Waukee finally has time on its side.
December was a competitive whirlwind, and 2015 began with four CIML games in a week.
After Tuesday’s meeting with Johnston, the seventh-ranked Warriors (8-3) have 10 days until their next game and two weeks until they face another team with a winning record.
That’s enough time to recuperate, practice and take a deep breath.
“There’s a fine line between giving them too much time off and still letting them rest and improve,” said Waukee coach Justin Ohl.
“I’ve been impressed with this team’s maturity, and I think the level of trust we have as a team is really good. But this time of year, you can’t really afford to take too much time off, because other teams are continuing to work, play and get better.
“They’ll get a day off somewhere, but we’ll still do yoga on Wednesdays.”
The downtime will get a senior-led squad with sky-high expectations ready for the season’s final stretch.
Going 4-3 before winter break helped Waukee shake off pressures and attention that can surround the state’s top teams, even though their only in-state loss came at No. 2 Dowling Catholic in a game the Warriors led entering the fourth quarter.
Challenging Apple Valley (Minn.) and Omaha South (Neb.) in tight weekend games and pounding Linn-Mar of Marion in the season opener reinforced to Ohl’s team it could play with anyone.
Getting nine days off to jell mid-season could be scary for the rest of the CIML.
“We knew going in that we loaded up our schedule and I wanted to test this group,” Ohl said. “It’s helped us going forward.
“We’ve had a lot of guys that have been in our program for awhile, and they’ve been through these games and they know it’s a long season. In our league, they’ve got to be ready every night.”
Star forwards Michael Jacobson (16.5 points, 9.7 rebounds per game) and Anthony Nelson (14.4, 8.2) have overwhelmed Waukee’s lesser opponents. The backcourt is finally giving them room to work, as all four regulars — Parker Howe, Adam Rose, Michael Winger and Drew Johnson — are shooting 40 percent or better from 3-point range. Besides back-to-back road dates at Centennial and Hoover, the remaining schedule is forgiving.
The pieces are in place on Waukee’s pristine Fieldhouse floor. Could the coming break be what the Warriors need to put them together? We’ll know for sure next month.
CIML BOYS’ CAPSULES
Ames: Could the Little Cyclones be building an offensive juggernaut? Ames shot 50 percent and hit 10 3-pointers in Tuesday’s win over Urbandale, and Javan White had 36 in Saturday’s close loss to Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
Ankeny: Inconsistencies make the Hawks unpredictable. After beating Marshalltown by 35 points Tuesday, Ankeny was outscored 19-1 in the first quarter Friday.
Centennial: Three wins in 2015 have come by a combined 95 points, and now the Jaguars start a four-game home stand.
Dowling: Production can come from anywhere in this deep Maroon lineup. Ben Olson had 20 points and 10 rebounds with 8-of-9 shooting Friday vs. North.
East: Getting win No. 1 against Lincoln was a much-needed highlight. Jonathan Harrington and Fred Bickham scored 28 and 20 points off the bench in the win.
Fort Dodge: The doubly postponed game with Southeast Polk ended in familiar fashion; a big Kyle Beisch night in defeat.
Hoover: No one has gotten to 50 points against Hoover’s defense. Indianola and Ankeny were put out of reach early with rivals North and Roosevelt coming up next.
Indianola: Upsetting next level opponents like Hoover and Valley will require the Indians to shoot better than the 39 percent they logged last week.
Johnston: The Dragons are 3-6 and still clearly capable of making a late-season push. Jared Bacon and Derek Jones helped stomp Mason City 73-37 on Friday.
Lincoln: It was a week to forget. Three losses included East’s first win, a drubbing to Centennial and just 24 points against Urbandale. Guard Barry Doe’s improvement is one of few positive takeaways.
Marshalltown: Tony Smith’s hot hand earned the Bobcats a big win on Friday, finishing with 28 points on 13 shots. The junior forward was 6-of-8 from 3-point range.
Mason City: Saturday marked Mason City’s most competitive outing of 2015, an overtime loss to local 2-A power West Fork. Top scorer Jareese Williams will likely miss more games with a knee injury.
North: The offense got left behind in 2014. North has lost three straight since winter break and struggled to find the shots that led them to a 6-1 start.
Ottumwa: Nic Young is the only player in the CIML averaging better than 17 points and seven rebounds per game.
