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No. 1 Waukee (10-1) vs. No. 9 West Des Moines Dowling (11-6)
The first of three opening-round matchups between conference opponents is one of two quarterfinal rematches from the regular season.
Defending state runner-up Waukee won the regular season meeting between the two CIML rivals 75-50 on January 4 to snap a string of four straight losses to Dowling that dated back to 2018.
Top-ranked Waukee bring a seven-game winning streak to the state tournament a stretch that includes an 18-point win at Johnston on February 4 that avenged the only loss of the season for the Warriors.
Waukee is making its eighth consecutive state tournament appearance and is 2-5 in quarterfinals during that stretch but has reached the state title game both times it won its opener.
Dowling is back at the state tournament for the fourth time in five season and first since reaching the semifinals in 2019 following a 44-42 upset of eighth-ranked Cedar Rapids Washington in the regional final.
The Maroons are winless in six tries against 5A qualifiers this season with two losses each to second-ranked Johnston and No. 4 Southeast Polk.
Dowling has one of the best front court combinations in 5A in senior 6-foot-2 senior Lexi Boles and 5-foot-10 junior Emma Gipple who combine for 25.6 points and 15.2 rebounds per game.
No. 4 Southeast Polk (15-3) vs. No. 5 Ankeny Centennial (15-2)
One of two all-CIML quarterfinals is the first meeting of the season between a couple of the conference’s traditional powers.
Southeast Polk is making its third consecutive state tournament appearance and ninth in the past 11 seasons after falling to eventual state champion Johnston in the opening round last year.
The Rams are 3-2 this season against 5A state qualifiers with two wins over West Des Moines Dowling and one over West High.
Southeast Polk has won nine of its last 10 with the only setback during that stretch a three-point loss at top-ranked Waukee on February 12.
Senior Grace Larkins leads a trio of Rams scoring double figures with 18.2 points per game joining junior Brooke Woodyard (11 points) and sophomore Brooklin Dailey (10.5 points).
Ankeny Centennial is making the third state tournament appearance in the short history of the program winning a state title in 2016 and falling in the quarterfinals in its last trip in 2019.
The Jaguars rallied from a 22-7 first-quarter deficit to beat No. 11 Des Moines Roosevelt 44-42 in regional final and brings a five-game winning streak to Wells Fargo Arena.
Annually considered among the best defensive teams in the state Ankeny Centennial ranks second in Class 5A this season allowing just 34.2 points per game and has allowed more than 40 points in a game just seven times this season.
The Jaguars have four senior starters that all average more than 6 per game led by Maggie Phipps, the lone double-digit scorer at 18.3 per contest.
No. 2 Johnston (16-1) vs. No. 7 Cedar Falls (17-3)
The only cross-conference matchup in the Class 5A quarterfinals features heavyweights from the CIML and Mississippi Valley Conference that have each been state tournament regulars over the past decade.
Defending champion Johnston returned to the state tournament for the seventh consecutive season with an impressive 84-61 win over No. 14 Indianola while Cedar Falls survived against No. 10 West Des Moines Valley in overtime.
The quarterfinal meeting is a rematch of a regular season non-conference game from a year ago won by Cedar Falls 58-57 on November 30 2019 at Coe College in Cedar Rapids.
Johnston has had as much state tournament success as any 5A team the past several season reaching the semifinals in 2018 and 2019 before defeating Waukee in the title game last season.
The Dragons have won five in a row since their only loss of the year, a 58-40 setback to Waukee on February 4.
Cedar Falls is back at state for the second year in a row and sixth time in seven seasons after falling to Waterloo West 51-49 in the quarterfinals last season.
The Tigers have won seven in a row since a six-point loss to Waterloo West on January 22 and are seeking their first semifinal appearance since finishing runner-up in 2017.
Cedar Falls has five players averaging seven points per game or more but the key for the Tigers is senior Anaya Barney who has been perhaps the best player in 5A this season leading the class in scoring (24 points) and ranking third in rebounds (10.1) and blocked shots (2.8).
No. 3 Waterloo West (19-1) vs. No. 6 West High (13-3)
The second regular season rematch between conference foes in the 5A quarterfinals is a meeting of Mississippi Valley Conference Valley Division foes.
Waterloo West won the regular season meeting 67-63 back on January 8 in Waterloo and won the only meeting between the two teams last season 66-47.
You can throw all that out the window on Monday as the two MVC rivals meet at Wells Fargo Arena with a spot in the state semifinals on the line.
West High returned to the state tournament for the first time since winning the title in 2018 with a 69-54 win over No. 13 Davenport North in the regional final.
The Trojans have won 11 in a row since its loss to Waterloo West in January dropped West High to 2-3 on the season.
West High has been led all season by seniors Matayia Tellis and Audrey Koch.
Koch is among the best players in the state ranking fifth in 5A in scoring at 20.1 points per game to go with 6 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.
Tellis is averaging 11.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.4 steals per game and is shooting 43 percent from 3-point range.
Waterloo West is making its second consecutive state tournament trip after falling to Waukee in the 5A semifinals last season.
The Wahawks enter as the hottest team in 5A, riding an 18-game winning streak that includes a 65-51 win over No. 12 City High in the regional final.
Waterloo West has two of the top six scorers in 5A in sophomore Halli Poock and Sahara Williams.
