Prep Basketball

Prairie's backcourt trio hopes to push Hawks to first state tournament since 2006

Sarah Schmitt, Mallory McDermott, Sidney McCrea have big goals

Mallory McDermott (left), Sarah Schmitt and Sidney McCrea hope to lead Cedar Rapids Prairie to its first state tournament since 2006. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Mallory McDermott (left), Sarah Schmitt and Sidney McCrea hope to lead Cedar Rapids Prairie to its first state tournament since 2006. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — It was the summer of 2011, between fourth and fifth grade.

Mallory McDermott was the new girl, a move-in from Cedar Falls.

“We were at an open gym, and Mallory was doing a new move that I hadn’t seen before,” Sidney McCrea said. “I tried to copy it, and she wasn’t happy.”

It wasn’t long though, before McCrea and McDermott was inseparable. And a few years after that, they — along with Sarah Schmitt — became three of a kind.

“We all have similar roles,” Schmitt said. “If two of us are playing well and one is bad, it doesn’t matter because we all like for each other to have success.”

Schmitt is a senior now. McDermott and McCrea are juniors. At Cedar Rapids Prairie, they form one of the best basketball backcourt trios in the state.

“Sid was the first person I met, and the three of us have always gotten along,” McDermott said. “I’m extra blessed to have both of them on my team.”

So is Josh Bentley, now in his fifth year as head coach at Prairie.

“They all get along and have a common agenda,” he said.

The three are interchangeable, but they all have their own identities.

A Western Illinois University commit, McDermott averaged a team-high 14.9 points per game last season as Prairie went 16-7, its best season since the Hawks reached the state semifinals in 2005 and 2006.

Her role: Shooter.

“She’s a scorer, first and foremost,” Bentley said. “She doesn’t see a shot that she doesn’t like.”

McCrea averaged 12.9 points last season, leading the trio in rebounds, assists and steals per game. She hasn’t committed yet, but there’s a possibility she will join McDermott at WIU. North Dakota State and Illinois State are on her radar as well, and she intends to visit some Ivy League schools.

Her role: Distributor. And leader.

“She’s the cerebral one. She makes us go,” Bentley said.

Schmitt averaged 13.1 points per game last season. She is a four-year starter and has committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Her role: Slasher. Penetrator.

“Sarah probably plays off the bounce better than the other two, and has a natural floater,” Bentley said.

So the Hawks have a shooter, a slasher and a passer. But you can’t win with just three players. And the Hawks want to win big this season.

Rachael Kilpatrick (4.8 ppg last season) is a capable post, and the Hawks say the other front-courter, Quinn Deahl, is much improved. Makenna Moenk provides backcourt depth.

“I think Quinn will have a big year for us,” Schmitt said.

McCrea added: “Our posts have put in a lot of hard work, and they’re getting more confident.”

Prairie’s 12-year state-tournament drought is the longest in the Metro. It’s a void the Hawks — rated No. 7 in The Gazette’s preseason Class 5A ratings — are determined to end.

“I think we’re going to surprise some people,” McDermott said. “The goal isn’t just to get there. We want to contend, and I think we’re capable.”

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Said McCrea, the cerebral one, “We have a specific agenda we want to achieve at the end of the year. But it’s about the journey, not the destination.”

The Hawks open the season Tuesday at Muscatine, then face defending Class 4A state champion Marion as part of Rivalry Saturday on Nov. 24 at Coe College.

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

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