Prep Basketball

Super 10: Preseason Gazette area Iowa high school girls' basketball rankings

With three Division-I commits returning for their senior season, City High opens at No. 1

Iowa City High's Rose Nkumu heads downcourt after a steal at the state tournament last year. Nkumu is one of three seniors from Iowa City High that have committed to NCAA Division-I programs, and the Little Hawks are No. 1 in The Gazette's preseason girls' basketball area Super Ten. (The Gazette)
Iowa City High's Rose Nkumu heads downcourt after a steal at the state tournament last year. Nkumu is one of three seniors from Iowa City High that have committed to NCAA Division-I programs, and the Little Hawks are No. 1 in The Gazette's preseason girls' basketball area Super Ten. (The Gazette)

The first day of practice for the 2019-20 girls’ basketball season was Monday throughout the state. What better time for a preseason Gazette-area Super 10?

1.

Iowa City High

2018-19: 19-3 (13-1 MVC Mississippi, 1st)

Postseason: Class 5A state qualifier

The Little Hawks lost a grand total of two points to graduation from a team that took eventual 5A state champion West Des Moines Valley to overtime. The nucleus consists of three seniors — Aubrey Joens (Iowa State commit), Rose Nkumu (Marquette) and Paige Rocca (Missouri State) — and the arrival of the fourth Joens sister (Kelsey is a freshman) provides an additional weapon. About four teams appear just about dead-even in the chase for 5A championship honors, and the Little Hawks are at the front of that list.
 
2.

Marion

2018-19: 23-2 (18-0 Wamac East, 1st)

Postseason: Class 4A state runner-up

The Indians have been to the 4A state finals three consecutive years, but their dreams of a title repeat were broken by North Scott, 50-49. Then, in May, Coach Corby Laube abruptly resigned. His successor, Josh Claypool, inherits a team very capable of playing into the first Saturday of March. Senior Kayba Laube, a University of Northern Iowa recruit, is as deadly from long distance as anybody in the state. Juniors Riley Wright (UNI commit) and Ella Van Weelden (Valparaiso) combined with Laube to average 39.8 points per game.
 
3.

Center Point-Urbana

2018-19: 24-2 (17-1 Wamac West, 1st)

Postseason: Class 3A state champion

After three straight state-semifinal appearances, the Stormin’ Pointers rode both depth and length to the 3A title last year. They dominated all three of their games in Des Moines, by a composite margin of 83 points. Graduation claimed a good hunk of the aforementioned depth (four starters have graduated), but the length remains, most notably from Southern Illinois commit Adrianna Katcher and sophomore Rylee Goebel, a terror at the front of the CPU full-court press. That duo will shoulder much of the load while the other players develop around them.
 
4.

Cedar Rapids Xavier

2018-19: 14-9 (8-6 MVC Mississippi, 5th)

Postseason: Class 4A state qualifier

Now in his 35th season, Tom Lilly (552-254, four state championships) should climb into the all-time top 20 in terms of victories among Iowa high school girls’ coaches, perhaps by Christmas. Dynamic senior guard Caitlynn Daniels, a commit to the University of Alabama-Birmingham, runs the show. Three other senior starters are back — Libby Arnold, Aubrey Jones and Julia Shoger.
 
5.

Cascade

2018-19: 23-2 (18-1 River Valley North, 1st)

Postseason: Class 2A state semifinalist

Under Mike Sconsa’s leadership, Cascade has become one of the most envied programs in the area. The Cougars claimed a 2A state title in 2018, then returned to the Final Four last year. Four starters are back, including all-state senior guard Nicole McDermott, who has committed to play at Clarke University in Dubuque, and led the team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals last year. As always, stubborn defense will be a Cascade cornerstone.
 
6.

North Linn

2018-19: 21-2 (13-1 Tri-Rivers West, T-1st)

Postseason: Class 2A state qualifier

The Lynx have recorded nine consecutive seasons of 20-plus wins under Coach Brian Wheatley; they’re the only program in the state that can make that claim. North Linn has played in the regional finals eight straight years, and that stretch has included four state tournaments. Four starters return (including three double-digit scorers), led by the Flanagan twins. Circle the calendar: North Linn ends the regular season at Cascade on Feb. 13.
 
7.

Cedar Rapids Prairie

2018-19: 18-4 (12-2 MVC Mississippi, 3rd)

Postseason: Class 5A regional finalist

With the graduation of Sarah Schmitt, the Hawks’ backcourt trio has become a duo. Sidney McCrea (Northern Illinois commit) and Mallory McDermott (Western Illinois) return with hopes of keeping Prairie among the top players in the MVC. That pair averaged 27.8 points per game between them, so that’s a really good start. Question is, who will step up to help them shoulder the load?
 
8.

Iowa City West

2018-19: 17-4 (12-2 MVC Valley, 1st)

Postseason: Class 5A regional finalist

Coach B.J. Mayer already was expecting graduation to take a sizable chunk out of his roster. The loss of sophomore Emma Ingersoll-Weng further depleted the Women of Troy. But the return of juniors Audrey Koch (16.3 ppg) and Matayia Tellis will keep West afloat, and this remains the team to beat in the Valley Division, though the margin has shrunk somewhat.
 
9.

West Branch

2018-19: 15-5 (13-4 River Valley South, 2nd)

Postseason: Class 2A regional quarterfinalist

The Bears return 96 percent of their scoring from last year, led by Bradley University commit Sasha Koenig, who headlines a strong junior class. They’ll make their first Rivalry Saturday appearance Nov. 30, when they tangle with West Hancock in what could be a battle between Class 2A top-five teams. Then they’ll begin pursuit of their first league title since 2013.
 
10.

Linn-Mar

2018-19: 11-11 (8-6 MVC Valley, T-2nd)

Postseason: Class 5A regional semifinalst

After a rough debut season together in 2017-18, Nate Sanderson and crew bounded forward last year, and the progress ought to continue this winter. Carly Printy is back after missing the last six games with a hamstring injury, and the Lions return two double-digit scorers in junior Keegan Krejca and sophomore Alexis Beier. The Lions could push for the MVC Valley title if Iowa City West stumbles.
 
 

Area class rankings

Class 5A — 1. Iowa City High (19-3), 2. Cedar Rapids Prairie (18-4), 3. Iowa City West (17-4), 4. Linn-Mar (11-11), 5. Cedar Rapids Washington (16-6)

Class 4A — 1. Marion (23-2), 2. Center Point-Urbana (24-2), 3. Cedar Rapids Xavier (14-9), 4. Clear Creek Amana (11-8), 5. Western Dubuque (10-13)

Class 3A — 1. Monticello (12-7), 2. Waukon (19-4), 3. Jesup (15-8), 4. Mid-Prairie (12-10), 5. North Fayette Valley (11-11)

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Class 2A — 1. Cascade (23-2), 2. North Linn (21-2), 3. West Branch (15-5), 4. MFL MarMac (20-2), 5. Maquoketa Valley (20-3)

Class 1A — 1. Montezuma (22-3), 2. East Buchanan (15-7), 3. Sigourney (19-4), 4. Turkey Valley (13-8), 5. Springville (16-10)

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

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