Taking a Quick Look at the Class 4A State Girls Basketball Tournament
Your Prep Sports
The fields have been set and the brackets are out. All that is left is for the state tournament to be played.
State tournament action gets underway on Monday beginning with Class 5A quarterfinals and runs through Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Before the action gets rolling Your Prep Sports will take a quick look at all three classes featuring qualifiers from the area.
Here is a quick look at Class 4A that has quarterfinals set for Tuesday.
No. 7 Clear Creek Amana (18-4) vs. No. 2 North Polk (21-2)
Clear Creek Amana returns to the state tournament for the second time in the past four seasons seeking the first state tournament win in program history.
The Clippers fell to eventual champion North Scott 63-43 in its first state tournament appearance in 2020 and returned to state with a 61-46 win over the tenth-ranked Lancers in the regional title game.
Clear Creek Amana has won six in a row since back-to-back losses to 3A state qualifier Benton Community and Center Point-Urbana to close January and allowed just 32 points per game during those six wins.
Offensively the Clippers have been balanced with three players averaging in double figures but are led by one of the best post duos in 4A in juniors Ava Locklear and Bliss Beck.
Locklear is averaging a double-double with 13.7 points and 10.2 rebounds while the 6-foot-2 Beck is averaging 10.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
Freshman Averie Lower is averaging 11.3 points per game while shooting 41 percent from 3-point range.
North Polk enters the state tournament perhaps the hottest team in Class 4A, winners of 16 in a row after a 45-26 win over Bondurant-Farrar in the regional title game.
The Comets haven’t lost since a December 17 setback to Class 5A Cedar Rapids Kennedy and have four wins over state qualifiers during its current 16-game winning streak.
North Polk is making its first state tournament appearance since 2020 when it finished as 3A runner-up for the second consecutive season.
Four players average at least 8.3 points per game for North Polk which ranks third as a team in 4A with 61.4 points per game.
Senior MaKayla Boatman leads the way with 17 points per game while sophomore Abby Tuttle averages 11.1 points and 5.5 assists per game.
Senior Liza Schaffer is averaging 10 points and 5.1 rebounds per game and senior Izzy McCool adds 8.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
6-foot-2 sophomore Becca Aagard ranks second in Class 4A averaging 3.2 blocked shots per game.
No. 1 Dallas Center-Grimes (20-3) vs. Glenwood (16-8)
A couple of multi-year returning state qualifiers meet in the quarterfinals in what is anything but a typical one versus eight seed matchup.
Top-ranked Dallas Center-Grimes is making its third consecutive state tournament appearance after falling in the semifinals to the eventual state champion each of the past two seasons.
In 2021 the Mustangs lost to Ballard in the semifinals and last year lost to champ Cedar Rapids Xavier in the final four.
Dallas Center-Grimes enters riding a nine-game winning streak with each of its previous two losses coming to ranked 5A teams in Johnston and Ankeny.
The Mustangs have been among the best defensive teams in 4A this season ranking second in points allowed with 37.2 points per game.
Dallas Center-Grimes hasn’t allowed more than 45 points to a non-5A opponent since a 56-48 loss to state qualifier Ballard in the season opener.
Senior Emma Miner leads the way offensively with 15.3 points per game while senior Finley Fitzgerald is averaging 11.1 points and 3.6 rebounds and junior Vanessa Bickford averages 8.8 points and 4.3 assists per game.
Glenwood is making its fourth consecutive state tournament appearance behind the play of standout senior Jenna Hopp.
Hopp had 30 points, 19 rebounds, eight assists, five blocked shots and four steals in a 65-45 regional final win over eighth-ranked Pella.
Glenwood has won its state tournament opener each of the past three seasons, finishing runner-The Rams are led by Hopp, a South Dakota State recruit that leads 4A in scoring (24.2) and steals (4.6) and ranks third in rebounding (12.5).
Senior Kate Hughes is averaging 9.7 points and 2.6 assists per game and junior Danika Arnold is averaging 8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.
No. 4 Ballard (18-3) vs. No. 5 Decorah (21-2)
Perhaps the most interesting 4A quarterfinal is a contrast in styles between a recent state tournament stalwart in 2022 3A runner-up Ballard and a Decorah team making its first appearance at state since 2007.
Ballard is making its fourth consecutive tournament appearance and has reached the title game the past two seasons winning the 4A title in 2021 before falling to Estherville-Lincoln Central in the 3A title game last season.
Two of the three losses this season for Ballard have come to 4A qualifier North Polk and the Bombers avenged their other regular season setback with a 58-41 win over Carlisle in the regional final.
Junior Alliyah Thompson is the only Ballard player averaging double figures, scoring a team-high 17 points per game though four other Bombers score between 6.2 and 7.4 points per game.
Seniors Paige Noe (7.4), Lily Hillebrand (7.1) and Lily Beall (6.2) and junior Kiley Calvert (6.8) all average better than six points a game.
