Playoff basketball preview: Regional pairings released for area girls teams

By Brendan Schnoebelen
Posted 2/7/24


The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union released postseason regional brackets for classes 1A through 3A last Wednesday afternoon.  

Mid-Prairie, Hillcrest Academy, Highland, …

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Playoff basketball preview: Regional pairings released for area girls teams



The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union released postseason regional brackets for classes 1A through 3A last Wednesday afternoon. 

Mid-Prairie, Hillcrest Academy, Highland, and Lone Tree now have their postseason roadmap laid out for them.

Mid-Prairie Preview

 The Mid-Prairie Golden Hawk girls have been placed in the Class 3A Region 5 bracket for their postseason run. 

The Golden Hawks (9-10 overall, 5-5 in the River Valley South) have been paired with the Albia Blue Demons (7-11 overall, 4-9 in the South Central). 

The game will take place on Saturday, February 10th at 7:00 p.m. on the campus of Mid-Prairie High School. The Region 5 bracket also features teams such as Class 3A’s fourth-ranked Solon Spartans, the Fairfield Trojans, and the rival Washington Demons.

 This season, Mid-Prairie is led by Junior Callie Huber with 205 points and 172 rebounds, Senior Nora Pennington’s 160 points and 51 assists, and Sophomore Jovi Evans’s 155 points. Defensively, Pennington leads the team in steals with 65. Junior Brylee Gearhart has a team-high 24 blocks.

As a team, Mid-Prairie averages 51 points-per-game while giving up 51. The Golden Hawks shoot close to 39 percent from the field, 27 percent from three, and 56 percent from the free throw line. Mid-Prairie is tied for fourth in Class 3A in both blocks and defensive rebounds.

 For the Blue Demons, they are led by Sophomore Lillian DeMoss’s 146 points. Junior Avery Halstead paces her team in rebounds with 69. On defense, DeMoss is a team leader in steals with 43. As a team, Albia scores almost 38 points-per-game and gives up 45, while shooting only 25 percent from the floor.

 Should Mid-Prairie advance, they will face the winner of Chariton (17-2) and Centerville (2-16). That second round game will take place on Wednesday, February 14th at 7:00 p.m. at Chariton High School.

Hillcrest Academy Preview

 The Hillcrest Academy Ravens have been locked into the Class 1A Region 8 bracket, and a familiar Southeast Iowa Super Conference foe is their opponent. 

The Ravens (6-14 overall, 3-13 in the SEISC North) will face the WACO Warriors (11-9 overall, 11-5 in the SEISC North) on Thursday, February 8th at 7:00 p.m. in Wayland. 

Other standout teams in the Region 8 bracket include Class 1A’s eighth-ranked Montezuma Bravettes, the SEISC South’s division leader, Holy Trinity Catholic, and the Lady Bears of English Valleys.

 This season, the Ravens are led by Sophomore Claire Withrow’s 286 points. Withrow is currently second in Class 1A in three-pointers made. Junior Delaney Shaw leads the team on the rebounding side with 175. Fellow Junior Malia Yoder has 51 assists, a team high. Defensively, Yoder leads the flock of Ravens with 69 steals.

As a team, Hillcrest scores 38 points-per-game and gives up 42. The Ravens shoot 28 percent from the field, 29 percent from beyond-the-arc, and almost 51 percent from the charity stripe.

 For WACO, they are led by Senior Emma Wagler’s 247 points and 224 rebounds. Of her 224 rebounds, Wagler’s 109 offensive rebounds are good for fourth best in Class 1A. Wagler is also a pest on the defensive side with a team-high 63 steals. The Warriors score 45 points-per-game while giving up 45. WACO shoots a shave under 32 percent from the field.

 The winner of the matchup will face the aforementioned Montezuma Bravettes (17-3) in a game that will be played on Tuesday, February 13th at 7:00 p.m. at Montezuma High School.

