116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
It's not a great surprise to see the Coe and Simpson women matched up in the Iowa Conference basketball tournament.
The surprise is when that meeting is in the first round.
The Kohawks (17-8) host Simpson (16-9) Tuesday at 7 at Moray Eby Fieldhouse. The winner advances to the semifinals at No. 2 seed Luther (20-5) Thursday. The championship game is Saturday.
The tournament champion earns the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Division III tournament.
Coe and Simpson have combined to win six of the last seven Iowa Conference tournaments. Loras won last year and Simpson the year before. Coe claimed titles in 2011 and 2012, and Simpson from 2008 through 2010.
Coe is seeded third this year, Simpson sixth. Dubuque (17-8) is the No. 1 seed and will have homecourt advantage throughout.
'The league is very balanced this year,” Coe Coach Randi Henderson said. 'I think any team can win the conference tournament.”
Coe beat Simpson twice during the regular season, 75-69 Jan. 7 at Coe and 70-55 last Wednesday at Indianola. The Storm have shot a combined 30.5 percent against the Kohawks. Coe has shot 50.5 percent.
'It's hard to beat any team three times,” Henderson said. 'Simpson played a lot of zone against us the last time and that didn't work so well, so I think they probably will play more man-to-man. It's the tournament. You bring out whatever you can to get the win.”
Senior Megan Hayes likely will be playing her last home game for Coe. A four-starter, she is the only holdover from Coe's last championship team in 2012, when the Kohawks beat Simpson in the title tilt.
'It's definitely been a hard job for her, being the only senior on the team,” Henderson said. 'But she's stepped up to the challenge.”
Hayes averages 11.3 points and 5 rebounds per game. She leads the team in blocked shots with 44 and is Coe's career leader with 158.
'This is the last step for her to take,” Henderson said. 'She's a pretty awesome person.”
The Simpson-Coe game tips off conference tournament week at the small college level. By next Tuesday night, tournament champions and national tournament representatives will be decided in the Iowa, Midwest Collegiate, Midwest and Northern Sun Conferences for both men and women.
The Mount Mercy men (24-4) are the top seed in the Midwest Collegiate Conference and received a bye into Friday's semifinals. The Mustangs will host either Grand View (16-14) or St. Ambrose (16-14). The championship game is Sunday and the Mustangs would host. Mount Mercy is bidding for its second NAIA Division II national tournament bid in the last three years and third overall.
The Coe men (16-9) have a bye into Thursday's Iowa Conference semifinals as the second seed and will host either Luther (9-16) or Dubuque (20-5). The championship game is Saturday. Buena Vista (18-7) is the No. 1 seed.
The Mount Mercy women (17-13) won eight of their last 10 games to earn the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Collegiate Conference. They host Viterbo (8-22) Thursday, then would play a likely semifinal game at No. 2 seed Grand View (13-17) Saturday. The championship is March 2. St. Ambrose (18-8) is the No. 1 seed.
The Cornell women (14-9) are the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Conference and play Carroll (16-7) in Friday's semifinals at DePere, Wis. The championship is Saturday. St. Norbert (20-3) is the No. 1 seed and tourney host.
The Upper Iowa men (16-12) host Minot State (14-14) and the Peacock women (7-19) travel to MSU Moorhead (15-11) Wednesday for first-round games in the Northern Sun Conference. Both tournaments shift to the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D., for the final three rounds, Saturday through March 3.