A state qualifier seven of the last 10 years, Ballard is the top defensive team in Class 4A this season holding opponents to 36 points per game and has allowed more than 40 points just seven times in 21 games.
Conversely, Decorah returns to state for the first time in 16 seasons as the highest scoring team in Class 4A at 63.4 points per game.
The Vikings have won games by an average of 20.9 points per game this season, the second highest point differential in 4A and lead 4A with 7.3 made 3-pointers per game while shooting a 4A-best 37.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Decorah is led by perhaps the best backcourt in 4A in senior Dryar Duwe and junior Yazmeen Whitsitt who combine to average 37.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 5.2 steals per game.
Whitsitt is averaging 19.7 points per game and has made 74 3-pointers while shooting 40 percent from 3-point range.
Decorah defeated No. 13 Mason City 67-61 in the regional final and brings a 16-game winning streak into the state tournament.
No. 3 Sioux City Heelan (22-2) vs. No. 6 Cedar Rapids Xavier (16-7)
The final game in an exciting list of 4A quarterfinals may just be the best of the group.
A rematch of last year’s 4A title game will be the third meeting in the last calendar year between the two perennial powers.
Cedar Rapids Xavier defeated Sioux City Heelan 54-40 in the 4A championship game last season and added a 62-54 win over the Crusaders this season back on November 22.
The defending champion Saints are making their 15th state tournament appearance, all since 2000 and second in a row after escaping Western Dubuque 54-46 in the regional final.
All but one of the seven losses for Cedar Rapids Xavier this season have come to 5A opponents including five losses to ranked 5A foes.
Senior Kyla Mason leads Xavier with 17 points and 7 rebounds per game while sophomores Libby Fandel and Sydney Huber are averaging 16.2 points and 9.2 points respectively.
Defending 4A runner-up Sioux City Heelan returns to Wells Fargo Arena for the fourth time in the past five years and the second year in a row.
Since opening the season with consecutive losses to Xavier and 5A No. 15 Sioux City East the Crusaders have rattled off 22 consecutive wins in impressive fashion.
Sioux City Heelan ranks second in 4A in scoring at 63.3 points per game and has won games by a 4A-best 23 points per game.
The Crusaders advanced to state with a 42-22 win over No. 15 Spencer in the regional final.
Junior Brooklyn Stanley leads a list of five players averaging better than eight points per game with a team-high 14 points per contest.
Senior Jada Newberg is averaging 10.6 points, senior Kenley Meis averages 9 points, sophomore Abby Lee averages 8.9 and senior Lauryn Peck 8.2 points per game.
Clear Creek Amana: Ava Locklear, 5-11, Jr., – Among the most skilled post players in the state Locklear leads Clear Creek Amana with 13.7 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists 2 blocked shots and 1.8 steals per game.
Dallas Center-Grimes: Emma Miner, 6-0, Sr. – A University of St. Thomas recruit, Miner leads the Mustangs in scoring at 15.3 points per game and rebounding at 5.6 per game and averages 3 assists and 2.4 steals while shooting 53 percent from the floor.
Glenwood: Jenna Hopp, 5-11, Sr. – South Dakota State recruit averages a double-double, leading 4A in scoring at 24.2 points per game while averaging 12.6 rebounds and a 4A-best 4.6 steals per game.
Ballard: Alliyah Thompson, 6-1, Jr. – Thompson leads the Bombers in scoring (17 ppg), rebounds (6.9), blocks (2) and steals (3.1) while shooting 49 percent from the floor and 39 percent from 3-point range.
Decorah: Bryar Duwe, 5-6, Sr. – A Truman State signee, Duwe is averaging 17.9 points and leads the Vikings in assists (3.5) and steals (2.9) and ranks third on the team with 5.4 rebounds per game.
North Polk: MaKayla Boatman, 5-9, Sr. – The Colorado Christian recruit leads the Comets in scoring at 17 points per game to go with 2.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.5 steals per contest.
Sioux City Heelan: Brooklyn Stanley, 5-8, Jr. – A second-team all-state pick last season Stanley leads the Crusaders in scoring (14), assists (3.5) and steals (4) and ranks fourth on the team with 3.7 rebounds per game.
Cedar Rapids Xavier: Libby Fandel, 6-1, Soph. – The captain of the 4A all-tournament team last season as a freshman Fandel ranks second on the team in scoring at 16.2 points per game and leads the Saints in rebounds (7), assists (3.1) and steals (3).
A case could be made for more than half the teams in the field to hold the title of favorite.
In fact, at least four of the teams in the 4A bracket could make a strong case as the favorite.
Included in that list is defending champion Cedar Rapids Xavier and last year’s runner-up Sioux City Heelan which enters on a 22-game winning streak.
