In its march through the regular season as the Class 2A title favorites, Regina hasn’t faced many potential challenges, having won more than two-thirds of its games this season by 20 or more points.
Saturday provided a rare on-paper test in No. 10 Cascade, which entered with just one loss in its first 10 contests.
The Regals cruised to a 78-57 victory on the shoulders of sharpshooting junior Mary Crompton, who set single-game school records for points (39) and 3-pointers (10) as Regina (12-0) reached the 70-point plateau for the eighth time this year. Crompton nearly outscored Cascade in the first half (23-22) and became the first Regal with a 30-point outing since Zoe Dutchik did so in the 2010-11 season.
It gives Regina yet another boost, heading into Tuesday’s showdown against Mid-Prairie — a matchup that features two of eastern Iowa’s hottest teams.
Speaking of the Golden Hawks…
Mid-Prairie stays flying
In what has been an impressive turnaround from a 1-3 start, Stephen Bender’s unit added another monumental step Saturday night. Backed by three double-digit scorers, No. 15 Mid-Prairie pushed past Class 2A No. 14 Bellevue, 60-47, for its ninth consecutive win.
Seniors Ireland Hostetler (16 points, 12 rebounds) and Ali Butters (15 points) led the Golden Hawks (10-3), while junior Anna Vilovchik added a season-high 12 points. This is Mid-Prairie’s longest winning streak since the 2011-12 season, when the Golden Hawks reeled off 13 straight from Dec. 22 to Feb. 6.
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of Saturday’s win came in the final stretch, where Bender’s squad outscored Bellevue, 25-8, in the fourth quarter despite facing a 39-35 deficit through three. The Golden Hawks’ ability to close has been a driving factor in their current surge.
“The biggest is we’ve been finishing,” Bender said last week. “We’ve been making the extra pass and just playing great team basketball — and we’ve cranked up our defense. If you look at the games that we’ve won (in a row), we’re giving up way fewer points than we were early and we’re valuing the basketball way more.
“… At the start of the year, we were turning it over around 25 times (per game), and so we’ve cut our turnovers down. A lot of that is just being stronger with the basketball, trying to pass through a press more instead of dribbling through it. Those are the things — cutting our turnovers down, making the extra pass and finishing.”
Little Hawk production
After going 1-1 in a pair of MVC duals Thursday, City High wrestling delivered a strong showing at Saturday’s Centerville Big Red Wrestling Invite, churning out a second-place team finish with two individual champions. Overall, nine of the 13 Little Hawk wrestlers cracked the top five.
Joey Harney (132) and Jacob Dykes (195) both racked titles, while Kyle Hefley (160), Brock Hunger (182) and Jacob Murry (285) all secured runner-up finishes.
An impressive run of pure dominance ended Saturday.
In a matchup of top-ranked heavyweights, Regina’s Jared Brinkman fell, 3-2, to Western Dubuque’s Aaron Costello at the Cascade Invitational, snapping Brinkman’s 64-match winning streak that spanned over the last two seasons. The Regal senior, who entered as the top heavyweight in Class 1A, went 42-0 last year en route to a state title and began his final prep campaign 22-0 before Saturday’s loss.
Costello’s efforts propelled Western Dubuque to a team championship, while Regina finished sixth. The Regals’ Nick Milder (170) grabbed an individual title, followed by Ryan Schott’s runner-up showing at 160 pounds.
A number of Iowa City-area schools competed in Saturday’s Ed Hadenfeldt Invitational, with host Solon (231.5) leading the local group as runner-up behind team champion Lisbon (237.5). West Liberty (187) finished third in front of Clear Creek Amana (10th, 67.5) and West Branch (14th, 5.0).
The Spartans racked up four individual champions, as brothers Bryce and Drew West continued their dominance at 120 and 126 pounds, respectively. The other two titles arrived on the heavier end, with Tyler Linderbaum (285) and Zach Wegmann (220) taking care of things up top.
Solon’s Ben Carr (138), Graeson Dall (152), Trevor Nelson (160) and Dillon Diltz (182) all finished runners-up as well.
West Liberty, meanwhile, picked up individual titles for Bryce Esmoil (195) and Joe Kelly (152), who upended Dall to move to 24-1 this season. Austin Beaver (145) and Will Esmoil (106) both helped the Comets with second-place showings also.
CCA’s Ethan Taylor (285) led the Clippers’ production, while Zach Wright (138) was tops for West Branch.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.