What marks a major accomplishment?
According to Josh Bentley, something that is banner-worthy.
“There are three things that go up in our gym,” said Bentley, girls’ basketball coach at Cedar Rapids Prairie. “A conference championship, state qualifying and a state-championship banner.”
The Hawks are zeroed in on the first of those achievements.
Class 5A fourth-ranked Cedar Rapids Prairie (16-2 overall, 11-1 Mississippi Valley Conference) hosts No. 1 Iowa City High (15-2, 11-1) in a showdown Friday that will go a long way toward determining the Mississippi Division champion.
Prairie has won 15 games in a row.
Friday was originally scheduled to be the final night of the MVC season, but a backload of postponed games leaves a lot to be determined with the contenders — also including Cedar Falls (16-1, 10-1) and Cedar Rapids Washington (14-3, 10-2) — still playing Saturday, Monday and Wednesday.
“I don’t know how it’s all going to shake out,” Bentley said. “All we can do is keep winning and see where that takes us.”
Prairie has a makeup game Saturday against Waterloo East. City High, Washington and Cedar Falls all play each other.
Yeah, we’re still a long way from determining a Mississippi Division champion. Not so in the Valley Division, where Iowa City West (14-3, 10-2) has run away with it.
This has the potential to go down as one of Prairie’s best seasons ever. The Hawks have won only one MVC divisional title (in 2012-13), three state-tournament appearances (most recently in 2006), and that 2006 team’s 19 wins is a school record.
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“The process is to focus on each day, but if we find a way to scratch out a divisional championship and can get to state, that’s amazing stuff,” Bentley said.
An immediate challenge
Nathan Reck’s reaction to East Buchanan’s Class 2A first-round regional draw?
“Jeepers!” he said.
East Buchanan (14-6) travels to Alburnett (13-6) at 7 p.m. Saturday in the rubber match of a three-game season series. Alburnett claimed a 56-48 verdict on Jan. 8, then the Bucs got even, 61-53, on Feb. 1. Both teams won on the road.
“The first game, we started awful, then we made it a game at the end,” Reck said. “The second game, we played really well, led by 18 going to the fourth quarter, then weathered a run and were able to persevere.
“We’ve got to shoot well, and we’ve got to create turnovers to help bring our field-goal percentage up.”
Four Buccaneers average in double figures, led by junior Erica Hoffman (15.7 points, 7.7 rebounds per game). Alburnett is led by seniors Madison Osborn (15.7 ppg) and Maddy Schuchmann (14.5 ppg).
Saturday’s winner moves on to face No. 14 Maquoketa Valley (18-2) in the quarterfinals Tuesday. The stacked region also features defending state champion Cascade (18-1 and No. 5), MFL MarMac (20-1) and No. 6 Bellevue (17-3).
Class 3A regionals also begin Saturday, with No. 3 Center Point-Urbana (17-2) hosting Solon (3-17).
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