Your Prep Sports
The 2023 state tournament is almost here.
Action gets underway on Monday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines with quarterfinals in Class 5A and 3A.
Before the first games get underway Your Prep Sports takes a look at all of the classes featuring qualifiers from the area.
We start with Class 3A where Solon is making its first trip to the state tournament in 17 seasons.
No. 2 Solon (22-2) vs. No. 8 Dubuque Wahlert (18-6)
Solon is back at the state tournament for the first time since 2006 seeking its first state tournament win since winning the 2A state title in 1998.
The Spartans bring an eight-game winning streak into the state tournament after a 58-44 win over No. 11 Mount Vernon in the regional final, its third win over the Mustangs in 2023.
Both losses for Solon came to 4A state qualifiers in Clear Creek Amana and North Polk and the Spartans have four wins over state qualifiers including wins over 3A qualifiers Vinton-Shellsburg and Benton Community.
Junior point guard Callie Levin leads the way for Solon averaging 18.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.8 steals per game.
Levin has had plenty of help this season with three other Spartans averaging at least 6.8 points per game.
Junior Hailey Miller is averaging 10.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game while sophomore Kobi Lietz is averaging 8.5 points and 3 assists per game while shooting 36 percent from 3-point range.
Junior Mia Stahle averages 6.8 points and junior forward Anna Quillin adds 5.3 points and a team-high 5.9 rebounds per game.
The Spartans are shooting 69 percent from the free throw line as a team, second best in Class 3A this season, and are led by Levin who is a 76 percent free throw shooter.
Dubuque Wahlert is making its second state tournament appearance in the past two seasons and is seeking its first win at state since 2004.
The Golden Eagles have lost in the quarterfinals in each of their previous four trips to the state tournament, most recently in 2021.
Dubuque Wahlert is battle tested with five of its six losses coming to ranked Class 5A or 4A competition.
The Golden Eagles have won five in a row, a stretch that includes a win over 5A eighth-ranked Cedar Falls and a 57-35 win over 3A ninth-ranked Osage in the regional final.
Dubuque Wahlert is led by the duo of senior Emma Donovan and sophomore Claire Lueken.
Lueken leads the Golden Eagles in scoring (13.5), assists (3.7) and steals (2.3) while Donovan is averaging 12.3 points and a team-high 9.8 rebounds per game.
Dubuque Wahlert ranks fourth in 3A in 3-point shooting at 34 percent and is led by junior Maria Freed and Lueken who have made 51 and 50 3-pointers respectively while shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc.
Freed averages 9 points per game while freshman Ruth Tauber is averaging 7.2 points per game.
No. 1 Estherville-Lincoln Central (24-0) vs. No. 10 Vinton-Shellsburg (17-7)
A matchup of a recent state tournament regular and a relative newcomer pits defending champion Estherville-Lincoln Central and Vinton-Shellsburg which is making its first trip to state since 1999.
The lone unbeaten team in the 3A field, Estherville-Lincoln Central has won 38 games dating back to last season.
The Midgets have been impressive all season leading 3A in scoring at 65.1 points per game and ranking third in points allowed at 33.5.
Estherville-Lincoln Central has won games by an average of 31.6 points per game, the highest in 3A and have had just two games all season decided by single digits.
Sophomore guard Haylee Stokes is among the most productive players in the state and leads Estherville-Lincoln Central in scoring (21), assists (5.9) and steals (5.1).
Senior Jordyn Stokes averages 14.6 points and 3.2 rebounds per game while sophomores Rylee Yager (9.4 points, 6.1 rebounds) and Hillary Ruschy (8.7 points, 3 rebounds) average better than 8 points and 3 rebounds per game.
Vinton-Shellsburg is making its first trip to the state tournament since 1999 and is seeking its first win at state since 1996.
The Vikings enter the state tournament with a seven-game winning streak that includes a 52-43 win over sixth-ranked Grinnell in the regional title game.
Six of the seven losses for the Vikings came to state qualifiers including three to 3A state tournament teams Benton Community and Solon.
The lone loss for Vinton-Shellsburg that wasn’t to a state qualifier was to 4A Waverly-Shell Rock.
A group of four players that average over 6.8 points per game is led by senior Alyssa Griffith who leads the Vikings with 12.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
Senior Abby Davis averages 10.9 points while Julia Johnson adds 8.3 points per game.
No. 4 Benton Community (21-3) vs. No. 5 Des Moines Christian (21-3)
Perhaps the most intriguing matchup of the 3A quarterfinals comes between a pair of 21-3 teams that have both been regulars at the state tournament over the last decade plus.
