Joe Sigrist handed out custom-made towels to each of his Valley High girls basketball players at team dinner on Oct. 27, 2016, about a month before the Tigers opened their season against Mason City.
A big Valley “V'”occupies the front of the orange towels, with 15 goals filling the inside of the letter. The first and last goal, sitting atop each side of the V, have dates attached to them.
Goal No. 1: Establish Team Goals — October 27, 2016.
Goal No. 15: Celebrate Together — March 4, 2017.
Sigrist and his Tigers accomplished Nos. 1 and 15 and everything in between as they beat Cedar Falls 71-59 on March 4 to win their first girls’ basketball state title. For his efforts and excellent leadership abilities, Sigrist has been named the Des Moines Register’s All-Iowa Girls’ Basketball Coach of the Year. He will be honored at the Des Moines Register Sports Awards on June 24.
“This just means I coached an amazing group of girls,” Sigrist said. “We had a plan when I took this job five years ago and our plan took five years to accomplish — and that’s to bring a girls basketball state title to Valley.”
Valley has become a thoroughly fun team to watch under Sigrist. It uses a run-and-gun offense that scored a state tournament-record 87 points in its quarterfinal win over Dowling Catholic this year. It led 5A with 69.3 points per game and was third with a 47.5 field-goal percentage — both program bests within the past decade.
Sigrist said his team operates as though there’s a shot clock; it tries to run its offense in 8-10 seconds.
“Playing an exciting brand of basketball helps get our youth interested,” he said. “I look back to championship game and we had third and fourth grade girls, they spelled out ‘Valley Tigers’ in orange and black. So you know that it’s making its way down with our youth camps. I just think there’s a lot of excitement throughout the community.”
Valley won its first girls basketball state title after coming up short in 2015, 1995 and 1965. Valley had won 66 team state titles, but never in girls’ hoops. Sixty-seventh time’s the charm for the Tigers, whose run to the state title was remarkable.
They lost to Ames, 66-63, on Dec. 20. After that, they rattled off 17 straight wins to march to the state title. They scored 68 and allowed 46.8 points per game over that dominant stretch. They finished 24-2 — another program best of the past decade.
“A lot of times people don’t understand that we roll because of him,” said sophomore guard Zoe Young, who led Valley with 14.2 points per game. “Our practices and everything we do — he prepares us for everything.”
Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.
SPORTS AWARDS INFO
The Register is inviting about 800 of Iowa’s best high school athletes to the Des Moines Register Sports Awards on June 24. Those athletes will receive a free ticket to the event, which is headlined by celebrity speaker Shaquille O’Neal.
When: June 24; Doors open at 7 p.m. Event begins at 8 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines
Ticket info: General admission tickets are currently on sale at sportsawards.desmoinesregister.com. They are $35, plus processing fees. Concessions will be available at the ceremony.