Austin Mullikin calls it “bonus basketball.” It’s the reward of two postseason road victories.
“This is a cool opportunity,” said Mullikin, girls’ basketball coach at Williamsburg High School.
Williamsburg is one of four Class 3A area teams playing Saturday for state-tournament berths; the Raiders (12-11) face second-ranked Clear Lake (17-1) in a regional final at Grundy Center.
Tipoff is 7 p.m.
“We’ve had nothing to lose,” Mullikin said. “We’ve been emptying the tank every game.”
Elsewhere Saturday, 12th-ranked Solon (17-5) faces Davenport Assumption (7-11) at Clarence, No. 9 West Liberty (16-5) meets No. 5 West Burlington (20-1) at Wapello, and No. 14 Waukon (18-4) tangles with No. 6 Osage (21-2) at Waverly.
Williamsburg was a fifth-place finisher in the Wamac Conference West Division, but the depth and the strength of the league eventually steeled the Raiders.
“We got beat up at times, but it was a good chance to learn,” Mullikin said. “One thing ... we’ve been playing together. (In a first-round win over West Marshall), all of our starters scored eight points or more. That’s team basketball.”
Another Wamac squad, Solon has improved immensely since a three-win campaign in 2018-19.
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“I thought we’d have a chance to be good,” Solon Coach Jamie Smith said. “Then we started 1-2, but the kids didn’t hang their heads. As the season went along, it became OK to say we have a pretty good team.”
Good enough to share the Wamac East Division title. And good enough to outlast Monticello in a regional semifinal that went overtime.
A youngster has led the Spartans. At 19.4 points per game, Callie Levin is the highest scoring freshman in the state. She has received multiple Division-I offers.
“Obviously, she’s good,” Smith said. “I think she’s one of the best players in the state, regardless of grade. She makes our other players better.
“I think it has helped that her older sister (MaKinley Levin, a junior) was already in the program, and the other kids look at her as a little sister.”
Solon is seeking its first state berth since 2006. It’s been even longer for West Liberty, a lot longer. The Comets’ last trip to Des Moines came in 1965, when they finished third in the six-player tournament.
Eight Metro/Iowa City teams are among Saturday’s regional-semifinal field in Class 4A and 5A. Winners advance to Tuesday’s regional finals.
Saturday’s Class 3A regional finals
(All games, 7 p.m.)
REGION 4: Williamsburg (12-11) vs. No. 2 Clear Lake (17-1)
Time and site: 7 p.m., at Grundy Center
Overview: Williamsburg is a somewhat surprising regional finalist after picking up road wins over West Marshall and 12th-ranked Vinton-Shellsburg. The Raiders trailed the semifinal game, 36-32, before holding the Vikettes to six fourth-quarter points. Senior Charlotte Wetjen (13.7 ppg) is a prolific and accurate 3-point shooter, hitting 3.0 long-range shots per game and converting 44.8 percent of her tries. Clear Lake brings back three starters from last year’s state-semifinalist team, and the Lions are in pursuit of their sixth consecutive state bid. The owner of a nine-game win streak, Clear Lake averages a healthy 60.5 points per game, led by junior Jaden Ainley (14.6 ppg).
BC Moore computer projection: Clear Lake by 21.
REGION 5: No. 14 Waukon (18-4) vs. No. 6 Osage (21-2)
Time and site: 7 p.m., at Waverly
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Overview: Osage is back up a class after earning state runner-up honors in 2A last year. The Green Devils are a stingy squad; their defensive rate of 28.7 points per game is tops in 3A. They’ll try to slow a Waukon outfit that has scored 60-plus points in its last four games, including 72 and 67 in its first two postseason tests. Senior Annika Headington does a little of everything for the Indians, and does it all well. She averages 14.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 4.1 steals per contest. Margaret Wacker adds 12.0 points per contest. All of Osage’s key players — including seniors Dani Johnson (20.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg) and Ellie Bobinet (10.1 ppg) — were on the Green Devils’ 3A state-championship volleyball team last fall.
BC Moore computer projection: Osage by 4.
REGION 7: No. 12 Solon (17-5) vs. Davenport Assumption (7-11)
Time and site: 7 p.m., at Clarence
Overview: Only two years removed from a 3-18 season, Solon is on the doorstep of its first state-tournament berth since 2006. The Spartans earned a share of their first Wamac Conference East Division championship, and have done it with a seniorless roster. Freshman guard Callie Levin owns multiple Division-I offers, as well as a 19.4-point scoring average, along with 3.8 assists and 4.1 steals per game. Don’t be fooled by Assumption’s record. The Knights play in the Mississippi Athletic Conference, and seven of their losses have been by five points or less, or in overtime. The Knights didn’t play a 3A opponent until the postseason, and defeated Maquoketa and No. 10 Center Point-Urbana. Six-foot-2 sophomore post Ava Schubert (12.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg) presents a challenge in the paint.
BC Moore computer projection: Assumption by 6.
REGION 8: No. 9 West Liberty (16-5) vs. No. 5 West Burlington (20-1)
Time and site: 7 p.m., at Wapello
Overview: One of these teams is going to end a long state-tournament drought. West Liberty last advanced to state in 1965, West Burlington in 1977. The Comets made a big jump last year, when their march ended against North Polk in the regional finals, and after some bumps, they have made it back to the brink. They handed Centerville just its second loss of the season, 39-18, in the regional semifinals, their second straight defensive gem of the postseason. Sophomore Finley Hall leads West Liberty at 15.0 points per game, and junior Macy Daufeldt — one of the area’s top all-around athletes — adds 14.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per contest. West Burlington averages a robust 63.8 points per game, led by senior Sydney Marlow (13.8 ppg) and sophomore Abby Bence (13.1).
BC Moore computer projection: West Burlington by 1.
No. 1 Cherokee (21-0) vs. Panorama (19-4), at Rockwell City
No. 3 Unity Christian (21-2) vs. No. 11 Estherville ELC (18-5), at Spirit Lake
No. 7 Des Moines Christian (20-3) vs. No. 8 Roland-Story (16-4), at Saydel
No. 4 West Lyon (21-1) vs. Sioux City Heelan (17-5), at Orange City (MOC-FV)
Saturday’s Class 5A regional semifinals
(All games, 7 p.m.)
Dubuque Hempstead (4-15) at No. 3 Waterloo West (17-1)
Muscatine (9-8) at No. 12 Iowa City High (9-4)
Davenport Central (6-7) at No. 6 Iowa City West (11-3)
Bettendorf (10-3) at No. 13 Davenport North (10-1)
Cedar Rapids Jefferson (1-15) at No. 7 Cedar Falls (15-3)
No. 15 Cedar Rapids Kennedy (14-8) at No. 10 West Des Moines Valley (9-6)
Davenport West (2-11) at No. 8 Cedar Rapids Washington (12-3)
Linn-Mar (10-8) at No. 9 West Des Moines Dowling (9-6)
Saturday’s Class 4A regional semifinals
(7 p.m. unless noted)
Mason City (7-12) at No. 2 Ballard (19-1)
Benton Community (15-7) at No. 11 North Polk (14-7)
Washington (3-18) at No. 4 DeWitt Central (14-2)
Marion (13-8) at No. 14 Clear Creek Amana (17-4)
Decorah (12-8) at No. 5 Waverly-Shell Rock (20-2), 4:30 p.m.
Dubuque Wahlert (11-9) at No. 12 Cedar Rapids Xavier (10-6)
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