5A state basketball title heads East for the first time

Iowa City West upset top-seeded Iowa City High in the championship game 56-45 to avenge two regular seasons loses and take home its first 5A title. The Trojans set the tone for that upset win in the quarterfinals when they downed West Des Moines Dowling in overtime. Dowling had what appeared to be a game-winning breakaway layup with seconds remaining on the clock when Iowa City West’s Lauran Zacharias came out of nowhere to block the shot and send it to overtime.

On the other side of the bracket, Iowa City High cruised to a 78-62 win over defending champion West Des Moines to advance. Indianola made a move to get in on the upset story with the 7th seeded Indians downed number-two seed Cedar Falls 64-63. Iowa City West kept ended Indianola's attempt to take over the story of the underdog ending by knocking them out in the semifinals 58-45. Johnston made a good run at City High in the other semifinal, but fell 58-52, ensuring the big trophy was heading east for the first time.

Iowa City High took a 9-8 lead after the first quarter, but West’s then outscored them in each of the three remaining quarters to get the win and the state title.

Ashley Joens had 26 points for City High in the championship game but was the only player in double figures as they shot just 29.5% from the field. West had three players in double figures, led by Zacharias with 15. Logan Cook had 14 and Cailyn Morgan 10 as they shot 50% from the floor.

The top 5 scoring leaders in 5A looked like this:

Ashley Joens, City High, 86 points (3 games)
Cailyn Morgan, IC West,44 points (3 games)
Grace Berg, Indianola, 42 points (2 games)
Maggie McGraw, Indianola, 41 points (2 games)
Rachael Saunders, IC West, 34 (3 games); Lauren Zacharias, IC West 34points (3 games); Maya McDermott 34 points (2 games)

Girls Tournament Preview – Wednesday

The smallest schools in the 2018 Girl’s High School State Basketball Tournament take to the floor Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines following the final two 2A semifinals. The Central Iowa Sports Network will carry all games live online at www.CISN.TV for free.

The 1A teams have had to wait a couple of days for their tourney action this year after a change in the schedule that flipped the tournament order to have the largest classes play first. It means two more days for Springville to wait to start its attempt at a third-straight state title. The Orioles return four players who have been starters on the previous two championship teams. They are the top seed with a 21-3 record.

Exira-EHK joins Springville as the only other returning team, as Class 1A has the newest teams in the tournament field compared to 2017. The Spartans are making their fourth straight trip to Des Moines and made it to the semifinals last year.

The new teams in the tourney are Algona Bishop Garrigan, AGWSR, Newell-Fonda, Kee, Central Decatur and Montezuma. Newell-Fonda and Central Decatur are the only undefeated teams in the 1A tournament, with both sporting 24-0 records.

Here’s the Class 1A schedule and seeding:

#1 Springville (21-3) vs. #8 Algona Bishop Garrigan 1:30 p.m.
#4 Exira-EHK (23-1) vs. #5 AGWSR (21-2) 3:15 p.m.
#3 Newell-Fonda (24-0) vs. #6 Kee (22-1) 5 p.m.
#2 Central Decatur (24-0) vs. #7 Montezuma (20-3) 6:45 PM

Girls Tournament Preview – Tuesday

The Class 3A quarterfinals get underway Tuesday action at the Iowa Girls’ State High School Basketball Tournament in Des Moines following the final 4A semi at 10 a.m. All the games will be broadcast live on the Central Iowa Sports Network at www.CISN.TV.

There will be a new champion in 3A with defending champ Pochahontas Area not in the field this year after graduating all-time state leading scorer Elle Ruffridge.

Three other teams which qualified for the 2017 3A tournament return, including runner-up Sioux Center. The Warriors are making their third straight trip to the tourney, and come in as the second seed with a 22-2 record. Crestwood is the top seed in the top seed with a perfect 23-0 record. They were knocked out in the first-round last year. South Tama, Davenport Assumption, Monticello, North Polk and Red Oak are the new faces in the 3A tourney this year.

Here’s the schedule and seeding for the 3A tournament:

#1 Crestwood (23-0) vs. #8 South Tama (15-9) 11:45 a.m.
#4 Davenport Assumption (16-8) vs. #5 North Polk (21-3) 1:30 p.m.
#3 Clear Lake (22-2) vs. #6 Monticello (19-5) 3:15 p.m.
#2 Sioux Center (22-2) vs. #7 Red Oak 921-2 5 p.m.

