By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
The state tournament field is set.
While the 40 state qualifiers prepare to chase a championship the rest of the teams across the state begin to look toward next season.
Before attention turns to either the busy week that the state tournament brings or the thought of next season, let’s take a minute to appreciate the top moments and performers from the regular season and regional play.
Best individual performance: Mary Crompton against Cascade. Setting a school-record for points in a game is enough to give Crompton the nod but it’s how she scored her career-high 39 and the team it came against that makes it most impressive.
Crompton made 12-of-14 field goal attempts, including 10-of-11 from 3-point range and made all five three throws in a 78-57 win over an eighth-ranked Cascade team that annual ranks among the best defensive teams in Class 2A. Cascade has allowed less than 39 points in 15 of 24 games this season.
Best team performance: City High against Cedar Falls. The two teams shared the MVC Valley Division title with identical 12-1 records but City High got the best of the Tigers in the only regular season meeting between the two teams, winning 62-40 in Iowa City. The December win over the Tigers was one of the most complete victories of the season for City High which had four players with at least nine points and outscored Cedar Falls 34-11 in the second half of the 22-point win. The two teams will meet again next week in the Class 5A quarterfinals.
Best performance from a duo: Tatum Koenig and Haley Mullinnix against Tipton. The West Branch backcourt teammates combined for 60 points in an 81-46 win over the Tigers. Mullinnix finished with 33 points, one shy of the single-game school-record and Koenig added 27 points. The duo combined to make 22-of-36 field goal attempts.
Comeback player of the year: Alex Wiese. The Regina sophomore center hasn’t shown any ill effects of the knee injury that ended her freshman season. The 6-foot Wiese is averaging 15.3 points and a team-high 9.1 rebounds per game while helping Regina to a 25-0 record.
Coach of the year: You could make a pretty strong case for each of the six area coaches for this honor. City High’s Bill McTaggart and West High’s BJ Mayer both directed their teams to MVC Divisional titles and state tournament berths while earning conference coach of the year honors. West Branch and Solon both had successful seasons after losing significant contributors from last season and PJ Sweeney directed Clear Creek Amana to its first postseason win in nearly two decades. The nod goes to Regina’s Jeff Wallace for directing Regina to a 25-0 record in his first season back at the helm.
Biggest surprise: City High’s young guards were expected to make an immediate impact this season so it’s not a surprise that Aubrey Joens and Rose Nkumu have contributed. How good those two freshmen have played has been a pleasant surprise for the Little Hawks. Combined Nkumu and Aubrey Joens are averaging 20.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 4.7 steals per game for City High (22-1).
Best game: City High at West High. What else would you expect between two cross-town rivals and two of the top teams in the state than an overtime thriller that came down to the final shot? City High held on for a 74-73 overtime win over West High in the first meeting of the season between the two top-five ranked opponents. West High had a chance to win late by Cailyn Morgan’s jumper was just off the mark.
Breakthrough performer: Tatum Koenig is already a 1,000-point scorer and all-conference performer but the West Branch guard took her game to another level this season as a junior. Koenig averaged a career-high 20 points per game this season and led West Branch in rebounds (5.9 per game), assists (3.3) and steals 4.3).
Clutch performance of the season: West High sophomore forward Emma Koch posted a pair of performances worthy of the award. Koch went 4-of-5 from 3-point range and scored a team-high 16 points in a 63-58 win over City High in January and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds in a regional final win over Southeast Polk on Tuesday.
Unsung hero: In this case its unsung heroes as Clear Creek Amana seniors Claire Navara and Lauren Helle get the nod. The stats for the two seniors don’t jump off the page, they averaged a combined 12.5 points per game but they both played key roles and provided crucial leadership as the Clippers won 13 games for the second time in the last three easons.
Defensive player of the year: No one was better this season at forcing turnovers than Solon’s Josie Durr. The senior guard led the state with 164 steals, an average of nearly 7.5 per game and had five games with double digit steals.
Newcomer of the year: Clear Creek Amana freshman Karsyn Stratton. Another spot with plenty of worthy candidates but Stratton gets the nod after leading the Clippers with 16 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. The 5-foot-8 Stratton shot 57 percent from the field and led the Clippers with 35 steals.
Bench player of the year: You could pick any number of West High players for this one but the list starts with sophomore Cailyn Morgan who averages nearly six points and better than two assists per game off the bench for the Women of Troy.
Most valuable player: City High junior Ashley Joens. It’s been another impressive season for Joens who ranks second in Class 5A in both scoring (21.1) and rebounding (10.3). The Iowa State recruit has had her most efficient season of her career, shooting better than 50 percent from the field and 75 from the free throw line.