Your Prep Sports
The girls basketball season officially opened last week with teams across the state opening practice.
Game begin this week with a pair of Your Prep Sports area teams opening the season with road games on Friday.
As the season starts the goal for every team is the same, to secure a spot at the 2024 state tournament which is scheduled to run from February 26 to March 2nd at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Before the season really gets rolling we take a look at 10 players to watch in the Your Prep Sports area this winter.
Senior, Clear Creek Amana
Locklear continued to build a resume as one of the top post players in the state last season when she followed up a breakthrough sophomore season with an impressive junior campaign.
The 5-foot-11 Locklear led Clear Creek Amana in both scoring and rebounding for a second consecutive season last winter and showed off her impressive all-around game as a junior leading the Clippers in assists, steals and blocked shots.
The big season from Locklear helped Clear Creek Amana to an 18-5 record and the second state tournament appearance in program history.
Locklear averaged a double-double as a junior, posting 13.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game to go with 3.3 assists, 2 blocked shots and 1.7 steals per game on her way to earning second-team Class 4A all-state honors.
A Saginaw Valley State signee, Locklear was one of only two players in the state last season to averaging at least 10 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocked shots per game.
Locklear shot 48 percent from the floor and 65 percent from the free throw line last season leading Clear Creek Amana in free throw attempts and made free throws.
One of the top players in the state Levin enters her final prep seasons seeking to close an incredible career on a high note.
Levin is already one of the most decorated players in Solon history.
A three-time WAMAC East Division player of the year and two-time first-team Class 3A all-state pick, Levin is chasing some team hardware in her senior season.
Levin led Solon to its first state tournament since 2006 last season where the Spartans fell in the Semifinals.
With four starters from that team returning led by the versatile Levin the Spartans have state title hopes.
An Iowa signee, Levin leads the way.
Last season the 5-foot-9 point guard was one of only three players statewide to average at least 18 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3.5 steals per game as she averaged 18.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.7 steals while helping Solon to a 23-3 record.
Levin enters her final prep season with 1,391 career points, 290 career assists and 288 career steals.
Junior, City High
In her first season at City High Palmer wasted little time establishing herself as one of the top scorers in Class 5A.
Palmer ranked 11th in 5A in scoring averaging 18.5 points per game on her way to being a unanimous first-team all-Mississippi Valley Conference Valley Division selection.
The 5-foot-9 Palmer did far more than score last season in her City High debut.
Palmer averaged 4.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and a team-high 1.9 steals per game on a young City High squad.
While putting up big scoring numbers Palmer managed to be efficient on the offensive end shooting 43 percent from the field and 70 percent from the free throw line.
Palmer excelled at getting to the foul line, ranking eighth in 5A in free throw attempts (115) and seventh in made free throws (81).
Regina has reached the Class 2A state tournament each of the last two seasons and the play of Miller has been a big reason for the recent Regal success.
Miller built on a strong freshman season with a breakthrough sophomore campaign last season earning 2A all-state second team honors from both the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association and the Iowa Girls Coaches Association.
The 5-foot-6 Miller led Regina in scoring, rebounding and steals last season and ranked second on the team in assists while helping the Regals to a 21-5 record that included an unbeaten River Valley Conference South Division title.
Miller averaged 17 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals per game as a sophomore on her way to being named a unanimous RVC South Division pick.
Among the best shooters in 2A, Miller ranked fifth in the state with 76 made 3-pointers and shot 52 percent from the field including 43 percent from 3-point range.
Sophomore, West High
Fincham quickly acclimated herself to the high school game in her first varsity season ranking third on the team in scoring, rebounding and assists on a West High team that went 16-7.
The 5-foot-9 Fincham averaged 8.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game as a freshman while flashing an impressive combination of size, athleticism and skill.
Fincham wasn’t just productive during her freshman campaign she was efficient, shooting 50 percent from the floor including 34 percent from 3-point range while ranking third on the team in made 3-pointers.
Fincham also shot 71 percent from the free throw line as a freshman and will look to take a step forward this season as she emerges as more of a focal point in the West High offense.
Senior, West Branch
A three-year starter Pickett is coming off the best season of her career and will look to take another sizeable step forward this season as the Bears replace three starters from a year ago.
Pickett averaged career highs in points, rebounds and steals last season while setting a West Branch single-season program record with 75 made 3-pointers.
The 5-foot-8 Pickett averaged a team-high 10.8 points per game while shooting 31 percent from beyond the 3-point line.
Pickett also averaged 4 rebounds, 3 steals and 1 assist per game while helping West Branch to a 7-17 record.
It was no coincidence that the breakthrough season for Solon came in the same season that Miller had her own personal break out season.
Miller averaged career highs in points, rebounds, assists and steals while helping Solon to its first 20-win season since the 2006-2007 season and first trip to state since 2006.
The 5-foot-7 Miller earned third-team Class 3A all-state honors from both the Iowa Girls Coaches Association and Iowa Print Sports Writers Association after averaging 11.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.9 steals per game last season.
The more Miller plays the better she seems to get.
Miller scored in double figures in nine of the final 10 games last season, including all five postseason games, averaging 15.8 points during the postseason that helped her earn a spot on the all-tournament team at the 3A state tournament.
Teammate Morgan Miller got much of the attention but Clark enjoyed her own breakthrough season a year ago while helping the Regals to a second consecutive state tournament appearance.
Clark averaged a career-high 14.6 points per game last season on her way to being named a unanimous first-team all-River Valley Conference South Division pick.
Versatility is the key for Clark who teams with Miller to give the Regals one of the best backcourts in 2A.
The athletic Clark averaged 4.3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals per game last season while shooting 53 percent from the floor including 33 percent from 3-point range.
Clark shot 67 percent from the free throw line while leading Regina in free throw attempts (116) and free throws made (78).
Junior, Liberty High
Already a two-year starter, Casey is set up for a breakthrough season as she looks to step into an even larger role in the Liberty High backcourt.
Over the past two seasons Casey has earned a reputation as one of the area’s top shooters, hitting a combined 91 3-pointers in her first two varsity seasons.
After averaging 6.8 points while connecting on 43 3-pointers as a freshman Casey made 48 3-pointers and averaged a career-high 8.3 points per game last season as a sophomore helping the Lightning to a school-record 14 wins.
The 5-foot-9 Casey also averaged 2.4 rebounds and .7 assists per game a year ago and should see both of those numbers climb this winter.
Senior, Clear Creek Amana
A first-team all-state volleyball player that is headed to Drake next season Beck is also a major force on the basketball court and will look to help Clear Creek Amana to another huge season.
The 6-foot-2 Beck is a difference maker on both ends of the court with her length and athleticism and teams with Locklear to give the Clippers one of the best front court combos in Class 4A.
Beck averaged 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds 1.7 blocked shots and 1.6 assists per game last season on her way to being a unanimous first-team all-WAMAC West Division pick.
Beck was among the most efficient offensive players in the state ranking fourth in the state in field goal percentage at 65.3.