Meet the All-Iowa girls basketball player of the year finalists

Meet the All-Iowa girls basketball player of the year finalists

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Meet the All-Iowa girls basketball player of the year finalists

The All-Iowa girls’ basketball player of the year will be announced at the Des Moines Register Sports Awards in June 2017. The winner is selected by the All-Iowa committee, made up of top high school sports observers from across Iowa and sports staff members of the Register and Iowa City Press-Citizen.

Indianola junior Grace Berg tries to get a look at the basket around Johnston senior Taryn Knuth. Top-ranked Indianola beat No. 8 Johnston 77-67 in a Class 5A quarterfinal March 1 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Indianola junior Grace Berg tries to get a look at the basket around Johnston senior Taryn Knuth. Top-ranked Indianola beat No. 8 Johnston 77-67 in a Class 5A quarterfinal March 1 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Here are the three finalists from the 2017 Iowa high school girls basketball season.

Pocahontas Area's Elle Ruffridge drives to the basket during the 3A Girls State semifinal against Center Point-Urbana Wednesday, March 1, 2017.

Pocahontas Area’s Elle Ruffridge drives to the basket during the 3A Girls State semifinal against Center Point-Urbana Wednesday, March 1, 2017.

Elle Ruffridge

Senior | Guard | Pocahontas Area

Ruffridge cemented herself as one of Iowa’s most decorated girls’ basketball players ever, setting the state’s all-time career records in scoring (2,951), 3-pointers (466) and assists (802). The Missouri State recruit led all classes this season at 30 points per game and 157 made treys — 69 more than any other player in the state.

With Ruffridge at the controls, Pocahontas Area ripped off a 27-1 season, didn’t lose after Jan. 20 and ultimately captured the program’s second consecutive Class 3A title. Ruffridge poured in a team-high 22 points as the Indians rolled by Sioux Center, 61-38, in the final.

“When I go into the gym and work,” Ruffridge said earlier this year, “I look up — and I want more.”

Indianola's Grace Berg defends Johnston's Taryn Knuth in the 5A Girls State quarterfinal Wednesday, March 1, 2017.

Indianola’s Grace Berg defends Johnston’s Taryn Knuth in the 5A Girls State quarterfinal Wednesday, March 1, 2017.

Taryn Knuth

Senior | Forward | Johnston

The Dragons’ 6-foot-4 standout thrived around the basket all season, finishing the year as Class 5A’s top scorer (22.8), rebounder (13.7) and shot-blocker (85 total). Knuth was the headliner on a Johnston squad that dropped five games, won 13 of its final 16 contests and reached the state tournament for a third straight season.

“It was really special,” Knuth said earlier this month. “I’m glad that I got to come here three times.”

This year marked the end of Knuth’s hardwood dominance. The Johnston senior is a Florida State volleyball recruit and will head to Tallahassee as a forceful middle blocker. Knuth, though, likely would’ve been a Division I athlete had she selected basketball, having garnered interest from Iowa State, Drake, Wisconsin, Kansas State and others.

Indianola's Grace Berg drives to the hoop in the 5A state semifinal game against Cedar Falls March 3, 2017.

Indianola’s Grace Berg drives to the hoop in the 5A state semifinal game against Cedar Falls March 3, 2017.

Grace Berg

Junior | Forward | Indianola

The Missouri commit helped propel Indianola to its best five-player season in program history, averaging a double-double (20.4 points and 10 rebounds). The Indians rolled through countless opponents this year with little resistance, winning their first 24 games and spending much of the season ranked No. 1 in Class 5A.

Berg was strong in Des Moines, setting the 5A single-game state tournament scoring record with 36 points in Indianola’s quarterfinal win over Johnston. And even though the Indians’ record season ended short of a state title, Berg and Iowa State commit Maggie McGraw will be back next season.

“Our team chemistry is really good,” Berg said, “and that carries over to us playing together as a team.”

Dargan Southard covers preps, recruiting, Iowa and UNI athletics for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.

Pocahontas Area's Elle Ruffridge shoots a 3 point shot during the 3A Girls State semifinal against Center Point-Urbana Wednesday, March 1, 2017.

Pocahontas Area’s Elle Ruffridge shoots a 3 point shot during the 3A Girls State semifinal against Center Point-Urbana Wednesday, March 1, 2017.

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