The Class 2A tournament rounds out the day on Tuesday with two quarterfinals and finishes up the quarterfinal round Wednesday with two more games. Three teams return from the 2017 tournament, but that does not include Western Christian, which took home the big trophy. Runner-up Treynor is back as the number one seed with a 22-1 record. Iowa City Regina and Cascade are the other returning teams in 2A. The new teams in the field for 2018 are West Sioux, Grundy Center, Dike-New Hartford, Panorama and North Union.

Here’s the rundown on the 2A tourney schedule and seeding:

#1 Treynor (22-1) vs. #8 West Sioux (21-3) 6:45 p.m. Tuesday
#4 Iowa City Regina (21-4) vs. #5 Grundy Center (22-1) 8:30 p.m. Tuesday
#3 Cascade (22-3) vs. #6 Dike-New Hartford (23-2) 10 a.m. Wednesday
#2 Panorama (23-1) vs. #7 North Union (20-2) 11:45 a.m. Wednesday

Girls Tournament Preview

The 2018 Girl’s High School State Basketball Tournament begins Monday (February 26th) at Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines.  The Central Iowa Sports Network will carry all the quarterfinal through semifinal games live online at www.CISN.TV for free.

The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union is flipping the script this year, starting the tournament with the teams from the largest schools in Class 5A. The past tournaments had started with the smallest schools in Class 1A and moved through 2A, 3A, 4A. This year the 1A schools will be the last to take the floor for their quarterfinals on Wednesday.

The 5A teams begin quarterfinal round action Monday at 10 a.m. If the 5A field looks familiar to you, you are not seeing things as the 8 teams which qualified last year are back once again. It is the first time there’s been an 8-team repeat at the tournament since the IGHSAU created the 5A class in 2013. (Would that be called and Octo-double-double?)

One of the biggest surprises to make the tourney field based on their record is defending champion West Des Moines Valley.  The Tigers made it in with a 13-10 record, after entering last year’s tourney at 21-2. They were able to overcome the loss of some key seniors and injuries to get a chance to defend the title.

The top seed in 5A is Iowa City High at 23-0. Iowa City came into last year’s tourney with just one loss but was knocked out in the quarterfinal round by Cedar Falls, which ended up finishing second to Valley.  The Little Hawks face the defending champs in the quarterfinal.

Here’s the rundown of the 5A tourney:
#4 Johnston (20-3) vs. #5 Waukee (19-4)   10 a.m.        
#1 Iowa City High (23-0) vs. #8 WDM Valley (13-10) 11:45 a.m.
#3 Dowling Catholic (20-3) vs. #6 Iowa City West (16-7)
#2 Cedar Falls (22-1) vs. #7 Indianola (20-3)

The opening round games in Class 4A fill out the Monday tournament schedule.  Half the teams that qualified last year are back again, but that does not include the 2017 champion, North Scott, so there won’t be a repeat.  Center Point-Urbana is new to the 4A tourney this year after making it to the semifinals in 3A last season.

Runner-up Marion comes in as the top seed with a perfect 23-0 record. They had just two seniors on the team that lost in overtime in last year’s title game.  They face Fairfield which is making its first trip to the state tournament in 28 seasons. Lewis Central is the only other teams in 4A with an unblemished record at 22-0.

The other teams which are new to the 4A field this year along with Fairfield and  Center Point-Urbana are Mason City and Le Mars.

Here’s the full 4A schedule:

#4 Center Point-Urbana (21-3 vs. #5 Boone (22-1) 5 p.m. Monday
#1 Marion (23-0) vs. #8 Fairfield (19-4) 6:45 p.m. Monday
#3 Grinnell (21-2) vs. #6 Mason City (14-9)  8:30 Monday
#2 Lewis Central (22-0) vs. #7 Le Mars (17-6) 10 a.m. Tuesday

All-State Basketball Teams Announced

Elle Ruffridge broke the tournament record in scoring. Photo by Hailey Sherman.

Elle Ruffridge broke the tournament record in scoring. Photo by Hailey Sherman.