Benton Community is making its fifth trip to state since 2011 and second straight appearance after falling to Dallas Center-Grimes in the 4A quarterfinals last season.
The Bobcats have won 12 of their last 13 games and avenged their only loss during that stretch with a 53-44 win over West Liberty in the regional title game.
Benton Community has five wins over state qualifiers this season posting a pair of wins over 4A qualifier Clear Creek Amana and 3A qualifier Vinton-Shellsburg.
Senior guard Jenna Twedt ranks fifth in 3A in scoring at 20.3 points per game and also leads the Bobcats with 3.5 assists, 2.4 steals and 1.1 blocked shots per game.
Juniors McKenna Kramer (9.5), Emma Townsley (9.2) and Piper Nelson (6.5) all average better than six points per game for Benton Community.
Des Moines Christian is making its fifth state tournament appearance since 2014 seeking its first win at state since 2019.
The Lions enter state tournament action playing as well as any team in 3A having won 17 of their last 18 games and 10 straight after a 64-38 win over Harlan in the regional title game.
Three players average better than 12 points per game for Des Moines Christian led by junior Abby Hall at 12.7 points per game.
Senior Maren Miller averages 12 points and nine rebounds per game while senior Kaitlyn Mumm averages 12.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.3 blocked shots per contest.
No. 3 West Marshall (23-1) vs. No. 7 Sioux Center (18-5)
The lone class 3A quarterfinal to be played on Tuesday sets up as an interesting contrast in styles.
Sioux Center is one of the highest scoring teams in 3A, ranking fourth in scoring at 60.7 points per game while West Marshall is among the best defensive teams ranking second in 3A allowing just 32.7 points per game.
West Marshall has won 15 straight games since its only loss of the season at South Hamilton on December 20 and secured its first state tournament trip since 2019 with a 45-38 win over No. 13 Clear Lake in the regional final.
The Trojans are led by one of the best and most versatile players in the state in 6-foot-2 senior guard Katie Reyerson.
Reyerson ranks sixth in 3A in scoring with 19.2 points per game on 59 percent shooting, ranks second in 3A in rebounding with 12.2 per game and leads 3A in both assists (6.8) and blocked shots (3.6) per game to go with 3 steals.
Sophomore Bella Borgos averages 17 points and 3.1 rebounds per game and senior Keatan Pfantz adds 9.5 points per game.
Sioux Center is making its first state tournament appearance since 2018 when it finished runner-up in Class 4A for the second consecutive season.
The Warriors defeated No. 12 Unity Christian 72-62 in the regional final to secure a state tournament spot.
Four of the five losses for Sioux Center came to Class 2A state qualifiers Sibley-Ocheyedan and Central Lyon with the other loss to 3A No. 15 West Lyon.
Senior Willow Bleeker is the only Sioux Center player that averages in double figures, scoring 12.2 points per game but five other Warriors average 6.6 or more points and 3 rebounds per game.
Margo Schuiteman averages 8.6 and senior Tatum Schmalbeck adds 8 points per game.
Solon: Callie Levin, 5-9, Jr. – An Iowa commit, Levin is among the best all-around players in the state averaging 18.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.8 steals per game.
Estherville-Lincoln Central: Haylee Stokes, 5-6, Soph. – The captain of the 3A all-tournament team last season as a freshman Stokes ranks fourth in 3A in scoring (21), third in assists (5.9) and leads 3A with 5.1 steals per game.
Vinton-Shellsburg: Alyssa Griffith, 5-11, Sr. – A third-team all-state pick last season, Griffith leads the Vikings in scoring at 12.1 points per game and averages 6.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.3 blocked shots per game.
Benton Community: Jenna Twedt, 5-9, Sr. – A returning first-team all-stater, Twedt ranks fifth in 3A in scoring at 20.3 points per game to go with 3.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
Des Moines Christian: Maren Miller, 6-0, Sr. – One of three Lions averaging 12 or more points per game Miller averages 12 points, a team-high 9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
Dubuque Wahlert: Emma Donovan, 6-0, Sr. – A versatile athlete, Donovan is averaging 12.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 49 percent from the field.
West Marshall: Katy Reyerson, 6-2, Sr. – A Northern Iowa recruit, Reyerson is the only player in the state to average at least 19 points (19.2), 12 rebounds (12.2) and 6 assists (6.8) per game.
Sioux Center: Willow Bleeker, 5-8, Sr. – The leading scorer for the Warriors at 12.2 points per game, Bleeker is one of the best shooters in 3A shooting 47 percent from 3-point range (46-of-98).
Estherville-Lincoln Central checks every box on the favorite checklist.
