It’s November, the first Winter Storm Watch of the approaching winter has been posted, and high school basketball is right around the corner. Here’s a sneak preview at the top three girls’ teams in the North and South Divisions of the Iowa Star Girls Conference. Boys’ preview coming at a later date. Enjoy!
Iowa Star South:
1. North Tama—North Tama returns 3 starters from a 20-4 squad a year ago, including 6’2” senior center Kailey Kladivo. Kladivo led the team with 19.2 points per game, 13.8 rebounds per game and 1.2 blocks per game last season. Other returning starters are Allison Zobel (9.3 ppg, 3.2 rebounds/game, 4.1 assists/game and 2 steals/game) and Aryn Isenhower (1.8 ppg, 3.2 rebounds/game, 2.5 assists/game, 2.1 steals/game). Sydney Fehr (5.7 ppg) and Nicole Schlichting (4.9 rpg) should round out the starting line-up for a powerful Redhawks squad that could be rated in the top 10.
2. Colo-Nesco—The Royals return 7 of their 9 top scorers from a 16-7 squad a year ago, led by shooting guard Madison Eley and senior forward Jessica Johnson. Eley led the team with 12.3 points per game, 4.6 rebounds, 3.8 steals and 2.8 assists. Johnson averaged 9.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3 steals a year ago. Other key returnees/starters are Caitlyn Riese (6.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.0 bpg), Haley Stoeffler (6.0 ppg, 1.3 spg), Dana Baker (3.3 ppg, 2.0 apg, 1.7 spg), Erica Babinat (3.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.3 spg) and Madison Farren (1.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg). The Royals will be the deepest, most experienced team in the league and will challenge the Redhawks for the South Division title and should make a deep run in the post-season tourney.
3. Don Bosco—A deep collection of juniors return to a Don Bosco team that finished 11-11 a year ago. Four of five starters return and 7 of the teams top 8 scorers, led by junior Melissa Ament (10.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg). She will be joined by fellow juniors Brittany Hickson (9.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg), Karli Welter (4.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.7 apg) and Cate Paulsen (7.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg). Other key returnees are juniors Kyndal Gardner (3.9 ppg) and Olivia Rigdon (2.0 ppg) and sophomore Kaitlyn McGarvey (1.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg). Look for Don Bosco to make great strides this season and potentially be a top 10 or 20 team next year with all of those seniors.
Iowa Star North:
1. Tripoli—Tripoli finished 23-2 last year and returns its top two leading scorers: Megan Gilbert and Bailey Kirchoff. Gilbert averaged 16.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.0 blocks per game last season. Kirchoff averaged 10.7 points, 3.4 steals and 1.7 assists while connecting for 32 3-pointers. They will be joined by Ashlen Damm (3.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.5 spg), Hannah Gienau (2.3 ppg), Sara Hoppenworth (2.4 ppg) and Jenna Capper (1.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg). Tripoli will miss the scoring of three senior starters from a year ago that all averaged over 9 points per game.
2. Clarksville—Clarksville returns every player from a team that finished 12-11 last season. Like Don Bosco, they are led by a solid group of juniors including Hannah Poppe (12.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg), Megan Backer (10.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.2 spg), Kayla Mennenga (9.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 56 3-pointers), Kimberly Wedeking (3.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.2 spg), senior Carissa Kelm (3.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.7 spg) and sophomore Emily Mennenga (5.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg). Like Don Bosco, look for Clarksville to make major strides this season and be a strong force to reckon with next year.
3. Northeast Hamilton—Coach Brandon Frohwein lost one of the best players in the league from last year’s 17-7 squad in Kalli Richardson (20.8 ppg), but returns two starters including senior Kayla Fonken (5.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.9 bpg, 1.5 spg) and junior Jennifer Willems, the teams leader in assists a year ago (3.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.0 apg). Molly Greenfield will be counted on to give the team a third scorer as she averaged 4 points per game and 2.7 rebounds last year. Other experience returning includes Jennifer Jeffers and Sara Elm.