Regina senior Sarah LehmanBy Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – One step at a time. That’s how Regina is chasing a state title.
After a state tournament appearance in 2015 the Regals reached the 2A semifinals last year.
The next step for Regina is a big one and the Regals believe they are in position to take that step this season.
“We want to win state,” Regina junior Greyson Dumont said. “We want to improve every single practice and every single game and if we do that I think we can take the next step and reach that goal.”
The pieces appear in place for Regina to make the jump to the top of Class 2A.
Three starters including the top two scorers return from last year’s team that won 25 straight games to open the season before a loss to Unity Christian in the state semifinals.
First team all-stater Mary Crompton is back after averaging a team-high 16.3 points per game last season.
Senior Sarah Lehman (10.4 points) returns in the front court alongside sophomore Tipton transfer Alex Wiese who averaged 15.4 points and 12.7 rebounds per game last season.
“Just like we have in the past we want to keep making steps in the right direction this year,” Crompton said. “I think if we stick to our fundamentals and don’t let the target that is on our back get to our head and just play each game within ourselves, then I think eventually we can reach our goals.”
Dumont, junior Lauren Gaarde and sophomore Kennedy Wallace all return in the back court for Regina which opens the season atop the Class 2A rankings.
If the Regals are to win the first state title in program history the Regals will have to endure everyone’s best shot.
A year after playing in the shadow of finalists Unity Christian and Western Christian for most of the season the Regals have already been saddled with the favorite tag.
That distinction hasn’t put a damper on the expectations.
“We have a target on our back but we do well with that,” Lehman said. “We are used to that.”
The Regals have the returning talent to make a state title run but there is one noticeable change from last year.
Jeff Wallace takes over for Matt Bolger as head coach after Bolger led Regina to the state tournament in each of his two seasons leading the Regals.
Wallace is in his second stint at Regina after winning 120 games in six seasons from 2000 to 2006.
“I’ve know a lot of these kids since they were little kids because my daughter is on the team so they all know me and that’s been good,” Wallace said. “It’s just learning new wrinkles. We are keeping a lot of the same things that coach Bolger had offensive but different defense concepts and we want to play faster because we have more depth.”
One thing that this Regina team has that the previous two squads have not possessed is postseason experience.
All three returning starters have won two regional finals and played in three state tournament games the past two seasons.
Walking into Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines is no longer an eye-opening experience for the Regals.
“These girls are winners, they have been through this before,” Wallace said. “Most of them have been in two state tournaments so they know what to expect and they know what it takes.”
Talented, deep and experienced the Regals are also motivated following last year’s semifinal loss.
Regina was held scoreless for more than seven minutes to open the game, falling into an 8-2 hole and never fully recovered in a 53-45 semifinal loss to eventual champion Unity Christian last year.
That loss still fuels the Regals.
“It is just making us work harder,” Lehman said. “It’s been motivation for sure.”