Roosevelt: Daniel Luckett’s game-winning shot against Urbandale helped the Riders win three out of four.
Southeast Polk: Weather delays couldn’t keep Garrett Northway from boosting his numbers against Fort Dodge. The junior guard has 37 points in the two games since break.
Urbandale: There was no lingering on Friday’s close loss at Roosevelt as the J-Hawks pounded Lincoln on Saturday afternoon. They’ll stay on the road this week.
Valley: Stout defense keeps the Tigers in every game, but they need Turner Scott on the other end. The junior guard had 25 and 24 points in last week’s split.
Waukee: Four wins since break, all by double digits, and the Warriors have a friendly schedule the next two weeks.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
CARTER BURNS, CENTENNIAL
With his size and hustle, Burns has made a seamless transition into the lineup. The senior totaled 15 points and 22 rebounds in last week’s big wins over Johnston and Lincoln, with 11 of his boards coming on the offensive glass.
CIML GIRLS’ CAPSULES
Ames: Molly Sanders poured in 27 points in Saturday’s win over Cedar Rapids Kennedy. Sanders hit 12 of 15 free throws.
Ankeny: Codee Myers, a sophomore, poured in 25 points in Friday’s win vs. Hoover. She added a nine-point effort Tuesday vs. Marshalltown, another victory.
Centennial: Tasha Vipond had a big week in her team’s wins over Johnston and Lincoln. She finished with 26 points and 22 rebounds for the No. 8 Jaguars.
Dowling: Amber Gierstorf scored 15 points in Tuesday’s win over Mason City. That output is double her season average. The senior shot 7-for-9 from the field.
East: Dariann Garrison-Nickerson averaged 17 points in games against Lincoln and Waukee. The senior has an 18-point average.
Fort Dodge: Justice Crooks and Mallory Killian are making 75 percent of their free-throw attempts this season. Killian is a senior, Crooks a sophomore.
Hoover: Ten players scored in Friday’s game against Ankeny. Junior Brianna Hale led the way with 11 points. Hanna Broshar, a sophomore, was second with seven.
Indianola: Haley Vesey scored 12 points in both of her team’s games this past week. Indianola beat Hoover and lost to No. 1-ranked Valley.
Johnston: Rachel Hinders nearly had two double-doubles during the week. She had 12 points and nine rebounds against Centennial on Tuesday and 18 points to go with 10 rebounds vs. Mason City on Friday.
Lincoln: Laurel Hoogensen scored 12 points, nearly double her 6.6 average, in Tuesday’s loss to East. She hit two 3-pointers and had three rebounds in the game.
Marshalltown: Senior Samantha Hughes posted one of her best overall games of the season Monday against Ottumwa: 15 points, three blocked shots and four rebounds.
Mason City: Makenzie Meyer averaged 17 points in three games, including a 31-point effort against Dowling. The junior is scoring at a 19.3-point clip this season.
North: Shamekia James led the Polar Bears with six points in Tuesday’s loss to Ottumwa. The sophomore is second on the team in scoring.
Ottumwa: Jami Nickerson scored a total of 36 points in two victories last week. She had 20 points against North on Tuesday and 16 more against Marshalltown on Friday.
Roosevelt: Sophomore Lauren Provost scored 14 points in two games over the weekend. She’s averaging seven points and has hit 11 3-pointers this season.
Southeast Polk: The No. 10-ranked Rams had a team rebounding effort in Tuesday’s win over Fort Dodge. Eleven players had at least one. Shiloh McCool led the way with seven.
Urbandale: Kennedy Kracht leads the team with a 16.5-point average. She’s also tops in rebounds, steals and blocks.
Valley: Four players are averaging nine or more points. Grace Vander Weide leads the way with a 19.4 average.
Waukee: Senior Anna Kollmorgen was a model of consistency this week. She scored 12 points in all three of her team’s games. Waukee beat East and Roosevelt and lost to Valley.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
HANNAH FULLER, VALLEY
Fuller tallied 40 points in three wins. Valley (11-0) moved into the top spot in the 5-A rankings. Fuller, a guard, scored 16 points in her team’s 56-53 win over Indianola and 21 against C.R. Xavier. Valley also beat Waukee Tuesday.
— Girls’ information compiled by the Register’s John Naughton. Follow Chris @cuellarchris and John @JohnNaughton on Twitter.