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(KMAland) -- The winter sports season is right around the corner, and we are getting you ready with daily conference previews. No. 14 is the Pride of Iowa Conference girls basketball preview.

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2021-22 PRIDE OF IOWA CONFERENCE GIRLS BASKETBALL PREVIEW

Nodaway Valley was a dominant winner of last year’s conference, posting a +24.9 point differential per game. Lenox (+19.1) was up there, too, and four others were in the green. Martensdale-St. Marys went 9-14 despite a -2.9 point differential that would predict a little better record than it was. Here’re the standings per Varsity Bound:

Nodaway Valley Wolverines — 24-1 overall, 13-0 conference

Lenox Tigers — 20-4 overall, 10-3 conference

Central Decatur Cardinals — 14-7 overall, 9-3 conference

Mount Ayr Raiderettes — 16-6 overall, 9-4 conference

Southeast Warren Warhawks — 13-8 overall, 6-6 conference

Wayne Falcons — 14-8 overall, 6-7 conference

Martensdale-St. Marys Blue Devils — 9-14 overall, 5-8 conference

Southwest Valley Timberwolves — 4-17 overall, 4-9 conference

Bedford Bulldogs — 4-16 overall, 2-11 conference

East Union Eagles — 5-16 overall, 0-13 conference

COACHES 

•Bedford: Kenny Weed

•Central Decatur: Frank Howell

•East Union: Todd Verwers

•Lenox: Jesse Cox

•Martensdale-St. Marys: Tim Baker

•Mount Ayr: Thad Streit

•Nodaway Valley: Brian Eisbach 

•Southeast Warren: Shane Rowlands

•Southwest Valley: Mike Cormack

•Wayne: Stacy Snyder

HOOP SCOOP NOTES 

•Bedford has been to five state tournaments, and they’ve all come since 2007.  Their 2012 team was the best of them, finishing just shy of a state championship with a nine-point loss in the 1A final.

•Central Decatur has been to six state tournaments, including a run of four in a row from 2016 through 2019. The Cardinals were in the semifinals in both 2018 and 2019. Their current head coach, Frank Howell, directed Audubon and Cedar Rapids Washington to a combined eight state tournaments. The Wheelers won the 1999 state championship. 

•East Union is the only POI girls basketball program that has not been to state. Afton, though, was there in 1920. They take a 15-8 loss to Mingo. Dianne Shroudemier (1961), Marilyn cheers (1964) and Amber Smith (2002) remain the only three All-State honorees in program history.

•Lenox went to four of five state tournaments between 1937 and 1941, and then they didn’t do it again until the 1998 squad advanced to Des Moines. That ’98 teams has since been honored in the KMA Sports Hall of Fame. 

•Martensdale-St. Mary has been to four state tournaments since 2009, including a three-year from ’09 through ’11. They also went in 2020. It was the 2011 tournament that saw them win the Class 1A title with wins over Newell-Fonda, West Hancock and Ar-We-Va. Mackenzie Morrison blocked 10(!) shots in the championship game. The championship season was Tim Baker’s first as head coach. 

•Mount Ayr: Mount Ayr went to the 1920 and 1921 state tournaments before the IGHSAU became a thing. They also went in 1966, 1998, 2010, 2011 and 2016. The 2010 tournament was particularly successful with Coach Streit leadin the Raiderettes within seconds of a state championship.

•Nodaway Valley made their first state appearance last season, advancing to the state semifinals before a tight loss.

•Southeast Warren was a highly successful program in the 1960s, going to four state tournaments between ’63 and ’69, and then went again in 1981. The 1963 team — led by head coach Bill Luse — finished fourth.

•Southwest Valley has never advanced to state as a school, but Corning and Villisca have combined on three trips. Corning went in 1982 (and were also immortalized in the KMA Sports Hall of Fame this year) while Villisca went in 1968 and 2013 (the Final Flight!). 

•Wayne appeared in the 1971 and 2000 state tournaments. The Falcons lost to Treynor in their last appearance 21 years ago. They were coached by former Graceland defensive line coach Stan Rupe in that trip.

TOP-RETURNING SCORERS 

The conference had three high-scoring juniors last year that went 1-2-3 in points per game. There were seven others in the top 10 that were underclassmen. Here’s a look at the top 15 returning scorers by PPG:

1. Maddax DeVault, SR, Nodaway Valley: One of the state’s best all-around players, DeVault scored 23.4 points per game to lead the conference.