North Polk, which is the only 4A team to defeat Xavier this season, defending 3A runner-up Ballard and top-ranked Dallas Center-Grimes certainly can make a case as the pre-tournament favorite as well.
Based on seeding alone it is Dallas Center-Grimes that can carry the favorite nod, entering as the top seed.
A state semifinalist a year ago the Mustangs lost to Xavier 55-50 in the semifinals last season and have just one loss to 4A competition this season in the opener to Ballard.
The lone unranked team in the field and with a 4A tournament-high eight losses eighth-seeded Glenwood is the unquestioned underdog in the bracket.
However, the Rams are no ordinary underdog.
Glenwood is making its fourth consecutive state tournament trip, has a bona fide star in senior Jenna Hopp and enters playing its best basketball of the season over the last week.
The Rams returned to state with back-to-back regional wins over ranked opponents defeated No. 12 Council Bluffs Lewis Central 49-45 in the semifinals and rolling past eighth-ranked Pella 65-45 in the regional final.
It is easy to overlook Clear Creek Amana in a deep 4A field that features the defending champion, two defending state runner ups, a top-ranked returning state semifinalist and two other 21-win teams.
Overlook the Clippers at your own risk.
Clear Creek Amana has won six straight following a 15-point win over No. 10 North Scott in the regional championship.
The Clippers have three wins over 3A state qualifiers Solon and Vinton-Shellsburg all by double figures.
Can Cedar Rapids Xavier repeat?
In the 10 years since the IGHSAU went to five classes there have been two repeat champions in Class 4A.
Harlan won back-to-back 4A titles in 2014 and 2015 and North Scott won consecutive crowns in 2019.
Can Xavier become the third repeat champion in 4A? It will take an impressive effort from the Saints who open with a championship game rematch with Sioux City Heelan and would face second-seed North Polk or Clear Creek Amana in the semifinals with an opening-round win.
- Jenna Hopp, Sr., Glenwood – 24.2 ppg
- Yazmeen Whitsitt, Jr., Decorah – 19.7 ppg
- Bryar Duwe, Sr., Decorah – 17.9 ppg
- Alliyah Thompson, Jr., Ballard – 17 ppg
- Kyla Mason, Sr., Cedar Rapids Xavier – 17 ppg
- Jenna Hopp, Sr., Glenwood – 12.5 rpg
- Ava Locklear, Jr., Clear Creek Amana – 10.2 rpg
- Haley Grossman, Sr., Decorah – 7.3 rpg
- Libby Fandel, Soph., Cedar Rapids Xavier – 7 rpg
- Kyla Mason, Sr., Cedar Rapids Xavier – 7 rpg
- Abby Tuttle, Soph., North Polk – 5.5 apg
- Vanessa Bickford, Jr., Dallas Center-Grimes – 4.3 apg
- Paige Noe, Sr., Ballard – 3.9 apg
- Bryar Duwe, Sr., Decorah – 3.5 apg
- Brooklyn Stanley, Jr., Sioux City Heelan – 3.5 apg
Five Fast Facts
*– Clear Creek Amana junior Bliss Beck leads 4A in field goal percentage shooting 66 percent from the field this season (97-of-147).
*– The top six teams in Class 4A in field goal percentage this season are all in the 4A field in Cedar Rapids Xavier (46.1%), Clear Creek Amana (45.8), Decorah (44.6), Dallas Center-Grimes (43.9), Sioux City Heelan (43.8) and North Polk (43).
*– Glenwood senior Jenna Hopp is tops among 4A state qualifiers in points (24.2), rebounds (12.5), steals (4.6), field goals made (8.2) and free throws made (6.5).
*– Clear Creek Amana has had one game decided by single digits, a 74-70 loss to Center Point-Urbana. All 18 wins for the Clippers have been by at least 10 points.
*– Decorah guards Yazmeen Whitsitt and Bryar Duwe combined for 36.4 points per game accounting for 59 percent of the Vikings scoring this season.
Last 5 Champions
2022 – Cedar Rapids Xavier
2021 – Ballard
2020 – North Scott
2019 – North Scott
2018 – Marion
Last Year’s Qualifiers
Dallas Center-Grimes; Benton Community; Cedar Rapids Xavier; Central DeWitt; Glenwood; Bondurant-Farrar; Sioux City Heelan; Waverly-Shell Rock
Dallas Center-Grimes (20-3) vs. Glenwood (16-8), 11:45 a.m.
Ballard (18-3) vs. Decorah (21-2), 1:30 p.m.
North Polk (21-2) vs. Clear Creek Amana (18-4), 3:15 p.m.
Sioux City Heelan (22-2) vs. Cedar Rapids Xavier (16-7), 5 p.m.
Dallas Center-Grimes/Glenwood winner vs. Ballard/Decorah winner, 5 p.m.
North Polk/Clear Creek Amana winner vs. Sioux City Heelan/Cedar Rapids Xavier winner, 6:45 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 2:30 p.m.
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