Archive for November, 2008

MVC’s still whacking the MAC

November 26, 2008

It’s the same old story in the MVC-MAC girls’ basketball saga.

The MVC still rules. By a lot.

The two Eastern Iowa 4A conferences have met seven times in the first week of the season. It’s 7-nil, MVC.

Here are the scores:

Cedar Rapids Prairie 34, Muscatine 19 (no, that was a game, not a jamboree)

Cedar Rapids Xavier 63, Davenport North 44

Dubuque Hempstead 52, Clinton 42

Dubuque Senior 38, Pleasant Valley 37

Dubuque Wahlert 52, Bettendorf 43

Iowa City High 48, Burlington 41

Iowa City High 59, North Scott 22

When the Dubuque schools are 3-0, you know things are going your way.


Girls’ basketball preseason Super Ten

November 26, 2008

I’ve been meaning to get this out and am finally getting around to it. This was done before any games were played and will be reflected as such.

This includes the 75 or so Gazette-area teams.

1. LINN-MAR (22-3 in 2007-08) — This is an easy selection as No. 1. The Lions are ranked 4A No. 1 preseason by The Gazette and the IGHSAU. Jaime Printy is an Iowa signee and Kiah Stokes is a superstar-to-be. Stokes looked a lot stronger and a lot more mature in the Lions’ preseason scrimmage last week.

2. MFL MAR MAC (27-1) — Yes, we’ve got a sort-of-small school in at No. 2. The Bulldogs have virtually everything back from last year’s 2A state runner-up squad. They’ll torture their UIC foes at the defensive end.

3. MARION (21-3) — It’s going to be a fun winter in Marion; too bad the Indians and the Lions don’t play this year. This team will be the class of the Wamac Conference. It was extremely impressive in the Metro Jamboree.

4. SPRINGVILLE (25-3) — The defending 1A state champions welcome back 100 percent of their roster. Credit Brian O’Donnell for upgrading the Orioles’ schedule; they’ll play Cedar Rapids Kennedy again (this time at home) and face MFL MarMac at Rivalry Saturday.

5. CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY (14-7) — Whenever Jade Rogers returns, it won’t be soon enough. She averaged 22 points and 13 rebounds per game as a sophomore. Her early absence (ACL tear, she’s scheduled back in January) could be a blessing, forcing her teammates to find ways to score without her.

6. CEDAR RAPIDS XAVIER (17-8) — The Saints will make a smooth adjustment to Class 4A (really, it makes no impact until the postseason). On the other hand, it gives the IGHSAU bracketologists one more good Metro team to consider when dividing up the regionals.

7. IOWA CITY WEST (8-14) — Year 2 of the B.J. Mayer administration will be far more fruitful than the debut season. The Women of Troy will be the most improved team in the area behind Emma Krieger-Kittle and Madison Sadecky.

8. IOWA CITY HIGH (22-3) — Coach Bill McTaggart pleaded in his preseason questionnaire not to place City in the top 10 in 4A. Sorry, with Virginia Johnson back, you’re too good to be ignored. The Little Hawks won’t repeat as 4A state champions, but they’ll be plenty competitive.

9. MOUNT VERNON (19-2) — Last year’s EIHC champion now resides in the East Division of the Wamac Conference. The Mustangs will be tall and very strong defensively. Will the disappointment of the last day of the volleyball season be a distraction or motivation?

10. TIPTON (17-5) — The favorite in the debut season of the Cedar Valley Conference. Missy Miller, one of the favorites for 2009 Gazette Female AOY, leads a veteran team.

The class-by-class top fives:

4A: 1. Linn-Mar, 2. Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 3. Cedar Rapids Xavier, 4. Iowa City West, 5. Iowa City High.

3A: 1. Marion, 2. Mount Vernon, 3. Vinton-Shellsburg, 4. Washington, 5. Benton Community.

2A: 1. MFL MarMac, 2. Tipton, 3. Sigourney, 4. Maquoketa Valley, 5. Turkey Valley.

1A: 1. Springville, 2. Midland, 3. Valley Community, 4. Highland, 5. Olin.

