Maquoketa Valley overcame early deficits in the first two rounds. Scot Moenck knows his team can’t afford to play with fire again.
“If you get down 10 to Cascade, it’s like being down 30,” he said.
And probably would be a precursor to postseason elimination.
We’ve reached the girls’ basketball regional-final round for classes 2A and 1A, with four games Monday involving area teams.
Fifth-ranked Cascade (21-1), the defending 2A state champion, duels with No. 11 Maquoketa Valley (20-2) at Dubuque Senior, and No. 8 North Linn (20-1) tackles No. 10 Wilton (21-2) at Cedar Rapids Prairie.
In 1A, three-time defending state champion Springville (15-9) meets Elkader Central (14-9) in a matchup of surprising unrateds at Dyersville, and South Iowa Cedar League foes Montezuma (No. 3, 20-2) and Sigourney (No. 15, 19-3) collide at Williamsburg.
Winners advance to the state tournament next week at Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines.
The Dubuque showdown features two of the top guards in the area, Cascade’s Nicole McDermott and Maquoketa Valley’s Samantha Wall. Both were 2A first-team all-staters last year.
“McDermott is a dynamic player. She gets a lot of rebounds and steals. She’s a winner,” Moenck said. “On the other hand, we expect a lot out of Sam.
“It’s going to be a grind-it-out game. That’s who they are, and that’s kind of who we are too.”
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Springville underwent a roster overhaul after winning its third straight title, but the Orioles are on the doorstep of a fifth consecutive voyage to Wells Fargo.
“We’re having just as much fun as always,” Orioles Coach Christina Zaruba said. “We plan to keep playing. We have nothing to lose, nothing to prove.”
Senior Nichole Kane is the lone returning starter from last year’s team, and the addition of Lauren Wilson (15.9 ppg) has helped in the transition.
There’s a good chance that the 1A state field could feature three teams from the South Iowa Cedar League, and one berth is guaranteed with the Montezuma-Sigourney victor. The Bravettes won their lone regular-season battle, 26-24.
“Last time we played, it was an ugly battle, but it was one of our best wins, the way we had to do it,” Montezuma Coach Janel Burgess said. “Sigourney is well-coached, and extremely patient on offense. They’re very disciplined.”
Monday's Class 2A regional finals
No. 5 Cascade (21-1) vs. No. 11 Maquoketa Valley (20-2)
7 p.m., at Dubuque Senior
State tournaments have become routine for Cascade, which is after its sixth trip to Des Moines in the last seven years. Last year, the Cougars went all the way. Cascade owns a 19-game winning streak and won the River Valley Conference North Division title. Maquoketa Valley, meanwhile, is on a tear of 14 games and owns a share of the Tri-Rivers West Division crown. This is a matchup of two of the area’s best guards, junior Nicole McDermott of Cascade and senior Sam Wall of Maquoketa Valley, both of which were first-team all-staters last year. McDermott averages 14.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.8 steals. Wall scores at a 21.2-point pace, along with 2.9 assists and 2.5 steals per contest. The Wildcats rallied from early deficits in both of their first two games.
No. 8 North Linn (20-1) vs. No. 10 Wilton (21-2)
7 p.m., at Cedar Rapids Prairie
North Linn already has vanquished two teams from the River Valley Conference (Northeast and Iowa City Regina). If the Lynx complete the hat trick, they’ll be heading back to the state tournament after getting tripped in the regional finals last year by Dike-New Hartford. Ellie Ware scored a career-high 32 points as the Lynx pulled away from Regina late, 50-39. Wilton has been a postseason buzzsaw, scoring 88 and 85 in its first two regional games and winning both handily. Wilton won the River Valley Conference South Division title; its two losses came by a combined three points. Senior Emily Lange is scoring at a 22.9-point clip to pace the Beavers. Tri-Rivers West co-champ North Linn gets 19.1 points per game from Grace Flanagan, who made six straight free throws to put Regina away.
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Monday's Class 1A regional finals
Springville (15-9) vs. Elkader Central (14-9)
7 p.m., at Cedar Falls
Springville’s reign as 1A champion isn’t over yet. The Orioles knocked off No. 12 Ackley AGWSR, 53-49, in the regional semifinals to set up a regional final between two postseason surprises. Nichole Kane was part of last year’s championship run, Springville’s third in a row. Kane is averaging 14.8 points per game, second to freshman Lauren Wilson (15.9). Eight of Springville’s nine losses have come against 2A teams. Central gave little indication that it was ready for a postseason surge; the Warriors lost their last three regular-season games. But they’ve rattled off three straight regional wins, most recently a 55-46 conquest of Gladbrook-Reinbeck. Hannah Erickson paces the Warriors at 18.8 points per game; the top five scorers for Central are juniors.
No. 3 Montezuma (20-2) vs. No. 15 Sigourney (19-3)
7 p.m., at Williamsburg
The two divisional champions of the South Iowa Cedar League met once in the regular season, with Montezuma escaping with a 26-24 decision Dec. 14. State quarterfinalists last year, the Bravettes were unbeaten in SICL play, and that’s saying something. North Mahaska and Lynnville-Sully give the league four 1A regional finalists. Montezuma junior Shateah Wetering is a University of Iowa commit and averages 19.1 points per game. Sigourney junior Megan Stuhr scores at a 14.2-point clip and averages 4.4 steals per game. Both teams have been super stingy in the postseason. Montezuma allowed a total of 38 points in its first two regional games, Sigourney 42.
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