The defending state champion, riding a long winning streak, coming off a dominant regular season and with one of the best players in the class.
Estherville-Lincoln Central defeated Ballard 44-30 in the 3A title game last March, has won 38 games in a row dating back to last season, outscored opponents by a 3A-best 31.6 points per game this season and is led by sophomore standout Haylee Stokes who ranks in the top 5 in 3A in points per game (21), assists (5.9) and steals (5.1)
Tenth-ranked Vinton-Shellsburg enters as the eight seed with a 3A tournament-high seven losses which makes the Vikings the underdog in the 3A field.
Not much about this team feels like an underdog.
Vinton-Shellsburg has won seven in a row including a nine-point victory over sixth-ranked Grinnell in the regional final.
The Vikings have a large task waiting in the quarterfinals in the form of top-ranked Estherville-Lincoln Central but after playing six regular season games against state qualifying teams shouldn’t be intimidated even making their first state tournament appearance since 1999.
Benton Community fits this role almost perfectly.
With most of the talk entering the state tournament on top-seed Estherville-Lincoln Central or second-ranked Solon the Bobcats enter under the radar.
Benton Community has state tournament experience after reaching the 4A tournament a year ago, has a strong backcourt and a bona fide star in Jenna Twedt.
As it showed with a pair of double-digit wins over 4A qualifier Clear Creek Amana this is a Benton Community team capable of beating anyone when it plays up to its potential.
Will Estherville-Lincoln Central defend its title?
There hasn’t been a back-to-back 3A champion since Pocahontas Area won consecutive titles in 2016 and 2017.
Defending champion Estherville-Lincoln Central has been 3A favorite since December and enters that state tournament unbeaten and largely unchallenged this season.
There is a long list of challengers ready to knock off the defending champs starting with seconded-seeded Solon which is unbeaten against in-class competition this season.
- Haylee Stokes, Soph., Estherville-Lincoln Central – 21 ppg
- Jenna Twedt, Sr., Benton Community – 20.3 ppg
- Katy Reyerson, Sr. West Marshall – 19.2 ppg
- Callie Levin, Jr. Solon – 18.5 ppg
- Bella Borgos, Soph., West Marshall – 17 ppg
- Katy Reyerson, Sr. West Marshall – 12.2 rpg
- Emma Donovan, Sr., Dubuque Wahlert – 9.8 rpg
- Maren Miller, Sr., Des Moines Christian – 9 rpg
- Brylee Bruce, Sr., Vinton-Shellsburg – 7.2 rpg
- Lily Zahnd, Soph., West Marshall – 6.9 rpg
- Katy Reyerson, Sr. West Marshall – 6.8 apg
- Haylee Stokes, Soph., Estherville-Lincoln Central – 5.9 apg
- Nora King, Sr., Dubuque Wahlert – 4.4 apg
- Callie Levin, Jr. Solon – 4.3 apg
- Claire Lueken, Soph., Dubuque Wahlert – 3.7 apg
Five Fast Facts
*– Solon junior Anna Quillin ranks second in Class 3A in field goal percentage shooting 61 percent from the floor.
*– Sioux Center senior Willow Bleeker ranks second in 3A in 3-point percentage shooting 47 percent (46-of-98) from beyond the arc.
*– Defending 3A state champion Estherville-Lincoln Central is the lone team from the 2022 3A state tournament in the 2023 Class 3A field.
*– Estherville-Lincoln Central has a state-best 38-game winning streak dating back to January of 2022.
*– West Marshall senior Katy Reyerson is the only player in the state to lead a class in both assists (6.8) and blocked shots (3.6) per game.
Last 5 Champions
2022 – Estherville-Lincoln Central
2021 – Unity Christian
2020 – Sioux City Heelan
2019 – Center Point-Urbana
2018 – Crestwood
Last Year’s Qualifiers
Unity Christian; Davenport Assumption; Estherville-Lincoln Central; Sergeant Bluff-Luton; West Lyon; Roland-Story; Ballard; Center Point-Urbana
Estherville Lincoln Central (24-0) vs. Vinton-Shellsburg (17-7), 5 p.m.
Benton Community (21-3) vs. Des Moines Christian (21-3), 6:45 p.m.
Solon (22-2) vs. Dubuque Wahlert (18-6), 8:30 p.m.
West Marshall (23-1) vs. Sioux Center (18-5), 10 a.m.
Estherville Lincoln Central/Vinton-Shellsburg winner vs. Benton Community/Des Moines Christian winner, 1:30 p.m.
Solon/Dubuque Wahlert winner vs. West Marshall/Sioux Center winner, 3:15 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 8 p.m.