Area prep football rankings: FINAL

November 25, 2008

So how would Solon compete with the big boys? Who knows for sure. I’m not saying the Spartans would dominate in the MVC. But I’m convinced they could compete. Here are your final “Super Ten” for the season:

1. SOLON (14-0) – Sixty points in the championship game? Sixty? The Spartans take a 27-game win streak into 2009, and the string could escalate to 41 by season’s end.

2. CEDAR RAPIDS WASHINGTON (11-2) – Just when the Warriors seemed to have everything going their way, they tripped on the UNI-Dome carpet in the semifinals.

3. IOWA CITY HIGH (10-1) – Great season. Awful ending. First-round playoff loss to Cedar Rapids Xavier was a head-scratcher.

4. DECORAH (13-1) – Three wins in 2007, then 13-1 and state runners-up a year later. Yeah, that’s improvement.

5. CEDAR RAPIDS XAVIER (8-4) – A nice postseason run, until the turnover avalanche left the Saints buried against Cedar Falls.

6. CEDAR RAPIDS PRAIRIE (7-4) – Craig Jelinek’s postseason drought is over. His playoff woes endure.

7. CEDAR RAPIDS KENNEDY (6-4) – Cougars were forced to swallow two extremely bitter losses to their “friends” to the west on 42nd Street.

8. WILLIAMSBURG (9-2) – Another solid season for the Raiders. Double-OT win over Grinnell got them back to the playoffs.

9. MID-PRAIRIE (10-2) – Somewhere, Tanner Miller just broke another tackle.

10. NORTH TAMA (13-1) – Swinging gate slammed Redhawks in overtime of Class A final. Maybe not the wisest play by Southern Cal, but it worked.


Prep football finals predictions

November 21, 2008

Eight-man kickoff is less than a half-hour away, so I’d best get cracking on this, eh?

EIGHT-MAN (10:30 a.m. Friday)

Armstrong-Ringsted 36, Lenox 26

CLASS A (2 p.m. Friday)

North Tama 14, Southern Cal 6

CLASS 4A (7:05 p.m. Friday)

West Des Moines Valley 27, Cedar Falls 17

CLASS 1A (10 a.m. Saturday)

Emmetsburg 28, West Lyon 13

CLASS 2A (1 p.m. Saturday)

Solon 26, Central Lyon-GLR 14

CLASS 3A (4 p.m. Saturday)

Sioux City Heelan 21, Decorah 10

Girls’ bkb 2008-09: Projected MVC standings

November 20, 2008

Final projected regular-season standings:


Cedar Rapids Kennedy             14-2     17-4

Cedar Rapids Xavier                 12-4     17-4

Iowa City High                         10-6     15-6

Iowa City West                         10-6     15-6

Waterloo West                            9-7     14-7

Dubuque Wahlert                       7-9     10-11

Dubuque Hempstead                 2-14     4-17

VALLEY DIVISION             Conf.     All

Linn-Mar                                 15-1     20-1

Cedar Falls                                8-8      10-9

Cedar Rapids Prairie                  7-9      11-10

Cedar Rapids Jefferson              7-9      10-11

Cedar Rapids Washington         7-9       10-11

Dubuque Senior                        2-14     4-17

Waterloo East                            2-14     4-17

Preseason girls’ basketball rankings

November 18, 2008

IGHSAU staffer Jason Eslinger said that his preseason rankings will be released Thursday.

Mine will go in Friday’s paper, and the preseason No. 1 teams should come as no surprise.

I’m going with Linn-Mar (4A), Ballard (3A), MFL MarMac (2A) and Springville (1A).

Column on the finger at state volleyball

November 18, 2008

(NOTE: This column was published in today’s Gazette)

The message arrived in my e-mail inbox at 11:32 Friday night.

The author was a high school volleyball player who had competed at the state tournament earlier in the day.

Out of respect and because of the author’s age, her name and school are withheld.

Something was weighing on her mind, and for good reason:

“I would like to sincerely apologize regarding my behavior toward the photographers.


At the end of the match, (our team) was very emotional and we were all crying and hugging each other. I was bawling in the arms of one of my teammates when I saw two photographers about 4 feet away from my face snapping photos of a very emotional and heartbreaking moment.”

It was a great match, one of the most suspenseful of a tournament full of great matches.

