Bounce-back girls' basketball seasons underway for Washington, Kennedy

Sub-.500 marks of 2016-17 look like a one-year deal

Cedar Rapids Washington's Sammy Mia (42) scores a basket last season against Iowa City West. The Warriors take a 6-3 record into the holiday break. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Washington's Sammy Mia (42) scores a basket last season against Iowa City West. The Warriors take a 6-3 record into the holiday break. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

They’ve been playing girls’ basketball at Cedar Rapids Washington and Cedar Rapids Kennedy for 46 years now.

Last year was the first time both the Warriors and the Cougars finished on the wrong end of .500, and it appears now that was just a hiccup, and not the beginning of a trend.

“We’re a better team than we were a year ago, because we’re a better team on the defensive end,” Kennedy Coach Tony Vis said.

As for the Warriors?

“The big thing is, we’re communicating a lot better,” Washington Coach Chris James said. “We’re talking better, we’re switching on defense.”

Washington’s 8-15 ledger last season — James’ first as a head coach — snapped a 13-year streak of winning seasons. The Warriors (6-3 overall, 4-2 MVC) won their final three pre-holiday games, including a 61-54 conquest of Linn-Mar on Tuesday.

Kennedy (5-4, 2-2) has won four of its last five, capped by Tuesday’s 60-46 triumph at Cedar Rapids Xavier. The Cougars were 6-17 last year, their worst record in school history.

“We stepped up who we played during the summer, and we had good attendance during fall league,” Vis said. “We were young last year, and they learned to compete. This year, they’re learning to win.”

A four-year varsity contributor, Hailey Dolphin leads the Cougars at 18.6 points per game.

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Washington is averaging a healthy 66.7 points per game. Four Warriors are scoring in double figures, led by Sammy Mia (15.2 ppg). Mia is shooting 64 percent from the floor.

“If anyone would come to watch a practice, they’d know why,” James said. “She has such a motor; she goes 100 percent in everything she does.”

With 5A powers Iowa City High and Cedar Falls in the MVC Valley Division, it’s a stretch to say either of these teams will contend for a league title. They’re both trying to play for a favorable regional draw and aim to make some noise in February.

“I don’t want to put any limits on this team,” Vis said. “We want to win enough to avoid the big three (City, Cedar Falls and Iowa City West) when the pairings come out.”

WEST IS BEST IN TRI-RIVERS

The Tri-Rivers Conference schedule has reached a point in which all games are interdivisional.

So far, the West Division rules in a landslide. And Tuesday, in a sweep.

West teams won all seven of Tuesday’s encounters, by an average of 32 points. That extended the West’s season advantage to 19-2.

Friday’s action all is interdivisional, as well, with East teams hosting. Cedar Valley Christian (6-4 overall, 5-4 Tri-Rivers) probably has the best shot of breaking through; the Huskies host Edgewood-Colesburg (3-7, 2-7) at Springville.

MONSTER NIGHT FOR SMITH

Tipton’s Amanda Smith accumulated 33 points and 24 rebounds in the Tigers’ 79-48 home win over West Liberty on Tuesday.

A 5-foot-9 junior, Smith made 9 of 19 field-goal attempts and converted 15 of 19 tries from the free-throw line. Thirteen of her rebounds came at the offensive end.

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The effort upped Smith’s season averages to 14.6 points and 12.0 rebounds per game. Tipton takes a 3-5 record into the holiday break.

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

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