) and points in a quarter (35) as they routed Wapello, 79-24. They also set a school record for fewest turnovers (two).
Crompton and Koenig will continue their rivalry next year in the Missouri Valley Conference: Crompton has signed with Illinois State, Koenig with Bradley.
Regina’s two regular-season conquests of West Branch were virtually identical, by verdicts of 53-36 and 55-38.
Area schools Regina, North Linn and Cascade have been three of the state’s winningest programs though the past decade. North Linn has won 207 games in the past 10 years, Cascade 197, Regina 195. All are favored to be part of the 2A state-tournament field.
No. 1 North Linn (22-0) hosts Jesup (13-9) on Friday, and No. 6 Cascade (20-3) entertains MFL MarMac (17-5).
In 1A, top-rated Springville (19-3) hosts Bellevue Marquette (17-7), a team it edged, 38-34, Dec. 22. No. 9 Lansing Kee (20-1) will try to beat Turkey Valley (14-9) for the third time this season (they’ll meet at Lansing), and No. 10 Montezuma (18-3) hosts Fort Madison Holy Trinity (11-12).
Iowa Mennonite (5-16) is the biggest surprise of the area teams still standing, and travels to No. 3 North Mahaska (21-0). IMS defeated both of its first two postseason opponents by a single point.
Friday's 2A regional semifinals
All games, 7 p.m.
Jesup (13-9) at North Linn (22-0)
Central Springs (17-5) at Dike-New Hartford (21-2)
MFL MarMac (17-5) at Cascade (20-3)
Bellevue (18-5) vs. Sumner-Fredericksburg (20-2), at Dyersville
West Branch (17-6) at Iowa City Regina (19-4)
Danville (19-4) at Mediapolis (19-4)
Friday's 1A regional semifinals
All games, 7 p.m.
Mason City Newman (13-10) at West Hancock (20-2)
Turkey Valley (14-9) at Lansing Kee (20-1)
Bellevue Marquette (17-7) at Springville (19-3)
Iowa Valley (13-10) at Janesville (20-2)
Iowa Mennonite (5-16) at North Mahaska (21-0)
Fort Madison Holy Trinity (11-12) at Montezuma (18-3)
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