Your Prep Sports
No. 3 West Branch (20-1) vs. No. 8 Grundy Center (19-3)
West Branch returns to the state tournament for the second consecutive season seeking its first ever state tournament win.
The Bears are 0-3 all-time at the state tournament after falling to Osage 50-43 in the Class 2A quarterfinals last season.
West Branch enters the state tournament red-hot, riding a 17-game winning streak that features three wins over top-10 teams.
With four players averaging double figures West Branch is one of the most balanced offensive teams in the 2A field.
Senior Sasha Koenig leads West Branch with 20.9 points per game, which ranks seventh in 2A, while Delaynie Luneckas (11.8), Rylan Druecker (10.6) and Taya Young (10.1) all average better than 10 points per game.
Grundy Center is back at the state tournament for the third time in four seasons following a one-year break and posted back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2018 and 2019.
The Spartans have won 14 of their last 15 games with the lone loss during that stretch coming to 1A state qualifier Montezuma and secured their spot at state with a win over ninth-ranked Denver in the regional final.
Lainy Thoren is one of two players in the 2A field averaging a double-double on the season as the 5-foot-11 junior leads the Spartans with 14.4 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Junior Bailey Reding is the only other Spartan averaging in double figures at 14 points per game while junior Paiton Wallis adds 9.1 points and 2.8 assists per game.
No. 1 Maquoketa Valley (23-0) vs. Rock Valley (16-9)
Top-ranked Maquoketa Valley is making its first state tournament appearance since 2013 and has been impressive along the way outscoring opponents by an average of better than 25 points per game.
The Wildcats own perhaps the best regular season resume of any 2A qualifier with a pair of wins over fifth-ranked North Linn and two double-digit victories over 1A qualifier Springville.
Maquoketa Valley is led by one of the best senior trios in 2A in guards Ella Imler and Emerson Whittenbaugh and forward Taya Tucker.
A third-team all-state pick last season, Imler leads the team in scoring at 14.4 points per game while Tucker averages 13.3 points and 7.2 rebounds and Whittenbaugh adds 12.9 points and 7.3 rebounds.
Rock Valley returns to the state tournament for the first time since winning three consecutive titles from 2001 to 2003.
The Cinderella of the 2A postseason the Rockets ripped off four consecutive postseason wins, avenging a regular season loss to No. 11 Sibley-Ocheyedan in the quarterfinals before a 10-point win over Pocahontas Area in the semis and an 18-point victory over Emmetsburg in the regional final.
Rock Valley faced a challenging regular season schedule that included a pair of losses to seventh-ranked Central Lyon and three combined loss to 3A semifinalists West Lyon and Unity Christian.
The Rockets have offensive firepower in the form 6-foot 1,000-point career scorers Abby Heemstra and Lexie VanKekerix.
Heemstra averages 16.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per game while VanKekerix adds 16.4 points and 7 rebounds per contest.
No. 4 Nodaway Valley (23-0) vs. No. 5 North Linn (21-2)
Perhaps the most intriguing of the Class 2A quarterfinals is a matchup of state tournament regular North Linn and newcomer Nodaway Valley.
Defending 2A champion North Linn has been among the top small school programs in the state over the last decade.
The Lynx are making their third consecutive state tournament trip and sixth in the past eight seasons reaching the semifinals three times and the title game twice during that span.
North Linn has won 20 or more games each of the last 11 seasons and returns to state despite graduating four starters from last year’s title game.
Kamryn Kurt leads the Lynx in scoring at 13 points per game while the lone returning starter from last year’s 2A title game senior Ellie Ware averages 12.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
Nodaway Valley is the lone first-time qualifier in the 2A field and has already enjoyed the best season in program history setting a school record with 23 wins.
The Wolverines feature the top scorer in the 2A field in junior guard Maddax DeVault who leads three double-digit scorers with 24 points per game.
Senior Lexi Shike is the program’s career rebounding leader and averages 10.5 points and 12.8 boards per game while freshman Lindsey Davis adds 13.7 points per game and is a 38 percent 3-point shooter.
No. 2 Dike New-Hartford (23-0) vs. No. 10 Treynor (20-4)
Dike-New Hartford returns to the state tournament for the fourth consecutive season after reaching the Class 3A semifinals a year ago and have done so impressive fashion.
The Wolverines completed the first unbeaten regular season in program history and won three regional games by an average of nearly 37 points punctuated by a 42-point win over No. 14 West Hancock in the regional final.
The top defensive team in 2A allowing just 25.7 points per game, Dike-New Hartford isn’t short on offensive weapons.
Freshman Payton Petersen averages a team-high 14.1 points per game while sophomore Ellary Knock is averaging 11 per game and senior Paula Gonzalez adds 8.7 per contest.
Dike-New Hartford hasn’t allowed more than 40 points in a game this season and has held opponents under 30 points 15 times in 23 games.
Treynor is no state tournament stranger after reaching the semifinals three straight seasons from 2017 to 2019 appearing in two title games during that stretch and winning a title in 2019.
Treynor was a combined 97-6 over a four-season stretch from 2015-2016 to 2018-2019 before a rare 8-14 record a year ago but has bounced back this season returning to state with a 40-38 win over No. 15 Underwood in the regional title game.
