SOLON, Ia. — Eleven games into the season, Solon girls’ starting lineup remains fluid.
That’s according to head coach Lisa Bishop, who watched her team beat West Delaware 47-42 Friday night. She said she doesn’t have a set-in-stone starting five and she doesn’t have a favorite five to rely on in clutch situations. It’s not that she doesn’t have talent — there’s just not a whole lot of separation among her players.
The Lady Spartans lost four of their top-five scorers from last year’s 14-10 team. Josie Durr, that team’s No. 2 scorer, is back for her senior year and leads the team with 17.9 points per game. Fellow senior Bryce Hinkel, sophomore Taylor Ryan and junior Brianna Smith are a few who came back with some varsity minutes under their belts, but not much.
Senior City High transfer Bryn Hanrahan also joined the team this year. So Bishop has known for a long time that she’d have to fiddle around with lots of different, relatively unknown pieces.
“It’s tough because, obviously, it’s like Josie’s there, and then everyone else has their moments,” Bishop said. “I don’t have (a solid starting five) yet. And in a way, I feel like it keeps them accountable to work hard at practice to earn that spot. And not to get so caught up in the starting position, either.”
Durr, Hanrahan, Smith, senior Alli Prybil and sophomore Gabby Marty started Friday— the team’s small lineup, Bishop said. If Solon had played a team with bigger posts than West Delaware, Bishop said that starting five would’ve changed.
If Bishop had simply gone with her top-five scorers entering Friday, her lineup would’ve been Durr (17.9), Hanrahan (7.3), Smith (4.6), Marty (2.8) and Hinkel (2.6).
Durr scored a team-high 27 in the win, including 17 in the final quarter. She also notched eight steals.
Happy days in Wellman
Mid-Prairie girls’ basketball beat previously undefeated Class 2A No. 13 Mediapolis, 63-46, on Tuesday. The Hawks led by seven entering the final frame and outscored Mediapolis 23-13 to seal the win.
Ali Butters led the way with 20 points on 5 of 8 shooting and a 9 of 12 clip from the free-throw line. Addie Rath added 18 points on 5-for-11 shooting and Ireland Hostetler had a 16-point, 18-rebound double-double.
The Hawks also beat North Cedar 50-29 Friday night, marking their sixth straight win and their third quality win in that stretch. (North Cedar, Mediapolis and West Branch, which they beat before winter break.) Entering the weekend, Butters led the team with 13.1 points per game and Rath was second with 12.1. Hostetler nearly averaged a double-double, with 9.4 points and 8.9 rebounds.
If those three continue churning out that kind of production and Mid-Prairie keeps this hot play going, it might mess around and get ranked before too long.
This was never going to be pretty year for City High boys, record-wise. With a brand new head coach and a tiny amount of varsity experience returning from last year, a winning record wasn’t, and isn’t, in the cards.
But first-year head coach Derek Roberts didn’t schedule potential gimmes to help improve an ugly record. He loves that his team has opened this season against opponents like Muscatine, Davenport North, Iowa City West, Cedar Falls, Dubuque Senior, Cedar Rapids Jefferson and Mount Pleasant, all within City’s first 10 games.
Roberts, who compared the schedule to Michigan State’s difficult nonconference schedule this year, thinks his team will be better for its ridiculous slate of games to start the year.
“I would much rather be playing these guys and having them learn against talented teams than have them skate by against average teams,” Roberts said. “It’s a really big learning process with these guys.”
The Little Hawks lost 58-43 to Waterloo West Friday.
Iowa City West senior Connor McCaffery scored his 1,000th career point during the Trojans’ 92-56 win Tuesday against Cedar Rapids Washington. He wound up with 22 in the game on 9-for-15 shooting. He added eight rebounds and five assists to his history-making night.
The Little Hawks are … really good
With its 61-36 win Friday against Waterloo West, the City High girls’ basketball team improved to 10-0 — its best start since the 2013-14 season, when the Little Hawks finished 24-1, with a state semifinal loss to Dowling Catholic. (If you’re doing the math at home, that means that 2013-14 squad won 24 straight to start the season. Yowza.)
Sophomore Courtney Joens scored 14.6 a game for that juggernaut. She now plays for Illinois.
Two of her younger sisters, junior Ashley and freshman Aubrey, lead this year’s iteration. Entering Friday, Ashley paced the team with 21.4 points and 11.4 boards per game, and Aubrey was chipping in 11.6 points per game.
Area scores at press deadline:
West Branch 45, Northeast Goose Lake 34
City High 61, Waterloo West 36
Solon 47, West Delaware 42
Regina 63, Bellevue 50
Clear Creek Amana 42, Williamsburg 38
Iowa Mennonite 54, Mediapolis 77
Highland 50, New London 36
Mid-Prairie 50, North Cedar 29
Iowa City West 72, Wahlert 28
Lone Tree 52, Winfield-Mt. Union 28
Mid-Prairie 53, North Cedar 63
Iowa Mennonite 64, Mediapolis 42
Regina 58, Bellevue 37
Highland 59, New London 76
Lone Tree 68, Winfield-Mt. Union 22
Solon 59, West Delaware 73
West Branch 63, Northeast Goose Lake 68
City High 43, Waterloo West 58
Iowa City West 75, Wahlert 44
Clear Creek Amana 47, Williamsburg 60
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_.