By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – For the second time this season West High came up just shy of a marquee win against a highly ranked 5A opponent on Saturday falling to sixth-ranked West Des Moines Valley.
The Women of Troy don’t have to wait long for another shot at a big-time victory.
Saturday’s matchup with perennial CIML power West Des Moines Valley began a six-day stretch in which West High will play half of teams in the top six of the latest Class 5A rankings.
West High (13-2) heads across town to face second-ranked City High (14-0) on Tuesday before a road trip to No. 5 Cedar Falls (12-1) on Friday.
The combined record of the three teams during West High’s murders row – a staggering 41-3.
“We look forward to it, we look at it as a way to challenge ourselves before the tournament because there are no easy games there,” West High junior guard Rachael Saunders said. “We really enjoy getting to play the best teams because they are always close games and they are much better for our confidence for us going forward.”
West High’s season resume isn’t devoid of big wins.
The Women of Troy have beaten five ranked teams, including Class 4A top-ranked Pella, and have decisive wins over 5A No. 15 Linn-Mar and No. 14 Bettendorf.
However, West High’s first two games against top-six teams have resulted in a pair of losses by a combined seven points.
Now West High wants a couple of statements wins against top-five foes.
“We knew this stretch was going to be tough,” West High coach BJ Mayer said. “We are in a stretch where yeah we want to keep competing but now we need to get one or two of these and hopefully it can start on Tuesday night.”
Next up in the three-game gauntlet is a rematch with City High.
The Little Hawks won a 74-73 overtime thriller at West High in the first meeting in December.
Waiting on Friday is a Cedar Falls team that has won nine straight and defeated West High 64-60 in Iowa City last season.
West High isn’t going to shy away from the challenge of facing three of the state’s best in less than a week.
“This part of the season is going to be so much fun,” West High junior Logan Cook said. “It is really going to test our strength and we are going to see how great we can be.”
Career Night: West Branch senior Haley Mullinnix turned in a performance to remember on Tuesday against Tipton and just missed a game for the record books.
Mullinnix poured in a career-high 33 points, one shy of the single game school record of 34 held by Kelley Trimble, in an 81-46 win over the Tigers.
Mullinnix made 11-of-19 field goals, including 5-of-8 3-pointers, and connected on all six of her free throw attempts on her way to 33 points.
Still Unbeaten: The list of undefeated teams in the state is down to 12 and City High and Regina are still on that list.
Regina (15-0) has won 37 consecutive regular season games, the longest streak in the state, it’s last regular season loss coming at West Branch on Feb. 6 of 2015.
The Regals join North Linn, Treynor and Central Decatur as the lone remaining unbeaten teams in Class 2A.
City High (14-0) and top-ranked Indianola are the only unbeaten teams left in Class 5A.
Closing in on 1,000: A pair of area juniors are closing in on 1,000 career points.
Regina’s Mary Crompton enters play this week with 987 career points and will get her first chance to crack the 1,000-point barrier on Tuesday at home against West Liberty.
West Branch junior Tatum Koenig needs just nine points to reach the 1,000-mark for her career.
Koenig scored 27 and 26 points in a pair of wins last week to give her 991 career points.
West Branch returns to action on Tuesday at Fairfield.
Postseason paths: Regional pairings for Classes 1A, 2A and 3A will be released by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union on January 23 while pairings for 4A and 5A will be released January 30.
Ratings update: City High (14-0) and West High (13-2) continued to hold the top two spots behind top-ranked Indianola in the Class 5A rankings released by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union on Thursday as the top six teams in 5A went unchanged.
Regina (15-0) remained number one in Class 2A while Pella (4A), Pocahontas Area (3A), and Springville (1A) all held onto the top spot in their respective classes.
Top performances: Solon senior Josie Durr had 15 points, eight steals and six rebounds in a 42-30 win over Central DeWitt.
Regina sophomore Alex Wiese had 25 points and nine rebounds in a 77-63 win over Mid-Prairie.
West High sophomore Emma Koch had 15 points and seven rebounds in a 69-45 win over Bettendorf.
City High junior Ashley Joens had 24 points and 15 rebounds in a 55-50 win over Cedar Rapids Jefferson.
West High junior Rachael Saunders had 21 points, four rebounds and five assists in a 77-71 loss to West Des Moines Valley.