Poock ranks fourth in 5A with 20.9 points per game and Williams is sixth in scoring at 19.8.
Four Wahawks are scoring at least nine points per game as senior Gabby Moore (9 points) and junior Brooklyn Smith (9.6 points) join Williams and Poock.
WEST HIGH: Audrey Koch, 5-10, Sr. – A Providence recruit, Koch ranks fourth in 5A in scoring at 20.1 points per game while shooting 59 percent from the field including 41 percent from 3-point range.
WATERLOO WEST: Halli Poock, 5-6, Soph. – A second team all-state selection last season as a freshman Poock ranks fourth in Class 5A in scoring (20.9) and tops in both assists (5.9) and steals (4.3).
CEDAR FALLS: Anaya Barney, 5-11, Sr., – The top scorer in Class 5A this season at 14 points per game Barney is an all-around talent. The Northern Iowa recruit averaged a double-double adding 10.1 rebounds per game and ranks third in 5A with 2.8 blocked shots per game.
JOHNSTON: Jada Gyamfi, 6-2, Jr., – Iowa commit was a third team all-state pick last season at Urbandale and is averaging 13.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in her first season with the Dragons.
ANKENY CENTENNIAL: Maggie Phipps, 5-11, Sr., – Drake recruit is the only double-digit scorer for the Jaguars averaging a team-high 18.3 points per game.
SOUTHEAST POLK: Grace Larkins, 5-11, Sr., – South Dakota recruit and returning first-team all-state selection leads the Rams in scoring (18.2), rebounds (6.3), assists (4.1) and steals (3.5).
WAUKEE: Katie Dinnebier, 5-8, Sr., – Among the best all-around players in the state the Drake recruit is a returning first-team all-state selection and averages 17.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 3.8 steals per game.
WEST DES MOINES DOWLING: Lexi Boles, 6-2., Sr. – An Illinois State recruit, Boles is among the most efficient scorers in 5A shooting 63 percent from the field and 77 percent from the line while averaging a team-high 14.2 points to go with 6.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocked shots per game.
Johnston edged Waukee 69-65 in the state title game last season and the two top-ranked teams appear to be headed for a winner-take-all rematch in the 5A title game this season after splitting two regular season games.
The teams took turns winning on the others’ home floor this season. Johnston won 51-45 at Waukee in January and Waukee won by 18 at Johnston on February 4.
Settling on who is the favorite if the teams should meet a third time is tough but entering play on Monday these two have put themselves ahead of the pack.
In a field this good there isn’t a team that has the feel of a true underdog but keep an eye on Cedar Falls which gets the unenviable task of taking on defending champ Johnston in its opener.
The Tigers have experience (three starters back from 2020 state tournament team), scoring punch (five players over 7 points per game), momentum (seven-game winning streak) and one of the best players in the field in senior guard Anaya Barney.
As the number six seed West High likely isn’t high on most radars entering the state tournament but history says watch out for the Trojans.
West High has won three consecutive state tournament openers and is 5-1 all-time in state quarterfinal contests.
On top of that West High has reached the title game in half of its previous six trips to state winning titles in 2012 and 2018.
West High has a reputation for peaking in the postseason and the Trojans enter the state tournament riding an 11-game winning streak in a season that feels a lot like 2018 when West High made its latest title run that seemed improbable entering the tournament.
Is this another all-CIML Class 5A final? The annual focus leading up to the 5A tournament has become how many CIML teams will qualify and as the tournament opens will there be another Central Iowa Metro League champ.
That will continue to be the focus as long as the CIML keeps pumping out qualifiers and crowning 5A champs.
Johnston gave the CIML seven of the last eight 5A champions with its title last season and six of the last eight championship games have been all-CIML affairs.
The good news for the rest of the state is that two of the last three non-CIML squads to make a 5A final (Cedar Falls and West High) are in the field representing the Mississippi Valley Conference and the eastern half of the state this week along with Waterloo West.
Five Fast Facts
* – West High senior Audrey Koch was among the most efficient offensive players in the state this season shooting 59.1 percent from the floor. Koch was one of only four players in the state and the only player in 5A to average 20 points per game on 55 percent shooting or better.
* – Cedar Falls senior guard Anaya Barney is the only player in the state this season to average more than 20 points (24), 10 rebounds (10.1), 3 assists (3.4) and 2.5 blocks (2.8) per game.
* – Class 5A is one of only two state tournament brackets this week, along with Class 4A, without an unbeaten team.
* – Top-ranked Waukee is the highest scoring team in Class 5A this season averaging 69.5 points per game.
* – Six of the teams in the 5A field (West High, Southeast Polk, West Des Moines Dowling, Waukee, Ankeny Centennial and Johnson) have won state titles in the past eight seasons.
Waukee (10-1) vs. West Des Moines Dowling (11-6), 9 a.m. –
Southeast Polk (15-3) vs. Ankeny Centennial (15-2), 11 a.m.
Johnston (16-1) vs. Cedar Falls (17-3), 1 p.m.
Waterloo West (19-1) vs. West High (13-3), 3 p.m.
Waukee/West Des Moines Dowling winner vs. Southeast Polk/Ankeny Centennial winner, 10 a.m.
Johnston/Cedar Falls winner vs. Waterloo West/West High winner, Noon
Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.