By Bob Bakken
Girls Basketball: State Tournament Underway
Iowa’s showcase of girls basketball has begun its week-long run at the Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines. The state tournament has played out its first round with semifinals and finals continuing through Saturday evening.
Two defending state champions at the tournament have already been sidelined.
Sioux City North was ousted in the Class 4-A quarterfinals Wednesday by Cedar Rapids Washington, 75-63. The Warriors were paced in the win by Ktelin Oney’s 27 points.
Sioux City Heelan did likewise to defending Class 3-A titlist Cedar Rapids Xavier, 47-31. The 22-2 Crusaders now face second-ranked Ballard of Huxley in the semi-finals, one of two teams to have defeated Heelan this season. Ballard was a 58-45 winner in the quarterfinals over Dallas Center-Grimes.
The closest quarterfinal game of the first round came Monday morning, when top-ranked Dunkerton survived an upset scare from WCLT, 70-68. Kayla Waskow scored 31 points for the Raiders in their first-ever state tournament appearance.
Dunkerton was later upset in the semi-finals by Newell-Fonda (23-3), a team with no seniors on it. The unranked Mustangs handled the Raiders (now 25-1) 81-62 to move into the championship game against Springville, another rookie in the Class 1-A tourney field, which beat second-ranked Lawton-Bronson 60-45.
Boys Basketball: State Tournament Pairings Set
As the girls are wrapping their run for state championship hardware, the boys are waiting to make their appearance on the “big stage,” starting next Monday.
Three unbeaten teams are in the four-class tournament field. SCMT-Sheffield is the top seed in Class 1-A with a 23-0 record. Pella Christian carries a perfect 23-0 record into the tournament in Class 2-A, and in Class 3-A, Forest City brings the unbeaten moniker to Des Moines.
Forest City made the state tournament with a last minute, 57-55 victory over Iowa Falls-Alden in the sub-state finals at Fort Dodge.
The Indians rallied from eight points behind in the second-half for the victory, as senior standout Brett Putz buried a clutch three-pointer with just over a minute left. He told the Forest City Summit newspaper, "When I let it go, I had no doubt in my mind. I hadn't had a good night shooting, but that one ... that one felt great."
Wrestling: Same Teams Dominate At Dual Wrestling Finals
Saturday’s state champions at the team dual meet wrestling finals in Cedar Rapids were the same teams to get championships in the traditional state tournament in Des Moines the week before.
Gilbertville-Don Bosco won the Class 1-A championship, Ballard of Huxley claimed the Class 2-A title, and Waverly-Shell Rock won the Class 3-A championship at the U.S. Cellular Center.
For Waverly-Shell Rock, the championship win was Coach Rick Caldwell’s 150th dual meet victory, as the Go-Hawks defeated Iowa City West 42-28 in the finals. The meet featured two of the top nine squads in the nation, as Waverly-Shell Rock was ranked fourth in the nation and West was ranked number nine.
Ballard had little problem with Creston/Orient-Macksburg, winning its finals meet 55-8 for the Class 2-A championship. The Bombers lost only six matches during its two regional meets and three more at the state duals.
Don Bosco had a 92-meet winning streak snapped by Waverly-Shell Rock during the regular season, but still won its fourth straight Class 1-A dual meet state championship in a 40-20 victory over Nashua-Plainfield. Don Bosco has also won three traditional titles for a total of seven state championships.
Gymnastics: Johnson Starts Her Trek toward Beijing
West Des Moines Valley sophomore gymnast Shawn Johnson is in New York this weekend, beginning her run for Olympic gold at Beijing this summer.
Johnson is the reigning world champion and is defending her title at the American Cup, an event nationally televised by NBC.
She’s getting a lot of national publicity and says she’s trying to handle the pressure, telling the Des Moines Register newspaper, "I've set the bar so high for myself that I'm working so hard to reach it again and even pass it. I'm excited. It's going to be very nerve-wracking."
Analyst Elfi Schlegel adds, "It's her competition to lose. She is the queen of gymnastics right now."
Iowa high schools as organizing bodies do not sponsor gymnastics as a sport.