116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The Cedar Rapids Xavier girls basketball program hasn’t always been a place of democracy and diplomacy.
“I used to think of myself as the king, and the players were the serfs,” Saints Coach Tom Lilly said.
Time has a way of changing things.
“I’m a lot mellower now,” Lilly said. “Earlier in my career, I was kind of a tyrant. I was like Woody Hayes or Bo Schembechler. It was going to be my way or the highway.
“As you get a little older, you view the world differently. You come to realize that other parents look at their children as I look at mine.”
Age has softened Lilly, who turned 67 on March 19. But it hasn’t compromised his coaching skills. His 37th season — his 24th at Xavier — produced a 20-6 record and was culminated by the Saints’ fifth state championship.
Lilly has been selected as The Gazette’s 2021-22 area coach of the year.
In a somewhat anticlimactic verdict, Cedar Rapids Washington’s Hannah Stuelke follows a Miss Iowa Basketball pick as the area player of the year.
Stuelke headlines a 13-player roster (we simply couldn’t carve it to the customary 12) that also consists of Kelsey Joens and Eviyon Richardson of Iowa City High, Jasmine Barney of Iowa City Liberty, Macy Daufeldt of West Liberty, Libby Fandel of Xavier, Ryley Goebel of Center Point-Urbana, Kamryn Kurt of North Linn, Callie Levin of Solon, Kaliyah Sain of Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Meena Tate of Iowa City West, Jenna Twedt of Benton Community and Lauren Wilson of Springville.
A University of Iowa signee, Stuelke is a member of the all-area team for the fourth time.
“It’s been the best four years of my life,” Stuelke said of her time at Washington, when the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association named her Miss Iowa Basketball 2022 earlier this month. “So many things have happened that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
A 6-foot-2 forward, Stuelke led the state in scoring, at 29.1 points per game, as the Warriors finished 17-6 and reached the Class 5A regional finals. She also pulled down 10.3 rebounds per game and shot 58.1 percent from the field.
In her four years, Washington compiled a 55-28 record. She is the school’s all-time leading scorer (1,793 points) and rebounder (853 boards).
“What she did statistically, I don’t know if it will ever be done again at Washington,” Coach Chris James said. “By the end of her freshman year, she was the best player on our team.
“She’s 6-2, but from end line to end line, she’s the fastest player I’ve ever coached. And by her junior year, she made a lot of growth in her confidence, both on and off the court.”
Goebel was named to the all-area squad for the third time; Joens, Levin and Wilson are two-time honorees.
The immediate emergence of the freshman Fandel — the 4A all-tournament captain — was one reason for Xavier’s title run. There were others.
“We’ve known for a few years that this senior class and this junior class, there were a lot of components there that you need to be successful,” Lilly said. “You have to have a passion, and these kids had that, but they also found a lot of joy in the game and each other.”
Lilly owns a career record of 598-275 (189-102 in 13 years at Cedar Rapids Regis, 409-173 in 24 seasons at Xavier). Though his system has become more of a democracy in recent years — “I’ll ask them in timeouts, ‘What do you guys want to run here?’” he said — some of his quirks continue.
First, there’s the wardrobe. The khaki pants and the saddle shoes are mainstays. But the ties are expendable; when the Saints suffer a loss, the tie “isn’t any good any more,” Lilly said, and it is retired.
And there are the Christmas lights, that annually stay on in Lilly’s yard until the Saints’ postseason run is over.
“I unplugged them when we got home Saturday (March 5, after the Saints won the title),” he said.
The 2021-22 Gazette all-area girls basketball team
Jasmine Barney, 5-8, jr., Iowa City Liberty — Moved to Liberty from Cedar Falls in the offseason and averaged 18.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists as the Lightning (12-11) reached the Class 5A regional semifinals. 787 points, 365 rebounds, 218 assists in her career with one season to go. IPSWA 5A second-team all-state.
Macy Daufeldt, 6-0, sr., West Liberty — Averaged 18.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.9 steals as the Comets (19-5) reached the Class 3A regional semifinals. Finished her career with 1,192 points, 633 rebounds and 241 steals. IPSWA 3A first-team all-state. Signed with Drake University for volleyball.
