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A look into 2017-18 WaMaC Basketball
November 30, 2017

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Temps may be cooling outside, but indoors things are just starting to heat up. Girls basketball got in their first competition last week. The Trojans travelled to Western Dubuque where they faced the Bobcats. It was more than likely the last time in the foreseeable future the two teams will meet. The Bobcats will be high tailing it out of the WaMaC Conference come next year for the Mississippi Valley Conference. But for now, the Trojans made the trek to eastern Iowa to face a Class 4A team that is ranked 9th in preseason polls and has turned out at least a couple D1 athletes in recent years. The Bobcats captured a season opening victory with a 76-47 win over the Trojans.

The Trojans have another week of non-conference play until the race begins for the conference title. Looking at last season's WaMaC standings certainly does not make any guarantees. However, the returning players and squads in the conference could be pretty telling for the 2017-18 season.

Closing out conference play last year, Marion (Class 4A) took the top WaMaC West honors followed by Center Point-Urbana in 2nd place (12-2), South Tama in 3rd (10-4), Clear Creek-Amana in 4th (8-6), Benton in 5th (5-9), Williamsburg in 6th (5-9), Independence in 7th (2-12) and lastly Vinton-Shellsburg in 8th (0-14).

Marion comes into the 2017-18 season ranked first by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union in Class 4A after a State Runner-Up finish in last year's tournament. Center Point-Urbana will move up a class to Class 4A this season and is ranked 3rd in IGHSAU preseason polls. The Stormin' Pointers finished as a state semifinalist last year and will likely contend heavily with Marion at the top of the conference. Marion and CPU have both started hot with both teams capturing wins at the Rivalry Saturday event held in Cedar Rapids the weekend of Thanksgiving. Marion dominated Linn-Mar in a 61-16 win while CPU topped 2017 State Champion North Scott 44-39.

Seven of the eight WaMaC teams look to return their leading scorers with the exception of Vinton-Shellsburg who failed to win a conference game.

Marion will return Chloe Rice (SR) and Kayba Laube who respectfully averaged 14.7 and 18.8 points per game. Also of note, two sisters (Leah and Ella Van Weelden) who played for Benton Community last season have transferred to Marion and will look to help bolster an already impressive Marion lineup. Center Point-Urbana has one final season with Drake recruit Allison Woolridge (SR), who averaged 12.9 ppg last season. CPU will also return its entire lineup from their 2017 playoff run. Look for sophomore Adrianna Katcher and senior guards LaMia Sisk and Olivia Brecht to be impact players for CPU this season. South Tama will return Jessica Musgrave (JR) who turned in an impressive sophomore campaign as the second leading scorer (20.5 ppg) in Class 3A, behind senior phenom Elle Ruffridge of Pocahontas Area.

Further down the conference standings, Clear Creek-Amana will return Karsyn Stratton (SO) averaging 14.7 ppg. Benton Community meanwhile, will be forced to reload after graduating two top scorers and losing the Van Weelden sisters to transfer. Look for Kasi McWhorter (JR) to step up for the Bobcats this season. Williamsburg looks to return several starters from last season. The Raiders were led by junior forward Lizzy Donohoe (9.8 ppg) in 2016, but she has yet to see the court this season through two games. Independence returns Mary Puffett (SO) who averages 7.9 ppg along with all but one player from their 2016-17 team. Vinton-Shellsburg will be a team of underclassmen this year as their roster is comprised of four freshman, five sophomores, and two seniors.

As for boys basketball, the Trojans had their first game on Monday against Grinnell for a non-conference season opener. STC will have their first WaMaC west competition on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at CP-U.

Last season CP-U took the conference title (12-2) followed by Benton in 2nd (10-4), South Tama in 3rd (9-5), Marion in 4th (8-6), Vinton-Shellsburg in 5th (8-6), Independence in 6th (5-9), Williamsburg in 7th (4-10) and Clear Creek Amana in 8th 0-14.

WaMaC west top finishers CP-U and Benton both look to return their leading scorers. The Pointers will return senior Grant Dirks who averaged 20.6 ppg and Benton will return Spencer Touro also a senior who averaged 18.2 ppg. Vinton, South Tama and Clear Creek-Amana will all be looking to fill the shoes of Cole Smith, Clayton Rosenberger and Tate Thomsen who each graduated last spring.

The shoes of former STC point guard Clayton Rosenberger will be tough to fill but the Trojans will return several experienced players including Kaiden Buffalo, Justus Ward, Keith Keahna, Gabe Shields, Lane Koch, Courage Tyon, and Nathan Lasley.

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