The Iowa Girls Coaches Association (IGCA) has announced its 2017 All-State Basketball teams.

It’s no surprise to see Elle Ruffridge leading the Class 3A Team. The Pocahontas Area senior led the state in points, three-pointers and assists, and set a 5-player tournament record in points this year. Ruffridge scored 457 points during the season with a 58.4-percent field goal percentage and 53.4-percent made shots from beyond the arc. Even with an abundance of points, she led the league in assists with more than 200 throughout the season, including the state tournament. Ruffridge is committed to attend Missouri State next fall.

As in many other match ups, the Class 1A leaders Tori Hazard of Janesville and Shelby Reicks of Turkey Valley faced each other in the state tournament. Though Reicks’ 21 points helped Turkey Valley move on the round two, Hazard put up 34 points, adding to her 487 for the season. Both players led their teams in points and assists throughout the season, each scoring a double-triple.

Grace Berg helped the Indianola Indians to an undefeated season, going 23-0 prior to the tournament. Photo by David Mable.

Grace Berg helped the Indianola Indians to an undefeated season, going 23-0 prior to the tournament. Photo by David Mable.

In Class 2A Ashtyn Veerbeek scored more than 50 points in first- and second-round games at the state tournament, helping the Western Christian Wolfpack make it to the championship game, where they would face Konnor Sudmann and the Treynor Cardinals. The Cardinals held Veerbeek to only 5 points in the finals, while Sudmann put up 15, but the Wolfpack revenged last years one-point loss to win by two. Both Sudmann and Veerbeek were dominant in 2A play through out the season, Veerbeek leading all scorers with nearly 600 total points by tournaments end.

Though the Carlisle Wildcats were absent from the tournament, senior Agatha Beier led them to the playoffs, earning a spot on the All-State Team. Karli Rucker of Eldridge/North Scott led the Lady Lancers in points throughout the season while mentoring her sophomore sister, who followed close behind.

Named to the Class 5A All-State Team were Grace Berg of Indianola and Hannah Fuller of West Des Moines Valley. Though Valley found itself on the winning end of every game in the tournament, bringing the State Championship trophy home to West Des Moines for the first time in school history, Berg, a junior, led the Indians in scoring to hold the state No. 1 spot going into the tournament.

Teams can be downloaded by clicking here.

State Basketball Day Four – Record Setting

Elle Ruffridge was red hot scoring a tournament record 48 points in Pocahontas' semifinal game. Photo by David Mable.

Elle Ruffridge was red hot scoring a tournament record 48 points in Pocahontas’ semifinal game. Photo by David Mable.

After being held to 11 points in Pocahontas’ first round game, Elle Ruffridge was lit on fire in their semifinal game, and not like a quiet little candle on fire, but a flames-leaping-high-into-the-sky inferno kind of fire. Lobbing threes like they were lay-ups, the 5-foot, 4-inch senior hit eight of 12 from beyond the arc (state tournament record) and was perfect from the line (16/16) and was hot underneath to put up a new 5-player tournament record 48 points. That pushed Pocahontas past Center Point-Urbana in the final game of the evening, a 3A match-up, 80 to 59.

“We’re best friends on and off the court,” said Ruffridge of she and the group of senior starters. “That’s what makes us so special and such a good basketball team, because we gel so well.”

Pocahontas will face Sioux Center in the championship game on Saturday. The Warriors moved on with the hot hands of Erika Feenstra and Lexi Toering who combined for 41 points to push the Warriors past Cherokee 80-51.

Class 1A kicked off with a dominant performance by Springville’s Mikayla Nachazel who

Treynor's Konnor Sudmann lays it in after her steal to put the Cardinals up to win the game. Photo by David Mable.

Treynor’s Konnor Sudmann lays it in after her steal to put the Cardinals up to win the game. Photo by David Mable.

put up 32 points shooting 68-percent from the field and going 6 for 7 at the line. Springville moves on to the championship game (Friday, March 4 at 4:00 p.m. on IPTV) defeating Kingsley-Pierson 61-43.

We just came out with a lot of energy,” said Nachazel. “We knew we had to be aggressive in this game and had really good ball movement.”

