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Unselfish Orioles on the brink of return trip

Girls' basketball: State berths on the line Monday in 1A and 2A

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When they’re passing and catching, cutting and moving, the Springville Orioles play a beautiful brand of basketball.

So beautiful, Coach Nate Sanderson makes YouTube videos of the highlights and puts them to music. No wonder they rank fourth in the state in assists.

“I love watching it when we make six, seven, eight passes and the ball never hits the floor,” Sanderson said. “We can put five kids on the floor that can handle the ball well, pass and catch, and none of them have any concern about how many points they are going to score.

“The kids take a lot of pride in the way they play the game together.”

Third-ranked Springville is on the brink of a second straight state-tournament appearance. The Orioles (22-1) face No. 9 Montezuma (22-1) in a Class 1A regional final at 7 p.m. Monday at North English.

It’s one of five games in the area that will determine state-tournament berths. Also in 1A, No. 1 Turkey Valley (23-0) tangles with No. 12 Northwood-Kensett (19-4) at Charles City, and No. 5 Lansing Kee (21-2) takes on No. 14 Lynnville-Sully (21-2) at Cedar Falls.

In Class 2A, second-rated Iowa City Regina (23-0) faces North Linn (20-3) at Cedar Rapids Washington, and No. 6 West Branch (20-3) faces No. 15 Durant (18-5) in a battle of divisional rivals at Tipton.

Class 4A and Class 5A regional finals are Tuesday.

Springville already has drubbed two South Iowa Cedar League teams (Tri-County and Sigourney) by a combined 67 points. Montezuma also hails from the SICL.

“From what we hear, they’re pretty athletic,” Sanderson said. “They like to push the ball, and so do we. They like to press, and so do we.

“The biggest difference is that our kids have been in this situation. We have a lot of confidence. If we do what we do, we should be OK.”

Springville was the 1A runner-up last year, and North Linn took identical honors in 2A while Regina also reached state.

The Regals have been the pacesetter in a very strong River Valley Conference.

“They’re skilled at every position,” Lynx Coach Brian Wheatley said. “(Sophomore guard Mary) Crompton can do everything for them. We’ll give our best effort and see what happens.”

North Linn held Alburnett scoreless for nearly 14 1/2 minutes in a 30-point regional-semifinal win Friday.

“If we play the same way defensively, hopefully that will carry us through,” said North Linn senior Morgan Boer.

Area teams Turkey Valley and Lansing Kee both are seeking their first trips to state. West Branch last qualified in 1972.

MONDAY’S CLASS 2A REGIONAL FINALS

No. 2 IOWA CITY REGINA (23-0) vs. NORTH LINN (20-3), Region 3

* Time & site: 7 p.m., at Cedar Rapids Washington

* Overview: These teams met in a 2013 regional final, with Regina pulling a 43-41 upset. The shoe’s on the other foot now, with the Regals as the favorite. Regina went without a blemish throughout a challenging River Valley Conference schedule, then overcame a halftime deficit to get past Sumner-Fredericksburg, 49-34, in the regional semifinals. North Linn is gunning for its third straight state bid; the Lynx were 2A runners-up last year. North Linn won its first two regional games by a combined 76 points and has won 20 games for the sixth consecutive season. It will be a battle between Regina’s speed and shooters, led by Mary Crompton (15.7 ppg, .440 3FG%) and North Linn’s size — Morgan Boer and Ashley Tull combine for 31.1 points and 13.9 rebounds per game.

No. 6 WEST BRANCH (20-3) vs. No. 15 DURANT (18-5), Region 4

* Time & site: 7 p.m., at Tipton (Middle School)

* Overview: The River Valley Conference South Division rivals meet for the third time this season; West Branch claimed the first two battles by decisions of 62-48 and 47-35. Both teams are looking to end a long state-tournament drought. Durant last qualified in 1989, when the Wildcats were five-player runners-up to Muscatine. West Branch’s dry spell runs back even further. The Bears were six-on-six state contestants in 1972. Several of West Branch’s faces are the same as those who fueled a run to the state semifinals in volleyball. Senior Allyson Simpson and sophomore Tatum Koenig lead the team at 13.4 and 12.7 points per game, respectively. Durant counters with senior Janey Botkins (14.6 ppg).

MONDAY’S CLASS 1A REGIONAL FINALS

No. 1 TURKEY VALLEY (23-0) vs. No. 12 NORTHWOOD-KENSETT (19-4), Region 2

* Time & site: 7 p.m., at Charles City

* Overview: Regardless of outcome, the winner will advance to the state tournament for the first time. Turkey Valley got to the regional final last year before falling a bit short against Newell-Fonda, the eventual 1A state champion. The Trojans have been ranked No. 1 since knocking off Springville, last year’s state runner-up, 49-42 at Rivalry Saturday. Junior guard Shelby Reicks is a playmaker for the Trojans, averaging 15.4 points, 6.9 assists and 5.0 steals per game. Sophomore Emily Busta adds 10.8 points per game and is a threat from outside. Northwood-Kensett has a backcourt star of its own in Hattie Davidson, who posts 21.0 points per contest. N-K suffered though a three-game midseason losing streak, but has won 10 of 11 since.

No. 5 LANSING KEE (21-2) vs. No. 14 LYNNVILLE-SULLY (21-2), Region 3

* Time & site: 7 p.m., at Cedar Falls

* Overview: These are the survivors of a wide-ranging region geographically; these schools are 220 miles apart. Lynnville-Sully has a big advantage in postseason experience. The Hawks are a win from their fifth state appearance in the last seven years. Kee High, meanwhile, has never been to state. Both of Kee’s losses came at the hands of 1A top-ranked Turkey Valley, and it has won eight consecutive games. Sophomores Ashley Schwartzhoff and Kendra Cooper average 11.7 and 10.8 points per game, respectively. Lynnville-Sully shared the SICL West title with Montezuma and started the season 18-0. Three Lynnville-Sully players average in double figures, led by senior Brenna Lanser (15.1 ppg).

No. 3 SPRINGVILLE (22-1) vs. No. 9 MONTEZUMA (22-1), Region 5

* Time & site: 7 p.m., at North English

* Overview: Springville already has beaten two South Iowa Cedar League teams in the postseason, and if the Orioles complete the hat trick, they’ll advance to state for the second straight year. Montezuma is the area’s most improved team after going 8-14 a year ago. The Bravettes shared the SICL West title. Both teams are sophomore-dominant and equipped for a long run of success. Springville starts four sophs and is led by the inside-outside tandem of Mikayla Nachazel (14.8 ppg) and Rylee Menster (13.9 ppg, 5.3 spg). Montezuma is working on a 17-game winning streak. Breck Goodman averages 12.3 points per game and shoots 62 percent from the floor. The Bravettes’ last state trip was in 1994, their first year as a five-player school.

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

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