Breaking Down the Class 5A State Tournament
By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
No. 1 Indianola (23-0) vs. No. 8 Johnston (19-4)
Something has to give as one of the top scoring teams in Class 5A meets one of the best defensive teams in the class.
Johnston enters the state tournament second in 5A in scoring at 68.3 points per game and is shooting a 5A-best 49.9 percent from the field on the season.
Indianola is allowing the second fewest points in 5A this season and is tops in points allowed in the 5A tournament field, giving up 39 per game.
Neither team is a stranger to the big stage as both are making their third straight state tournament appearance.
The difference has been in the success at state.
Indianola is seeking its first state tournament win since 1992 while Johnston is coming off a 5A runner-up finish last season.
The Indians are the lone unbeaten team in 5A and have been impressive along the way, winning games by an average of 27.9 points per game.
All four losses for Johnston have come to state tournament teams including a 70-64 setback to Indianola on December 13.
No. 4 City High (22-1) vs. No. 5 Cedar Falls (21-2)
One of two regular season rematches between conference rivals in the 5A quarters, Cedar Falls and City High will meet for the fourth time in the past two seasons.
City High has been the Tigers kryptonite over the past two seasons.
Cedar Falls is 43-5 since the start of last season with three of those losses coming to City High by a combined total of 38 points.
That includes a 62-40 loss to the Little Hawks in the only meeting this season back on December 9.
The only other losses for Cedar Falls in that span are a state semifinal loss to champion Ankeny Centennial last year and a 57-47 setback to top-ranked Indianola in its regular season finale earlier this month.
City High knocked off defending 5A champ Ankeny Centennial in the regional final last week to return to the state tournament for the first time since 2014.
The Little Hawks have won eight straight games entering the state tournament and are averaging 74.9 points per game during that stretch.
No. 2 West Des Moines Valley (21-2) vs. No. 7 West Des Moines Dowling (19-4)
The most anticipated of any quarterfinal this week, this one has all the makings of a classic.
Two long-time rivals meet in a rematch of a regular season contest won by Valley 76-72 back on January 10.
Valley enters the state tournament riding a 14-game winning streak and playing as well as any team in Class 5A.
The top scoring team in 5A this season at 69.1 points per game the Tigers rely on a balanced offensive attack that has six players averaging between six and 14.3 points per game.
Dowling lost two of its final four games to close the regular season by a combined total of four points but rebounded to return to the state tournament for the fourth time in five years after missing out last season.
The Maroons led Class 5A in assists this season with 374 assists on 543 made field goals.
No. 3 West High (20-3) vs. No. 6 Waukee (18-4)
Two state tournament regulars meet in Des Moines for the first time since the 2012 semifinals.
Both programs have been fixtures at state over recent years.
West High has missed just two state tournaments since its first trip in 2011 and Waukee has appeared in nine of the last 10 state tournaments failing to qualify only in 2013.
The four loss for Waukee came to two teams, two each to second-ranked West Des Moines Valley and No. 9 Ankeny Centennial.
All three of the losses for West High came to state tournament teams in City High, Cedar Falls and Valley.
West High brings a six-game winning streak to state after knocking off Southeast Polk 60-54 in the regional final.
Waukee was 2-0 against the Rams this season with wins by eight and 16 points.
CITY HIGH: Ashley Joens, 5-11, Jr. Ranked the 16th best junior in the country by ESPN, the Iowa State recruit is one of three 5A players to average a double-double on the season ranking second in 5A in both scoring (21.1) and rebounding (10.3).
WEST HIGH: Logan Cook, 6-1, Jr. It’s been a breakthrough season for the junior who leads West High in scoring (15 ppg), rebounds (6.2) and is tied for the team lead in steals (1.8).
INDIANOLA: Grace Berg, 6-0, Jr. Missouri recruit shot 65 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free throw line while leading unbeaten Indians in scoring (20.1) and rebounding (10.3).
CEDAR FALLS: Kiana Barney, 6-1, Jr. Northern Iowa recruit leads the Tigers in scoring at 13.1 points per game and also averages 4.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per contest.
WEST DES MOINES DOWLING: Caitlin Clark, 5-11, Fr. A member of ESPN’s 40-player freshman watch list the first-year point guard leads Dowling in scoring (15.5), assists (4.7), steals (2.3) and blocks.
WAUKEE: Carlie Littlefield, 5-9, Sr. One of the most versatile players in the field, the Princeton recruit is one of only two players in Iowa with 400 points (19.5 ppg), 150 rebounds (7.4 rpg) and 100 assists (4.7 apg).
JOHNSTON: Taryn Knuth, 6-4, Sr. Among the most dominant players in the state, the Florida State volleyball signee led 5A in scoring (22.8), rebounding (13.7) and blocks (3.8).
WEST DES MOINES VALLEY: Hannah Fuller, 5-8, Sr. Drake recruit is the motor for the second-ranked Tigers averaging 13.6 points and a team-high 6.2 rebounds.
Three of the four quarterfinals are regular season rematches, two of which match conference opponents against one another.
If you go by the regular season meetings in those three rematches City High, Indianola and West Des Moines Valley would advance to the semifinals.
The state tournament is a whole new season where anything can happen.
With City High defeating Ankeny Centennial in the regional finals the largest class is guaranteed not to have a repeat champion for the 11th consecutive season.
Good luck picking the winner in a 5A field that is as balanced as any in recent memory.
Indianola enters as the lone remaining unbeaten, has regular season wins over Johnston and Cedar Falls and a pair of division 1 standouts in Missouri recruit Grace Berg and Iowa State commit Maggie McGraw.
Call the Indians the favorite if you want but all eight teams have legitimate title chances
including both City High and West High.
Since the state tournament went to five classes all four of the 5A title tilts have been all Central Iowa Metro League affairs.
Is this the year a team from outside the CIML advances to the title game?
That is the hope for Mississippi Valley Conference squads City High, West High and Cedar Falls that all enter the state tournament ranked in the top four.
The last team from outside the CIML to win a big class title was West High in 2012.
Five Fast Facts
* – City High junior Ashley Joens has attempted 601 free throws over the past three seasons, the most of any player in the state during that span. Joens has made 430 good for 72 percent and is 137-of-184 from the line this season.
* – The 83 blocked shots for 6-foot-4 Johnston senior Taryn Knuth matches or exceeds the team total for five of the teams in the Class 5A field.
* – Indianola junior Grace Berg and Waukee senior Carlie Littlefield are the only players in the 5A tournament to lead their teams in scoring, rebounding, steals and assists. Berg averages 20.1 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.7 steals per game while Littlefield averages 19.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 3.8 steals.
* – City High and West High each faced their quarterfinal opponents one previous time at the state tournament and each went on to win state titles that season. In the only state tournament meeting between Waukee and West High the Women of Troy won 64-50 in the 2012 semifinals en route to the 4A title and City High defeated Cedar Falls 52-40 in the 2008 quarterfinals its way to the 4A state title.
* – The last five state tournament games for West High have all come against members of the Central Iowa Metro League and the Women of Troy are 3-2 in those contests.
Indianola (23-0) vs. Johnston (19-4), 1:30 p.m.
City High (22-1) vs. Cedar Falls (21-2), 3:15 p.m.
West Des Moines Valley (21-2) vs. West Des Moines Dowling (19-4), 5 p.m.
West High (20-3) vs. Waukee (18-4), 6:45 p.m.
Indianola/Johnston winner vs. City High/Cedar Falls winner, 1:30 p.m.
West Des Moines Valley/West Des Moines Dowling winner vs. West High/Waukee winner, 3:15 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 8 p.m.