In Class 2A Western Christian’s Ashtyn Veerbeek dominated on offense, from both beyond the arc and in the paint, going 11 of 19 inside and 8 for 10 outside the 3-point line. Her size also helped on the boards, as she pulled 10 back for the Wolfpack. For Iowa City Regina, Alex Weise led the scoring with 14. Final score: Western

Christian 71, Regina 49.

Western Christian will be facing Treynor in the finals (Friday, March 3 at 8:00 p.m. on IPTV) after closing a double-digit deficit against Lisa Tucker and the Cascade Cougars, winning in the final minute with a steal and lay-up by Treynor’s Konnor Sudmann.

“I saw her hold the ball up on her shoulder,” said Sudmann of her steal and bucket. “I thought ‘I see my chance,’ and I just tipped it out of her hand really fast and I just took off and got the lay-up to go.”

Treynor moves on after a strong defensive stand for the final 30 seconds, final score: Treynor 43, Cascade 41.

Interviews and photos are posted on the Central Iowa Sports Network Facebook page.

Iowa Public Television will be airing and streaming all the championship games beginning Friday, March 4 at 6:00 p.m.

IGHSAU Basketball Championships, Day two recap

Karli Rucker of North Scott drives through the Nevada defense helping her team move to the second round. Photo by David Mable

Karli Rucker of North Scott drives through the Nevada defense helping her team move to the second round. Photo by David Mable

Another eventful day of the 2017 Iowa Girls’ State Basketball Tournament. Cascade kicked off day two with a victory of 59-56 over Central Decatur in the final seconds by Cascade’s Abbie Ruggeberg’s shot to win the game.

Sioux Center swept PCM off the bracket with their huge victory of 71-27. We spoke with Lexi Toering, #31 of the Sioux Center Warriors, who shared that their defense was a big factor of their victory today.

“It was a dog fight the whole game,” Payton Slaughter of the Cherokee Braves told us in her interview after their win over Crestwood with a score of 70-61.

Davenport Assumption vs Center Point-Urbana kept their fans on their toes with a final score of 50-56, with the win going to Center Point-Urbana.

With an ending score of 46-22, Pocahontas Area doubled their opponents score by the end of the game, giving Clear Lake a tough loss.

Finishing up day two was North Scott vs Nevada with a score of 57-27, giving North Scott the final win of the day.

“The key to our game was to lock out the big girl,” said North Scott’s Karli Rucker after the game. “Hopefully they get a miss and we get the rebound and get a quick outlet, get a fast break up the floor. We were burying some shots and it was just going our way.”

Another eventful day in the books at the 2017 Girls’ State Basketball Tournament. Join us on CISN.tv for all the games live and log onto our Facebook page for coach and player interviews, photos and more.

Day one done at the Girls State Basketball Tournament

Madison Goodwin of the Kingsley-Pierson Panthers goes up for a shot against Marquette Catholic's McKenna Michels. Photo by Hailey Sherman.

Madison Goodwin of the Kingsley-Pierson Panthers goes up for a shot against Marquette Catholic’s McKenna Michels. Photo by Hailey Sherman.

Class 1A
An exciting first day at Wells Fargo Arena kicked off the 2017 Iowa Girls’ State Basketball Tournament. Springfield set the stage with a 56-16 victory over Burlington Notre Dame early this morning.
Kingsley-Pierson defeated Marquette Catholic 65-61 in a close matchup. The next game was a tight, back and forth battle between Janesville and Turkey Valley.
“Survive and advance is the name of the game. We have to put down a way in our minds to try to fight as a team and win as a team,” stated Sadie Nymeyer from Turkey Valley.
Turkey Valley ended up on top, 60-58, to conclude 1A play for day one.

Class 2A
Number one in 2A, Iowa City Regina, faced Logan-Mangolia to start afternoon play. Iowa City Regina finished strong with a 67-54 win. Western Christian won a hard fought battle against North Linn, 58-48.
“I can’t remember the stats exactly, but somebody told me there was like 9 ties and 12 lead changes or something crazy like that. Back and forth, punch for punch,” Western Christian head coach, Justin Negen, expressed in his post-game interview.
In the final 2A matchup of the day, Van Meter faced Treynor. Treynor took home the victory with final score of 60-54. An action-packed first day is just a preview for what we will be experiencing throughout the rest of the tournament.