Highland Preview

 When the Highland Huskies (14-6 overall, 11-3 in the SEISC North) tip off their first regional game in Riverside, they will see the Knights of North Cedar (4-17 overall, 2-9 in the Tri-Rivers East) on the other side. 

The contest will take place on Thursday, February 8th at 7:00 p.m. Both teams were put in the Class 1A Region 7 bracket, and Highland’s side of the bracket features teams such as the Wapello Arrows, Springville Orioles, and the Prince of Peace Irish.

 Individually, Highland is led by Senior Sarah Burton with 323 points, and she recently crossed over the 1,000-point mark in her career. Burton also leads the team in rebounds with 285 and assists with 52. 

Burton’s 231 defensive rebounds top the charts in Class 1A, and her 285 total rebounds are good for third in 1A. On a stingy Jody Fink-coached defense, Burton is the team leader in steals with 76 and blocks with 52. Those 52 blocks tie her for third in 1A.

Teamwise, Highland averages 41 points-per-game and gives up 37. The Huskies shoot 32 percent from the field, 18 percent from three, and 51 percent from the free throw line. Highland leads Class 1A in defensive rebounds, are second in 1A in total rebounds, and are fifth in blocks.

 On the North Cedar side, Sophomore Addyson Lehrman leads her squad with 176 points. Senior Valerie Pruess is a team leader in rebounds and assists with 148 and 46, respectively. Pruess’s 51 blocks are fifth best in Class 1A. North Cedar averages 34 points-per-game and gives up 60. Thirty-one percent of shots from the floor have gone through the net for the Knights this season.

 North Cedar finds themselves in the top five in two statistical categories this season. As a team, the Knights are third in Class 1A in both blocks and defensive rebounds.

 The winner of the clash between the Huskies and Knights will take on the winner of Springville (14-6) and Prince of Peace (2-17) in a game to be played at Highland High School on Tuesday, February 13th at 7:00 p.m.

Lone Tree Preview

 Much like their rivals some 15 minutes west from Riverside, Lone Tree (18-3 overall, 14-2 in the SEISC North) has also been selected to play in the Class 1A Region 7 bracket. 

Unlike their rivals, they will be facing a common opponent in Winfield-Mount Union (4-14 overall, 2-13 in the SEISC North). The game will take place on Thursday, February 8th at 7:00 p.m. at Lone Tree High School. 

Teams like Iowa Valley and Lynnville-Sully also appear on the Lions’ side of the bracket.

 Boasting seven players with at least 100 points, the top of that list is where you will find Sophomore Finley Jacque at 324 points. Fellow Sophomore Alyson Ford tops the chart in rebounds with 157. Junior Vivian Zaruba and Jacque are tied for the team lead in assists at 64. Zaruba is a key piece on Head Coach Ryan Shelman’s defense with a team-high 95 steals.

As a team, Lone Tree notches 53 points-per-game and gives up 33. Shooting percentages have the Lions at 34 percent from the field, close to 23 percent from three, and 49 percent for free throws.

One reason why the Lions topped the SEISC North this season can be seen in two different statistical categories. As a team, Lone Tree leads Class 1A in steals, and are third in 1A in offensive rebounds.

 For a WMU team that made the state tournament last season, the current season has been quite the opposite for Head Coach Mendy McCreight. 

Sophomore Madisen Kellogg leads the pack of wolves with 300 points and 164 rebounds. Junior Pacey Schlee has a team-high 54 assists. Kellogg flashes her big defensive prowess for WMU, leading her team with 40 steals. As a team, the Wolves average 33 points-per-game while opponents score 49. They shoot 28 percent from the floor.

 The winner of this playoff-edition SEISC matchup will move on to face the winner of Danville (16-4) and Burlington Notre Dame (9-10) on Tuesday, February 13th at Lone Tree High School. Tipoff is slated for 7:00 p.m.

 *Note: Statistics were found using Varsity Bound and were last updated Feb. 4.