A native of far northern Iowa, Lisa Bishop is a newcomer to the Solon-Mount Vernon rivalry. She’s here in time for their most important chapter yet, in terms of girls’ basketball.
“When I got here, they basically said, the big rival is straight up the road,” said Bishop, the first-year coach at Solon. “We haven’t beaten them in a while, so what better time to do it?”
The Highway 1 rivals gather at Marion High School for Saturday’s Class 3A regional final. Tipoff is 5:30 p.m., with the winner advancing to the state tournament.
“Both of us are coming off big wins (in the regional semifinals), but I don’t think anybody’s going to have a letdown,” Mount Vernon Coach Dennis Roloff said. “It’s a rivalry game, and both teams won’t have any trouble getting back up for it.”
Mount Vernon (15-8) has owned the upper hand in this series lately. The Mustangs have beaten Solon (14-9) on 13 straight occasions, dating back to 2009.
The state field will be determined in 3A Saturday. Regional semifinals are set in 4A and 5A.
Other 3A matchups include No. 2 Center Point-Urbana (22-2) against Cascade (14-10) at Anamosa, and No. 14 Mid-Prairie (14-8) against South Tama (12-11) at Oskaloosa. Both of those games are set for 7 p.m.
Mount Vernon defeated Solon, 52-46, Jan. 15, then picked up a road win, 61-49, Feb. 8. The Mustangs own an advantage inside with Kaitlyn Volesky, who averages 16.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per game and shoots nearly 70 percent from the floor.
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“They haven’t had an answer for her yet,” Roloff said. “She’s not very tall, but boy, can she jump.”
Seven Metro teams will be in action in the 4A and 5A regional semifinals, and the two from the city of Marion are surging. Marion High School (17-4) is on a 10-game winning streak; Linn-Mar (17-4) has won eight in a row.
“We’ve been playing really good basketball the last month. It’s really exciting,” Marion Coach Corby Laube said. “We’ve gotten a lot better defensively.”
The seventh-rated Indians host DeWitt Central (15-6) in a 4A game at 7:30, at the conclusion of the Mount Vernon-Solon encounter.
“They’re very solid, very good defensively,” Laube said of the Sabers. “They have a lot of experience, and we’re still pretty young.”
In 5A, No. 6 Linn-Mar tangles with Cedar Rapids Prairie (11-11) in Saturday’s only all-Metro matchup. In other Metro/Iowa City 5A games, No. 2 City High (18-3) hosts Ottumwa (10-12), No. 11 Kennedy (17-4) entertains Muscatine (9-13), No. 13 Iowa City West (14-7) hosts Jefferson (9-12) and No. 15 Washington (14-7) hosts Davenport West (15-6).
Xavier (10-12) is at No. 14 Grinnell (15-6) in Class 4A. Top-rated Western Dubuque (22-0), the 4A state runner-up in 2014 and 2015, has a home date with Dubuque Wahlert (11-11).
SATURDAY’S CLASS 3A REGIONAL FINALS
No. 2 CENTER POINT-URBANA (22-1) vs. CASCADE (14-10), Region 4
* Time & site: 7 p.m., at Anamosa
* Overview: Needless to say, CPU has been waiting for this opportunity for an entire year. The Stormin’ Pointers let a big lead get away in last year’s regional final to Mount Vernon. They haven’t had many close games this season, just three decided by single digits, including a 61-54 loss to Marion on Jan. 29. They’ve responded with five consecutive wins. The Wooldridge sisters pace CPU; senior Arika (Winona State recruit) averages 15.5 points per game; sophomore Allison adds 13.3 ppg. Cascade got out to a 9-3 start, then concluded the regular season with seven losses in a 10-game span. But the Cougars have turned it back around in the postseason, knocking off Northeast (41-31) and No. 10 Monticello (41-36). Abbie Ruggeberg averages 9.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game to pace the Cougars.
MOUNT VERNON (15-8) vs. SOLON (14-9), Region 5
* Time & site: 5:30 p.m., at Marion H.S.
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* Overview: Mount Vernon has owned this series lately, defeating the Spartans 13 straight times — the Spartans’ last win over the Mustangs came Dec. 11, 2009. Both of the first two meetings this season were competitive; the Mustangs won at Solon, 52-46, on Jan. 15, then claimed a 61-49 verdict at home Feb. 8. Mount Vernon possesses one of the state’s most accurate inside shooters in Kaitlyn Volesky, who has converted 69.6 percent of her field-goal attempts. Volesky averages 16.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Hannah Bluder leads Solon at 8.3 points per contest. Both teams pulled mild upsets in the regional semifinals: Solon tripped No. 9 Union, 51-45, while Mount Vernon took down No. 15 Davenport Assumption, 70-60. Mount Vernon is looking for its fourth state trip in seven years; Solon’s last voyage was in 2006.
No. 14 MID-PRAIRIE (14-8) vs. SOUTH TAMA (12-11), Region 6
* Time & site: 7 p.m., at Oskaloosa
* Overview: A rugged River Valley Conference schedule has served Mid-Prairie well. The Golden Hawks have whipped their first two regional foes by a combined 78 points. Mid-Prairie is balanced across the board, with three players scoring in double figures — Ali Butters (12.2 ppg), Addison Rath (11.7) and Alex Rath (10.3). South Tama looks to bag its second ranked opponent during its regional run. The Trojans knocked off No. 12 West Marshall, 60-58, in the first round. Madie Bacon averages 12.8 points per game while Tieranny Keahna adds 12.2 points per game and shoots 57 percent from the floor.
SATURDAY’S CLASS 5A REGIONAL SEMIFINALS
(All games, 7 p.m.)
Urbandale (8-14) at Johnston (18-3)
Davenport West (15-6) at C.R. Washington (14-7)
Muscatine (9-13) at C.R. Kennedy (17-4)
Bettendorf (8-13) at Davenport North (19-3)
C.R. Prairie (11-11) at Linn-Mar (17-4)
Des Moines East (13-8) at West Des Moines Dowling (14-7)
Ottumwa (10-12) at Iowa City High (18-3)
Ames (11-10) at Southeast Polk (16-5)
Des Moines Roosevelt (9-13) at Waukee (15-5)
C.R. Jefferson (9-12) at Iowa City West (14-7)
SATURDAY’S CLASS 4A REGIONAL SEMIFINALS
(7 p.m. unless noted otherwise)
Decorah (12-10) at Mason City (13-8)
Independence (9-13) at Waverly-Shell Rock (18-3)
Dubuque Wahlert (11-11) at Western Dubuque (22-0)
C.R. Xavier (10-12) at Grinnell (15-6)
Clinton (4-19) at North Scott (17-4)
DeWitt Central (15-6) at Marion (17-4), 7:30 p.m.
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