Prep Basketball

Girls' basketball notes: Mixed MVC fortunes in Year 1 for Western Dubuque, Iowa City Liberty

Western Dubuque is competitive; Liberty's best days lie ahead

Western Dubuque’s Amy Ostwinkle coaches from the sideline at the 2016 girls’ state basketball tournament. The Bobcats are making their Mississippi Valley Conference debut this season, as it Iowa City Liberty. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Western Dubuque’s Amy Ostwinkle coaches from the sideline at the 2016 girls’ state basketball tournament. The Bobcats are making their Mississippi Valley Conference debut this season, as it Iowa City Liberty. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Glossy records will no longer be the norm, and Amy Ostwinkle accepts that. Postseason preparation, that’s what she’s after.

And that is what the girls’ basketball team at Western Dubuque — and Iowa City Liberty, for that matter — has now with its Mississippi Valley Conference affiliation.

“It’s a good fit for us,” said Ostwinkle, the head coach at Western Dubuque. “The competition we see every night, it’s going to help us down the stretch.”

A perennial contender in the Wamac Conference before leaving after the 2017-18 school year concluded, Western Dubuque is 8-7 overall, 3-5 in the MVC.

That’s a little misleading, considering that December victories over all three of the Dubuque schools did not count on the Bobcats’ league ledger. They play all three again, starting with a home contest with Wahlert on Friday, and those games do count.

The Bobcats have won their last two league games, against Cedar Rapids Kennedy (53-43) and Cedar Rapids Jefferson (64-40).

Meanwhile, Iowa City Liberty still is in the growth stage. The Lightning, in their second year (they played as an independent last season), are 2-11 overall, 0-8 in the MVC.

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“Obviously, the schedule is a lot harder that it was last year,” Liberty Coach Jaime Brandt said. “Every single night is a challenge. So many teams in this league have Division-I players, and we’re not one of those teams yet.”

Liberty is at a disadvantage right now because it has few seniors at the school — just one on its girls’ basketball roster. So Brandt is patient, knowing there is talent at the middle-school level that will make the program competitive down the road.

Western Dubuque is a Class 4A school in the IGHSAU five-class tier, and Ostwinkle has seen what playing in a big-school conference has done for programs like Cedar Rapids Xavier, Mason City, North Scott and Davenport Assumption.

“The level of play we’re going against, the close games we play every night, it’s going to prepare us for the postseason,” Ostwinkle said.

Comets on the upswing

Extended win streaks don’t come around often for West Liberty. This is a program that, since the turn of the century, has averaged five wins per season.

The Comets defeated Durant on the road Tuesday, 50-45, for their fourth win in a row. West Liberty (6-11 overall, 4-11 River Valley) is expected to extend the streak Friday at North Cedar.

This could be the beginning of something bigger. Leading scorer Macy Akers (9.1 points per game) is the only senior.

Record night for Schuchmann

Maddy Schuchmann set the Alburnett record for points in a game, tallying 36 in the Pirates’ 75-49 home win over Central City on Tuesday.

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Schuchmann, a senior, eclipsed the old mark of 34 points, set by Kristi Johnson during the 1996-97 season. Her scoring average jumped from 13.2 to 14.8 points per game as the Pirates improved to 10-4.

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

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