What to Watch at the Girls State Tournament
By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
With two days left in February its time for the madness of March.
The nearly non-stop two weeks of state tournament basketball in Iowa begin on Monday as the girls state tournament opens at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
40 teams in five classes will via for titles at the girls state tournament that concludes with the 5A title game on Saturday evening.
Here are five things to keep an eye on as the tournaments unfold in Des Moines.
Iowa City Excellence
By geographical sense Des Moines serves as a solid central location in Iowa to hold the state basketball tournament.
In terms of on-court success, it has Iowa City that has been at the center of the prep girls basketball in Iowa this season.
For the first time in history all three Iowa City schools advanced to the state tournament in the same season and all three are legitimate title contenders, ranked in the top four in their respective classes.
The three Iowa City High schools have combined for an impressive 67-4 record this season and are 65-2 this season when not playing each other.
Regina is top-ranked in Class 1A at 25-0 while West High (20-3) is ranked third in Class 5A and City High (22-1) is ranked fourth in 5A.
West High was the last Iowa City school to win a state title, claiming the 4A crown in 2012.
The last state title for City High came in 2008 and Regina is seeking its first ever trip to the state title game.
By the time the Class 5A state title game concludes on Saturday night more history could be made for Iowa City hoops.
Watch Her While You Can
This week is the final chance for basketball fans to see the all-time scoring leader in state history.
Pocahontas Area senior Elle Ruffridge holds that title after breaking the all-time scoring record of 2,756 set by Deb Remmerde of Rock Valley in 2003.
Ruffridge broke the record in the final game of the regular season and enters state tournament play with 2,870 career points.
The 5-foot-4 dynamo is averaging a state-best 30.4 points per game this season to help Pocahontas Area lead the state in scoring at 80.2 points per game.
If it fits into your schedule watching Ruffridge and her Pocahontas Area team is well worth the time.
It’s been five years since a team outside of the CIML won a state title.
That team was West High in 2012 and the Women of Troy are among four teams that come to Des Moines this week attempting to end the CIML stranglehold on Class 5A.
Since the tournament went to five classes in 2013 only CIML teams have appeared in the 5A championship game.
During that stretch six different programs have made a championship game appearance with a different team winning the title each year.
Half of this year’s Class 5A field comes from the CIML but there are plenty of teams capable of breaking the conferences grasp on the title game.
That list includes top-ranked and unbeaten Indianola (23-0), City High (22-1) and West High (20-3).
The Mississippi Valley Conference is guaranteed a semifinalist with Cedar Falls (21-2) and City High meeting in a Wednesday quarterfinal.
The CIML with have a team in the semis as well as West Des Moines Valley and West Des Moines Dowling meet in another quarterfinal.
The two other CIML quarterfinals featured CIML vs. non-CIML teams.
West High faces No. 6 Waukee (18-4) and Indianola faces No. 8 Johnston (19-4).
Who Rules in 2A?
With defending two-time champion Unity Christian falling in the regional tournament the 2A crown is officially up for grabs.
The question is now, who grabs it?
Half of the unbeaten teams at the state tournament are in a Class 2A field that features six teams with two or fewer losses.
Top-ranked Regina is among the title contenders along with second-ranked Treynor (25-0) and third-ranked Central Decatur (24-0).
Western Christian won three consecutive titles before Unity Christian claimed the last two and lost to the Knights in the state title game last year.
Last season there was one repeat champion as Unity Christian claimed its second consecutive Class 2A title.
This season two teams return to the state title with hopes of repeating.
Pocahontas Area is back to defend its Class 3A title while Springville will attempt to repeat in Class 1A.
Both teams had runner-up finishes in 2015 before winning state titles last year.
Three new champions will be crowned as defending champions Ankeny Centennial (5A), Mason City (4A) and Unity Christian (2A) all failed to reach the state tournament.