The winners cry in celebration and get to play another day.

The losers cry in despair. Their season is over. Maybe their career is over.

It’s raw emotion, as one of my co-workers suggested.

Matches like this are why you go to summer camps or wake up at 5 in the morning for two-a-days in August.

“I had a weak moment and thought for a second that it would lighten the mood for myself if I made an obscene gesture with my middle finger straight at the photographers.”


Lighten the mood?

Pick one: Tell a joke. Sing a song. Flip the bird …

“Right after I did it, I felt completely embarrassed and realized how unclassy, immature, and stupid I was for doing it.”


Right after you did it (and yes, I saw it as it happened), I thought back to my days as a high school athlete, albeit a mediocre one at best.

I contemplated the ramifications had I committed such an act.

And I shuddered.

The scruff of my neck would have been grabbed by my father.

I’d have been dragged off the floor.

It would have been ugly and humiliating. It would have been justified.

But that was the mid-’80s. Times have changed. Twenty years ago, we’d have been outraged by such a gesture. Today, we just shrug and shake our heads. And that’s more sad than the gesture itself.

“I did apologize later to the photographers but I feel like it wasn’t enough.

“I feel like a disgrace and that I did not represent (my school) well and I did not represent myself well.”

The moment of my bad decision has been re-playing in my mind over and over again and has dominated my thoughts even more than the last point of the match …

And your feelings are right on the money.

On the other hand, your sincerity appears legitimate. If your conscience convinces you to craft an e-mail at 11:32 at night, I don’t classify you as a phony.

Whether you face punishment is up to your school and for your parents to decide. Assuming you grow wiser from this, I feel your suffering has been sufficient.

Your own words describe your act as “unclassy, immature and stupid.” If this is the most unclassy, immature and stupid thing you do in life, you will have lived well.

“I am very sorry. I am truly embarrassed and I wanted to give a sincere apology.”


Apology accepted.



(Thoughts? Too harsh on the girl? Too soft??)

Record attendance

November 16, 2008

Saturday’s attendance was 6,062, the fourth session of the week to set a record.

The final count was 33,514, a tournament record.

Volleyball finals predictions

November 15, 2008

We’re 10 minutes to gametime (matchtime?) for the first of four championships at the state volleyball tournament. Here are the picks:

CLASS 4A: Ankeny (39-1) vs. Johnston (40-1)

Flip a coin. This one’s too close to call. Ankeny probably has been the more impressive team this week. Johnston handed the Hawkettes their only loss of the year. The only surprise would be if this one went quickly. I’ll stay with my pre-tournament hunch.

Ankeny in 5.

CLASS 3A: Marion (45-6) vs. Mount Vernon (39-1)

The top-ranked Mustangs have taken no prisoners in their first two matches. Neither Pella nor Nevada took more than 16 points in a game. Marion might feel it’s a team of destiny after rallying from 0-2 against Sioux City Heelan. I still think it’s Mount Vernon’s year.

Mount Vernon in 4.

Class 2A: Dike-New Hartford (37-4) vs. Western Christian (46-4)

Without a doubt, DNH has the best player in the class — or maybe any class — in Hannah Willms. The Wolverines snapped IKM-Manning’s hopes of an unbeaten season in four-game semifinal win. Western Christian swept its first two matches here. The Wolfpack won’t sweep again, but they’ll probably prevail.

Western Christian in 5.

Class 1A: Ackley AGWSR (37-4) vs. Tripoli (28-11)

If the Panthers win, they will set themselves up for another string of titles. Freshman Megan Gilbert is terrific. She didn’t play in a 2-1 loss to AGWSR in their earlier meeting due to a sore neck. I took AGWSR before the tournament, and I hate to contradict myself. Just a hunch that Gilbert’s presence will be difference.

Tripoli in 5.

1 vs. 2, three times

November 15, 2008

Apparently, IGHSAU staffer Jason Eslinger knows what he’s doing when it comes to ranking and bracketing teams.

The 4A, 3A and 2A championship matches will be battles between No. 1 and No. 2.

It’s Johnston and Ankeny in 4A, Mount Vernon and Marion in 3A, Western Christian and Dike-New Hartford in 2A.