Prep Basketball

Girls' basketball notes: Marion has that look of a contender again

Tuesday's win over Solon puts Indians squarely back in the Wamac East title chase

Marion's Madison Prier (23) goes to the hoop against Cedar Rapids Washington earlier this season. Prier's aggressive pla
Marion’s Madison Prier (23) goes to the hoop against Cedar Rapids Washington earlier this season. Prier’s aggressive play was key in the Indians’ win over Solon on Tuesday, which put them back into the Wamac Conference East Division title chase. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

So you really thought Marion would surrender its crown without resistance?

After a two-week COVID-19 shutdown, two key injuries and a 2-4 start, the Indians are back in the Wamac Conference East Division title hunt.

“The first couple of losses hit pretty hard, considering where we’ve been,” Marion Coach Josh Claypool said. “We haven’t been used to that.

“It gave us a chance to reflect, put things in perspective. We had to do some digging and rallying of the troops.”

Consider them rallied.

Marion (8-4 overall, 8-2 Wamac) has won six consecutive games, including a 62-53 victory over Solon (10-4, 10-2) Tuesday that put the Indians at eye level with the Spartans.

Both teams are 5-1 in divisional play.

Down three points at halftime, Marion fought back behind Ella Van Weelden (28 points) and Madison Prier (20).

Prier was the spark.

“We’d been really soft with the ball,” Claypool said. “We didn’t want to get to the rim.

“Madison isn’t very tall, and she doesn’t weigh a lot. But she was the first person to make a concerted effort to get to the rim.”

A Valparaiso University recruit, Van Weelden suffered a sprained ankle early in the season. One of the best long-range shooters in the area, Sadie Struchen has battled a sore foot.

And the virus kept the Indians off the floor from Thanksgiving until Dec. 12.

Nonetheless, a sixth consecutive divisional title is now in play.

“It’s still a goal, our first goal every year,” Claypool said. “A month ago, I’m not sure who was still buying in when I said we could still get back in this thing.

“We’ve gotten on a little roll, and our goals are still in front of us.”

The Indians face a tricky challenge Friday, at home against Dyersville Beckman (5-8, 5-7). Four of the Blazers’ losses have been by six points or less.

Rematch time

Friday’s slate features a pair of rematch showdowns.

Class 2A top-ranked Maquoketa Valley (15-0, 9-0) travels to Troy Mills for a Tri-Rivers Conference West Division encounter with No. 4 North Linn (12-1, 7-1).

The Wildcats rolled to a 52-34 victory Jan. 2 at Delhi, holding the Lynx without a field goal for the final 11-plus minutes of the first half.

Maquoketa Valley ranks second in 2A in scoring defense at 27.9 points allowed per game; North Linn is sixth at 34.3.

Meanwhile at Iowa City High, the Class 5A No. 8 Little Hawks (7-2, 5-1) welcome No. 7 Iowa City West (5-3, 4-1) in a Mississipi Valley Conference tussle.

West earned a 75-63 victory Dec. 18 in the season opener for both teams.


Both teams are gathering momentum: City has won four straight games; West has stacked together three in a row, including an 86-76 eye-opener against Cedar Falls on Jan. 15.

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