True, Anamosa is a significant underdog to Crestwood in Saturday’s Class 3A girls’ basketball regional final.
But Taylor Zumbach was able to voice a legitimate reason for hope that her team can turn a memorable season into a historic one.
“It’s going to be really tough,” she said. “But they haven’t been in a close game all year. And we’re in close games every night.”
The state-tournament brackets will begin to take shape when Saturday’s 3A regional finals are completed. Anamosa (19-4) meets No. 1 Crestwood (22-0) at Oelwein, while No. 9 Monticello (18-5) tangles with No. 4 Osage (23-0) at Independence and South Tama (14-9) meets West Marshall (19-4) at Marshalltown.
Anamosa is a win away from its first state appearance in program history. The Raiders face a team that hasn’t had a game closer than 22 points against Iowa competition. Crestwood is averaging 69.4 points per game, allowing 29.8.
“If we’re going to get there, we might as well earn it, right?” Coach Jack Leighty said.
On paper, the Monticello-Osage contest looks like the best among 3A battles featuring area teams.
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“It’s a good matchup for us,” Panthers Coach Donnie Kremer said. “Osage reminds me a lot of (River Valley Conference rival) Camanche in their physicality. They’re all very athletic.
“But I really like the way we’re playing right now. Our conference has us prepared for the postseason. I like the direction we’re heading.”
Regional semifinals are set for 4A and 5A Saturday, with a flurry of activity for Metro/Iowa City teams.
Top-ranked Iowa City High (5A) and Marion (4A) begin their respective postseason journeys. City High (21-0) — led by Miss Iowa Basketball 2018 candidate Ashley Joens, opens with Burlington (7-15) at home. Last year’s 4A state runner-up, Marion (21-0) hosts Waterloo East (6-17).
Two Metro-vs.-Metro matchups highlight Saturday’s area 5A action: No. 11 Cedar Rapids Prairie (15-6) hosts Cedar Rapids Jefferson (8-13), and No. 14 Cedar Rapids Washington (12-8) goes for its third win this season against Cedar Rapids Kennedy (10-11) when it hosts the Cougars.
Elsewhere in the Corridor, 5A No. 9 Iowa City West (14-7) hosts Linn-Mar (3-18), and 4A No. 8 Cedar Rapids Xavier (13-8) meets No. 10 Western Dubuque (18-4) at Ron Thillen Gymnasium. West and Xavier were state semifinalists last year.
Regional finals are Tuesday in 5A and 4A.
Saturday's 3A regional finals
No. 9 MONTICELLO (18-5) vs. No. 4 OSAGE (23-0)
Site and time: 7 p.m., at Independence
Overview: Monticello has been a consistent winner during Donnie Kremer’s 16 years (263-116), and the Panthers shoot for their fourth state appearance — all since 2007. Neither team has been tested in the first two rounds: Monticello won by a combined 62 points, Osage by 54. Seniors Lauren Ries (17.2 ppg) and Taylor McDonald (14.6) carry the load for the Panthers. Osage last reached state in 2016, and the Green Devils are led by junior Rylee Olson at 12.2 points per contest. The class of the Top of Iowa Conference, Osage sports the second-best scoring defense at 32.6 points per game allowed. Monticello has a big advantage in strength of schedule, ranked No. 2 in 3A by BC Moore. The Panthers finished second to Cascade in the North Division of the River Valley Conference, the state’s deepest 2A/3A league.
BC Moore computer projection: Monticello by 3.
ANAMOSA (19-4) vs. No. 1 CRESTWOOD (22-0)
Site and time: 7 p.m., at Oelwein
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Overview: Anamosa is a game away from its first state appearance in school history, but a tall hurdle awaits. Crestwood has been blistering its competition all season; the Cadets’ closest game against an Iowa opponent was 56-34 (Lansing Kee). The Northeast Iowa Conference champions are averaging 69.4 points per game and allowing a 3A-best 29.7. Senior Shannon Pisney and sophomore Sharon Goodman both average 19 points and 7 rebounds per game. The Wamac Conference East Division champ, Anamosa is enjoying its best season since 2004-05 (22-3), and another win would make it a historic one. Senior forwards Sydney Volkenant and Sophia Wilt average 12.7 and 9.7 points per game. Taylor Zumbach scored eight points in a game-ended 10-0 run that sent the Raiders past Mount Vernon, 39-34, in the regional semifinals.
BC Moore computer projection: Crestwood by 31.
SOUTH TAMA (14-9) vs. WEST MARSHALL (19-4)
Site and time: 7 p.m., at Marshalltown
Overview: South Tama pulled the biggest upset in any class thus far, tripping up No. 6 Roland-Story, 56-52, in the regional semifinals. Junior guard Jessica Musgrave scored 24 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Musgrave has been the Trojans’ leader all season, posting 22.0 points (on 54-percent shooting), 8.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 5.7 steals per game. All five of the Trojans’ top scorers will be back next season. South Tama last reached state in 2011, West Marshall in 2012. West Marshall owns a seven-game winning streak and has a Musgrave-like star in senior Isabelle Gradwell, who averages 22.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 3.1 steals and 2.0 blocks per contest.
BC Moore computer projection: West Marshall by 13.
Saturday's 5A regional semifinals
All games, 7 p.m.
Davenport North (13-9) at Pleasant Valley (20-1)
Linn-Mar (3-18) at Iowa City West (14-7)
Burlington (7-15) at Iowa City High (21-0)
Davenport Central (3-18) at Bettendorf (16-5)
Sioux City West (16-6) at Johnston (18-3)
Cedar Rapids Kennedy (10-11) at Cedar Rapids Washington (12-8)
Des Moines East (13-9) at Waukee (17-4)
Cedar Rapids Jefferson (8-13) at Cedar Rapids Prairie (15-6)
Saturday's 4A regional semifinals
All games, 7 p.m.
Webster City (11-10) at Mason City (12-9)
Decorah (10-12) at Waverly-Shell Rock (15-6)
Maquoketa (11-11) at Center Point-Urbana (19-3)
Western Dubuque (18-4) at Cedar Rapids Xavier (13-8)
Waterloo East (6-17) at Marion (21-0)
Dubuque Wahlert (7-15) at Clear Creek Amana (11-10)
Washington (7-15) at North Scott (19-2)
Keokuk (14-6) at Fairfield (17-4)
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