2. Emily Jones, SR, Wayne: Jones had a big scoring year, too, finishing out her junior season with 22.5 points per game. She impressed me so much that I gave her all kinds of volleyball honors, despite playing in just three matches (whoops!). Hey, when you’re good, you’re good.

3. Kaylin Lack, SR, East Union: Lack ranked third in the conference with 15.7 points per game during her junior season.

4. Josie Hartman, SR, Southeast Warren: An all-around star athlete, Hartman put in 14.2 points per game as a junior.

5. Lindsey Davis, SO, Nodaway Valley: The top freshman in the conference last year, Davis had a big season with 13.9 points per game.

The rest of the top 15:

6. Alivia Ruble, JR, East Union: 11.3 PPG

7. Layni Masters, JR, Central Decatur: 11.2 PPG

8. Brynnly German, SO, Martensdale-St. Marys: 10.1 PPG

9. Maggie Haer, JR, Southwest Valley: 9.5 PPG

10. Maddie Stewart, SR, Mount Ayr: 8.8 PPG

11. Lauren Martin, SR, Central Decatur: 8.7 PPG

12. Hallee Hamilton, SR, Central Decatur: 8.5 PPG

13. Anna Parrott, SR, Martensdale-St. Marys: 8.0 PPG

14. Maddy Wood, SR, Wayne: 8.0 PPG

15. Norah Lund, SR, Southwest Valley: 7.8 PPG

Central Decatur has three of the top 12 returning scorers in the conference. East Union, Martensdale-St. Marys, Nodaway Valley, Southwest Valley and Wayne all bring back two each. Two teams were not represented in the above list, but I’ve got their top-returning scorers below:

16. Kelly Weed, SO, Bedford: 7.1 PPG

18. Kambrie Michel, JR, Lenox: 6.1 PPG

TOP-RETURNING REBOUNDERS 

Two of the top three rebounders from last season are back. In fact, six of the top 10 are returning. Here’s a look at the top 15:

1. Alivia Ruble, JR, Southeast Warren: Ruble ranked second in the league last season with 9.2 rebounds per game. 

2. Maddy Wood, SR, Wayne: Wood was one of the top offensive rebounders in the conference a year ago, finishing with 3.8 per game. Her 9.2 overall per contest was just decimal points behind Ruble.

3. Mallory Raney, SR, East Union: She can pitch, and she can rebound the heck out of the ball, too. Raney had 8.2 rebounds per game to rank sixth in the league last season.

4. Emily Baker, JR, Bedford: Baker can also pitch and rebound! She finished with 8.1 rebounds per game.

5. Anna Parrott, SR, Martensdale-St. Marys: Parrott was also active on the offensive glass, grabbing 3.2 offensive boards per game and finishing with an average of 7.6 total.

The rest of the top 15:

6. Kambrie Michel, JR, Lenox: 7.6 RPG

7. Cadence Douglas, JR, Lenox: 7.1 RPG

8. Josie Hartman, SR, Southeast Warren: 7.0 RPG

9. Emily Jones, SR, Wayne: 6.8 RPG

10. Karah Kirkland, SR, East Union: 6.0 RPG

11. Campbell German, SO, Martensdale-St. Marys: 5.9 RPG

12. Kaylin Lack, SR, East Union: 5.4 RPG

13. Kailey Phinney, JR, Martensdale-St. Marys: 5.0 RPG

14. Maddax DeVault, SR, Nodaway Valley: 4.9 RPG

15. Brynnly German, SO, Martensdale-St. Marys: 4.6 RPG

Martensdale-St. Marys is going to be big on the boards, as they bring back four of the top-returning 15 in this category. East Union has three coming back, and Lenox, Southeast Warren and Wayne have two each. There were three teams not represented above. Their top-returning rebounders:

16. Kylee Rockhold, SR, Central Decatur: 4.5 RPG

17. Maddie Stewart, SR, Mount Ayr: 4.2 RPG

20. Maggie Haer, JR, Southwest Valley: 3.8 RPG

TOP-RETURNING ASSISTS 

Three of the top four assist leaders from last season have graduated. However, six of the top 10 are coming on back. Here’s the top 15 in total assists:

1. Brynnly German, SO, Martensdale-St. Marys: German was a terrific distributor for the Blue Devils last season, posting 99 assists to finish second.