By Chloe Haverman and Sarah Westholm


Getting to Know You: Dowling Catholic Maroons


When you win a state title, you don’t rest on your laurels.

In the case of the Dowling Catholic Maroons, they don’t expect any opponent to “Step to the Rear” on their way to a second consecutive Class 5A title.

It’s business as usual once again for the Maroons…just the way Bob and Sharon Hanson prefers it. The legendary coaches welcome back 1st team All-Stater Audrey Faber and Becca Hittner (3rd team All-State) to the starting lineup. Marin Daniels also returns, including Kennedy Childers, who was sidelined for most of the year with an knee injury.

The Maroons will start the season off with a bang…against Class 4A defending champion Harlan on December 2nd. Then they’ll meet Iowa City High, who they defeated in the 5A semifinals, and Cedar Rapids Xavier, as part of a non-conference slate.

The Maroons are ranked #1 by the IGHSAU in their preseason Class 5A poll.

Dowling Catholic Maroons

2013-14 record (overall, conference): 23-3, 4-2

Class, Conference: 5A, CIC – Western Division

Head Coaches: Bob and Sharon Hanson, 42th season,  739-227

Assistant: Jerry Schartner

Retunring starters: Audrey Faber 1st Team All State—Becca Hittner  3rd Team All State–Kennedy Childers  Knee Injury last season played limited in state tournament.  Being recruited by 4 or 5 division I colleges.  Marin Daniels returning starter recruited by Iowa State Soccer.

Returning letterwinners: Amber Gierstorf, Jamie Pithan, Callie Andersen, Soph Maddie Andersen.

Players lost to graduation: Lucie Sarcone and Hayden Butler

Key games on schedule: Iowa City High, Harlan, Ankeny Centennial (2), Valley (2), Johnston (2), SE Polk, Mason City, Waukee, CR Xavier

Interesting storylines: Dowling has one of the toughest schedules in the state this season. The Hansons have won 6 state titles (1 with Des Moines East in 1979, and 5 with Dowling, including last season).

Team goals: Develop some very good young players to complement the talented returners.

Follow on social media: @dchsmaroons (Twitter)




Getting to Know You: Valley Tigers


Frank Sinatra once sung about having “High Hopes”. It was used as a campaign song for John F. Kennedy’s successful presidential campaign in 1960.

“Very high hopes” is what Joe Sigrist describes the upcoming season for his Valley Tigers’ girls basketball squad.

Coming off a record-setting 2013-14 year, the Tigers welcome back three returning starters (seniors Grace VanderWeide and Whitney Fuller, and sophomore Hannah Fuller) and three more letterwinners in Emily Smith, Courtney Carr and Lexi Merritt. VanderWeide is an excellent All-Stater who is unafraid of making the big plays in games that matter. Merritt, a junior guard, is regarded by Sigrist as a sharp shooter that can help stretch opponents’ defenses.

Valley will be looking for depth from their sophomore class to solidify their bench.

The Tigers are ranked 4th in the IGHSAU preseason Class 5A poll.


West Des Moines Valley Tigers

2013-14 Record (overall, conference): 22-2, 5-1

Class, Conference: 5A, CIC – Western Division

Head Coach:  Joe Sigrist, 4th season, 69-34 overall (36-9 in 2 yrs at Valley)

Assistant Coaches: Chris Larson, Kelli Morgan, and Molly McClelland

Returning players and positions: Grace VanderWeide (G), Hannah Fuller (G), Whitney Fuller (G, Lexi Merritt (G), Emily Smith, Courtney Carr

Newcomers: Mackenzie Ward, Casey Carr, Leah Lodermeier, Jadyn Loecke, Jamie Feldt

Players lost to graduation:  Madi Agey, Kasey Feldt, Taylor Steil

Key games on schedule:  Dowling (2), Johnston (2), Waukee, SE Polk, Ankeny Centennial, Iowa City West

Team Goals:  Repeat as CIC Conference Champs and win the 5A State Title

Interesting story lines:  VanderWeide committed to continue her playing career at Missouri State. She is the first Valley GBB player in sometime to play for a Division I school, according to Sigrist. Last season was Valley’s first trip to the state tournament since 2007 (10th appearance overall)

Follow on social media: @ValleyGirlsBB (Twitter)