Elkader Central’s steady ascent has reached another peak.
The Warriors set a school record with 14 wins last year. As it turns out, that was just another stepping stone.
This year’s breakthrough: 18-3. And, perhaps, more to come.
“There’s a lot of dedication in these kids,” Central Coach Mark Wiley said. “We have kids that do the extra little things.”
Case in point: Hannah Erickson, a senior who has scored around 1,300 points in her career.
“She has never missed a practice in four years,” Wiley said. “Even when she was out with a concussion as a sophomore, she showed up every day.”
Erickson has been the leader behind the Warriors’ steady climb through the past four years, from 10-12, to 11-12, then 14-10, and now 18-3. Central finished second in the Upper Iowa Conference race, behind MFL MarMac.
Now it’s the postseason, and the 13th-ranked Warriors have an opportunity for a deep run in the Class 1A brackets. They open with a first-round battle with Edgewood-Colesburg (5-16).
All 1A openers Thursday tip off at 7 p.m.
“I like our matchup with about any team we’ll face,” Wiley said. “We’re not very big, and we’ll struggle a little with size. We’ll see a lot of 2-3 zone against Ed-Co, so our ball reversals are going to need to be crisp.”
Erickson’s scoring average has dipped a bit — from 18.5 points per game in 2018-19 to 15.5 this season — but that’s not a bad thing. The arrival of freshmen Delaney Scherf and Haley Frieden has given the Warriors more balance.
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While Central is seeking new frontiers, No. 10 Springville (17-4) begins pursuit of a sixth consecutive state berth. The Orioles open at home against Cedar Valley Christian (2-19).
Springville’s roster is full of sophomores and freshmen, led by sophs Lauren Wilson (16.3 ppg) and Morgan Nachazel (14.2 ppg).
The area’s top team, No. 5 Montezuma (20-1) earned a first-round bye and opens Tuesday at home against BGM or Baxter.
Class 2A heavyweights collide
North Linn Coach Brian Wheatley loves the timing of Thursday’s regular-season finale between the 2A third-ranked Lynx (19-1) and 2A No. 1 Cascade (21-0).
“(Cascade Coach Mike) Sconsa and I have talked about this for a couple of years,” Wheatley said. “We have that long layoff between the end of the regular season and the beginning of regionals. It’s always a question of whether we want to pick up a scrimmage, or whatever.
“Cascade has been one of the best programs in the state for quite a while, so we look forward to the challenge.”
Tipoff is 6 p.m. at Cascade for a game that could be a preview of a 2A state semifinal or state final.
“They’ve got a great group of seniors, and I think we do, too,” Wheatley said. “We’re pretty similar in a lot of ways. We both like to get out in transition, but I think both teams are going to have to earn a lot in the halfcourt game.”
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One more win would give the Lynx their 10th consecutive season of 20-plus wins. Two more wins would get Wheatley to 300 for his career (he is 298-80 in 15 seasons).
Thursday’s Class 1A regional first round
(All games, 7 p.m.)
Northwood-Kensett (2-19) at Mason City Newman (12-9)
North Iowa (0-21) at Ackley AGWSR (16-5)
Gladbrook-Reinbeck (7-14) at Conrad BCLUW (14-8)
North Tama (4-16) at Colo-Nesco (16-5)
Waterloo Christian (4-17) at Dunkerton (10-11)
Don Bosco (1-18) at East Buchanan (14-7)
Valley Lutheran (0-15) at North Butler (7-12)
Rockford (4-16) at Janesville (10-11)
West Central (8-12) at Clarksville (18-3)
Nashua-Plainfield (6-15) at Riceville (12-9)
Edgewood-Colesburg (5-16) at Elkader Central (18-3)
Wapsie Valley (5-17) at Tripoli (13-8)
Starmont (2-19) at Turkey Valley (17-4)
South Winneshiek (2-17) at Lansing Kee (14-7)
Easton Valley (11-8) at Clinton Prince of Peace (12-9)
Midland (3-17) at Calamus-Wheatland (11-10)
Lisbon (7-14) at Central City (9-12)
WACO (5-16) at Burlington Notre Dame (17-4)
Highland (6-16) at Winfield-Mount Union (11-10)
Hillcrest Academy (2-19) at Lone Tree (11-10)
New London (5-16) at Fort Madison Holy Trinity (12-9)
BGM (9-12) at Baxter (12-9)
HLV (4-18) at Meskwaki (13-7)
Garwin GMG (4-17) at Collins-Maxwell (17-4)
Cedar Valley Christian (2-19) at Springville (17-4)
Belle Plaine (10-11) at Iowa Valley (14-7)
Keota (2-17) at Sigourney (16-4)
Tri-County (1-20) at English Valleys (12-8)
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