Editor’s Note: This is Day 5 of an eight-day midseason tour around the area conferences in girls’ basketball. If all goes as scheduled, it will conclude Friday, the day that the season resumes.
Here’s the plan:
Friday: Big East
Sunday: Upper Iowa
Monday: Northeast Iowa
Wednesday: Cedar Valley
Thursday: Wamac (East and West)
Friday: MVC (Mississippi and Valley)
The frontrunner: Springville (6-0, 4-0) has the state’s longest winning streak — 19 in a row — and stands alone, a step ahead of a crowded pack. The Orioles haven’t gone crazy offensively, but are allowing only 30.5 points per game.
Other contenders: It’s a crowded,confusing scene behind the Orioles. Three teams have one loss apiece: defending champion Cascade (5-1, 4-1), Edgewood-Colesburg (6-2, 4-1) and Maquoketa Valley (5-2, 3-1). It’s too early to count out Monticello (3-4, 3-2).
Potential spoilers: North Linn (4-3, 3-2) is capable, despite dropping three of four after a 3-0 start. Starmont (2-4, 2-3) beat Ed-Co and has played Maquoketa Valley and Cascade close.
Biggest surprise: Partially because it hasn’t played many of the other contenders yet — and partially thanks to a victory against Monticello — Ed-Co has fashioned a fast start.
Biggest disappointment: Monticello seemed to have resisted a downfall after getting hit hard by graduation, starting 3-1. But the Panthers dropped their last three before the break, including an 18-point home setback against Maquoketa Valley.
Leading scorer: Ed-Co senior Samantha Rolfes is averaging 20.8 points per game.
What to watch for: Saturday’s game between Cascade at Springville is THE key game in the second half of the season. Win that game, and the Orioles ought to sprint to 10-0 in the league before they play their next biggie, Jan. 23 against Maquoketa Valley. Who will emerge as the Orioles’ chief threat? Starmont beat Ed-Co, which beat Monticello, which beat Cascade, which beat Maquoketa Valley. Any of those teams could compete with Springville on a given night under the right circumstances, but can any of them be consistent enough to stay with them over a 16-game haul?
Who will win it: If it prevails Saturday, the smart money is on Springville. If not, stay tuned.