Libby Fandel, 6-0, fr., Cedar Rapids Xavier — Averaged 13.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as the Saints (20-6) won the Class 4A state championship. Shot 44.5 percent from the floor, including 41.7 percent from 3-point range. 4A all-tournament captain. 337 career points and 137 rebounds with three seasons remaining. IPSWA 4A first-team all-state.
Ryley Goebel, 6-0, sr., Center Point-Urbana — Three-time selection. Averaged 17.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.2 steals per game as the Stormin' Pointers (21-4) advanced to the Class 3A state quarterfinals. Shot 56.8 percent from the floor. 1,448 points, 658 rebounds and 319 steals in her career. A member of CPU's state-title team of 2019. IPSWA 3A first-team all-state. Signed with the University of Northern Iowa.
Kelsey Joens, 5-10, jr., Iowa City High — Two-time selection. Averaged 21.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game as the Little Hawks (19-5) reached the Class 5A state quarterfinals. Shot 81.2 percent from the free-throw line. 1,056 career points with one season remaining. IPSWA 5A first-team all-state. Committed to Iowa State University.
Kamryn Kurt, 5-6, soph., North Linn — Averaged 17.7 points, 4.8 assists and 3.1 steals per game as the Lynx (23-3) reached the Class 1A state semifinals. Shot 51.2 percent from the field (44.0 percent from 3-point range) and 73.8 percent from the line. 786 career points, 258 assists and 150 steals with two seasons remaining. IPSWA 1A first-team all-state.
Callie Levin, 5-9, soph., Solon — Two-time selection. Averaged 21.0 points, 4.2 assists and 4.3 steals per game as the Spartans went 15-8. Shot 43.6 percent from the field, 77.9 percent from the free-throw line. 919 career points with two seasons remaining. IPSWA 4A first-team all-state. Committed to the University of Iowa.
Eviyon Richardson, 5-11, sr., Iowa City High — Averaged 14.9 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game as the Little Hawks (19-5) reached the Class 5A state quarterfinals. Shot 37.4 percent from 3-point range and 77.9 percent from the line. Completed her career with 833 points and 527 rebounds. IPSWA 5A second-team all-state. Signed with the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Kaliyah Sain, 6-0, jr., Cedar Rapids Kennedy — Averaged 19.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists as the Cougars (12-11) advanced to the Class 5A regional semifinals. Shot 71.4 percent from the free-throw line. 718 career points and 325 rebounds with one season remaining. IPSWA 5A second-team all-state.
Hannah Stuelke, 6-2, sr., Cedar Rapids Washington — Four-time selection. Averaged 29.1 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game as the Warriors (17-6) reached the Class 5A regional finals. Shot 58.1 percent from the field. 1,793 career points and 853 career rebounds. IPSWA 5A first-team all-state. Signed with the University of Iowa.
Meena Tate, 5-10, jr., Iowa City West — Averaged 15.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game as the Trojans (19-4) reached the Class 5A regional finals. 655 career points, 232 rebounds and 174 assists with one season remaining. IPSWA 5A second-team all-state.
Jenna Twedt, 5-8, jr., Benton Community — Averaged 18.6 points and 3.4 assists as the Bobcats (19-6) reached the Class 4A state quarterfinals. Shot 80.0 percent from the free-throw line. 1,292 points, 273 rebounds, 241 assists and 209 steals with one season remaining. IPSWA 4A second-team all-state.
Lauren Wilson, 6-0, sr., Springville — Two-time selection. Averaged 24.5 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 4.4 blocks per game as the Orioles (23-2) reached the Class 1A state quarterfinals. Shot 58.3 percent from the floor, including 41.8 percent from 3-point range. Finished her career with 1,891 points, 1,032 rebounds and 380 blocks. IPSWA 1A first-team all-state. Signed with Concordia University, St. Paul.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Hannah Stuelke, sr., Cedar Rapids Washington
COACH OF THE YEAR
Tom Lilly, Cedar Rapids Xavier