Sophomore Clara Teigland leads Treynor with 13.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game while senior Mandy Stogdill averages 10.8 points and 2.1 assists.
WEST BRANCH: Sasha Koenig, 5-5, Sr., Bradley recruit is a four-year starter and returning first-team all-state pick that ranks seventh in 2A in scoring (20.9) and fifth in assists (5.4).
GRUNDY CENTER: Lainy Thoren, 5-11, Jr., One of the most versatile players in 2A Thoren averages a team-high 14.4 points, 10 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.3 blocks per game.
MAQUOKETA VALLEY: Taya Tucker, 5-9, Sr., Part of a double-digit scoring senior trio for the Wildcats, Tucker averages 13.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.7 steals and 2.6 assists per game.
ROCK VALLEY: Abby Heemstra, 6-0, Sr., One of two 6-footers in the Rockets front court Heemstra averages a team-high 16.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.
NODAWAY VALLEY: Maddax DeVault, 5-6, Jr., Ranks second in Class 2A in scoring at 24.1 points per game and also averages 5.2 rebounds, 4 steals and 1.8 assists per game.
NORTH LINN: Kamryn Kurt, 5-6, Fr., Freshman guard leads the Lynx in scoring (13.5) and assists (5.7) and steals (3) and is shooting 41 percent from 3-point range.
DIKE-NEW HARTFORD: Payton Petersen, 5-10, Fr., An immediate impact piece in the center of the Wolverine lineup the freshman center leads Dike-New Hartford in scoring (14.1) and rebounding (8.3) and is shooting 65 percent from the floor.
TREYNOR: Clara Teigland, 5-8, Soph., The top scorer for the Cardinals Teigland also has team highs in rebounds (5.1), steals (3.1) and blocked shots and averages 2.2 assists per game.
Good luck picking the champion, or even a favorite from a balanced yet loaded field that features the top five ranked teams all with two losses or fewer.
Three of the top four seeds are unbeaten with top-ranked Maquoketa Valley, second-ranked Dike-New Hartford and fourth-ranked Nodaway Valley all 23-0.
Throw in third-ranked West Branch (20-1) and defending champion North Linn (21-2) and you have a doozy of a bracket.
Maquoketa Valley earns the tag of favorite based on its unblemished record, number one ranking and its two regular season wins over North Linn are the best victories for any 2A qualifier.
Rock Valley has already pulled off an impressive postseason run as the only state qualifier to rattle off four consecutive regional wins.
The Rockets avenged regular season losses in each of its first two regional wins, a 47-40 opening-round win over Boyden-Hull and a 54-53 quarterfinal victory over Sibley-Ocheyedan.
Rock Valley then downed Pocahontas Area by 10 in the regional semifinals and knocked off Emmetsburg 40-22 in the regional title game.
The Rockets have enough offensive firepower to keep their postseason run going at state.
It may be a little misleading to identify the preseason top-ranked team as a tournament darkhorse but as the third-seed and with three unbeaten teams in the 2A field it feels like the Bears are flying a bit under the radar.
West Branch has everything you look for in a state title contender including past tournament experience, an elite playmaker in senior point guard Sasha Koenig, experience with four senior starters, and a big-time post presence in 6-foot-2 junior Delaynie Lueckas.
It isn’t real exciting or overly impressive analysis but with a field this deep and balanced the biggest focus is perhaps simply who can emerge 3-0.
There are cases to be made for as many as four or five teams as title contenders in this class and playing the tournament four or five could result in a different champion each time.
Matchups from game to game could play a key role along with regular basketball situations like foul trouble or hot or cold shooting.
This is as open as a field as there has been in Class 2A in several seasons and it should produce one of the more memorable tournaments in recent years.
Five Fast Facts
* – West Branch is the lone 2A qualifier with four double-digit scorers as Sasha Koenig (20.9), Delaynie Luneckas (11.8), Rylan Druecker (10.6) and Taya Young (10.1) are all average at least 10 points per game.
* – The top two teams in Class 2A in points allowed this season are the top two seeds at the state tournament with Dike-New Hartford leading 2A allowing just 25.7 points per game and top-seeded Maquoketa Valley second giving up 27.9 per game.
* – First-time state qualifier Nodaway Valley is the top scoring team in Class 2A this season averaging 67.1 points per game and features the top individual scorer in the 2A field in junior Maddax DeVault who averages 24.1 per game.
* – West Branch senior point guard Sasha Koenig is the lone player in 2A (and one of only two players in the state along with Waterloo West sophomore Halli Poock) to average at least 20 points (20.9) and five assists (5.4) per game.
* – West Branch junior Delaynie Luneckas is the top shot blocker among 2A qualifiers, averaging 2.6 blocks per game which is one more block per game than any other player in the 2A field.
Maquoketa Valley (23-0) vs. Rock Valley (16-9), 7 p.m.
Nodaway Valley (23-0) vs. North Linn (21-2), 9 p.m.
Dike-New Hartford (23-0) vs. Treynor (20-4), 10 a.m.
West Branch (20-1) vs. Grundy Center (19-3), Noon
Maquoketa Valley/Rock Valley winner vs. Nodaway Valley/North Linn winner, 10 a.m.
Dike-New Hartford/Treynor winner vs. West Branch/Grundy Center winner, Noon
Semifinal winners, 4 p.m.