It’s been a while.
It’s been nine years since Lisbon won more girls’ basketball games than it lost. The Lions have put themselves in position to do it with an extended postseason run.
It’s been 10 years since Central City has posted a winning season. The last time the Wildcats finished north of .500 was 2011, when they reached the regional finals.
It’s been 14 years since HLV has reached double digits in victories. The Warriors are one win away.
Those are some of the storylines as the postseason begins Thursday, with Class 1A first-round regional games. The top area teams — seventh-ranked Montezuma and No. 8 Springville — received byes and begin the tournament trek Tuesday, so we’ll catch up with them another time.
Today is about the upwardly mobile small schools.
The common denominator among Lisbon, Central City and HLV is a new, or nearly new, coaching regime.
After coaching two years at Central City, Coach Henry Martinson left for a year to become an assistant at Marion. Now, he’s back with the Wildcats.
“It just wasn’t the right fit, then this came back open,” he said.
When Martinson began his first ride, in 2017, “it was OK to be below average. There wasn’t much for fundamentals,” he said. “They didn’t know what a pick and roll was. But this junior class has a different feel. They’ve learned to play hard, play smart, play together.”
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The Wildcats (11-9) have closed the gap between themselves and the traditional powers of the Tri-Rivers Conference — North Linn, Maquoketa Valley and Springville. Now they’d like to make a little postseason noise. They open at home against Don Bosco (3-17).
Junior Sara Reid leads the team at 15.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
HLV has been the epitome of coaching instability lately. Kyle Shaull is the fourth head coach in four years, and for the Warriors’ senior class, the sixth in six years dating back to middle school.
Like Martinson, Shaull walked into a program in which players lacked fundamentals.
“The first two weeks of practice, all we did was fundamentals,” he said. “The girls asked, ‘When are we going to learn plays?’ How can you run plays if you can’t dribble and can’t shoot?
“They didn’t have a lot of basketball knowledge. But they are athletic. I told them our goal was .500, and we’re right there. I want to thank them for buying in.”
HLV (9-10) faces a road game Thursday against English Valleys (9-10).
Lisbon (9-9) is ascendant under Coach Diamond Boyd; the Lions finished second in the Tri-Rivers East Division, and face league foe Easton Valley (9-10) at home.
Thursday’s Class 1A regional first round
North Iowa (1-19) at Northwood-Kensett (5-14)
Rockford (1-17) at Mason City Newman (11-10)
Waterloo Christian (12-8) at North Tama (8-12)
Valley Lutheran (0-16) at Conrad BCLUW (12-9)
North Butler (3-17) at Ackley AGWSR (12-7)
Gladbrook-Reinbeck (8-10) at Colo-Nesco (11-8)
Janesville (4-17) at Wapsie Valley (4-17)
Tripoli (3-17) at Nashua-Plainfield (10-10)
West Central (8-11) at Elkader Central (10-11)
Dunkerton (9-11) at Turkey Valley (16-5)
Don Bosco (3-17) at Central City (11-9)
Lansing Kee (10-10) at Riceville (18-3)
Edgewood-Colesburg (2-18) at East Buchanan (11-9)
Easton Valley (9-10) at Lisbon (9-9)
Midland (4-14) at Clinton Prince of Peace (14-4)
Cedar Valley Christian (0-17) at Bellevue Marquette (7-8)
Fort Madison Holy Trinity (5-16) at Winfield-Mount Union (16-0)
Lone Tree (4-11) at Calamus-Wheatland (11-8)
New London (3-15) at Burlington Notre Dame (16-1)
Highland (2-12) at WACO (7-12)
Keota (2-14) at Iowa Valley (12-7)
Grand View Christian (9-9) at North Mahaska (13-3)
Tri-County (2-19) at Lynnville-Sully (16-3)
BGM (1-20) at Baxter (17-2)
HLV (9-10) at English Valleys (9-10)
Garwin GMG (6-13) at Collins-Maxwell (19-1)
Meskwaki (8-11) at Belle Plaine (14-7)
Mormon Trail (9-9) at Murray (11-9)
Bedford (4-15) at Stanton (18-2)
Diagonal (8-13) at Lamoni (12-5)
Southwest Valley (4-16) at Lenox (17-3)
Seymour (2-16) at Moravia (13-8)
Moulton-Udell (7-12) at Sigourney (16-5)
Twin Cedars (11-10) at Wayne (13-7)
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