2. Lindsey Davis, SO, Nodaway Valley: Another sophomore that could get buckets for others. Davis had 64 assists to rank fifth last year.

3. Sidney Davis, SR, Wayne: The leading junior in the league in assists, Davis had 63 assists to rank sixth.

4. Alivia Ruble, JR, Southeast Warren: And the leading sophomore in the conference last season, Ruble finished with 55 dimes to finish in seventh.

5. Maddie Stewart, SR, Mount Ayr: Stewart topped Mount Ayr last season with 48 assists.

The rest of the top 15:

6. Kaylin Lack, SR, East Union: 46 assists

7. Josie Hartman, SR, Southeast Warren: 44 assists

8. Jackie Kleve, SR, Martensdale-St. Marys: 43 assists

8. Tegan Streit, JR, Mount Ayr: 43 assists

10. Campbell German, SO, Martensdale-St. Marys: 40 assists

11. Maddax DeVault, SR, Nodaway Valley: 39 assists

12. Kaylee Bauer, SR, Southeast Warren: 34 assists

12. Hallee Hamilton, SR, Central Decatur: 34 assists

12. Emily Jones, SR, Wayne: 34 assists 

15. Mallory Raney, SR, East Union: 29 assists  

Martensdale-St. Marys and Southeast Warren each have three on the list above, and East Union, Mount Ayr, Nodaway Valley and Wayne all have two each. The three other teams without someone not he list also had some players get assists:

16. Cadence Douglas, JR, Lenox: 28 assists

29. Maggie Haer, JR, Southwest Valley: 15 assists

35. Abby Dukes, SR, Bedford: 11 assists 

TOP-RETURNING STEALS 

The top two from last season are gone, but the next two are coming back. And if you look at the top 10, there are — again — six coming back from that list. Here’s the top 15:

1. Lindsey Davis, SO, Nodaway Valley: A star beyond her years, Davis was third in the conference last season with 95 steals. 

2. Maddax DeVault, SR, Nodaway Valley: The top two returning players in steals are from Nodaway Valley. Makes sense. They stole a lot of balls last yer. DeVault had 90 of them.

3. Kaylin Lack, SR, East Union: Lack was all over the court on defense, posting 75 steals and ranking sixth in the league.

4. Josie Hartman, SR, Southeast Warren: Here’s another one for Hartman, who had 70 steals on the season to rank seventh.

5. Alivia Ruble, JR, Southeast Warren: Ruble also returns a top five number. The junior posted 69 steals for the Warhawks.

The rest of the top 15:

6. Maddie Stewart, SR, Mount Ayr: 64 steals

7. Brynnly German, SO, Martensdale-St. Marys: 53 steals

7. Campbell German, SO, Martensdale-St. Marys: 53 steals

7. Maggie Haer, JR, Southwest Valley: 53 steals

10. Hallee Hamilton, SR, Central Decatur: 51 steals

11. Jackie Kleve, SR, Martensdale-St. Marys: 48 steals

12. Emily Jones, SR, Wayne: 43 steals

13. Annebelle Kennedy, SR, Southeast Warren: 42 steals

14. Norah Lund, SR, Southwest Valley: 41 steals

15. Mara Dykes, SR, Central Decatur: 39 steals

15. Lauren Martin, SR, Central Decatur: 39 steals

Central Decatur, Martensdale-St. Marys and Southeast Warren have three each on the list while Nodaway Valley and Southwest Valley tout two apiece. Here’s how Lenox and Bedford look in the category: 

29. Cadence Douglas, JR, Lenox: 23 steals

35. Vanessa Hill, SO, Bedford: 16 steals 

TOP-RETURNING BLOCKS 

The top two and three of the top five are gone in the total blocks category. But again, six of the top 10 are coming back. Here is the top 15:

1. Emily Jones, SR, Wayne: Here’s Jones again, dominating with 29 blocks. That was third in the league last season.

2. Cadence Douglas, JR, Lenox: Douglas posted 23 blocks to tie for fourth last season.

2. Maddy Wood, SR, Wayne: Another shot blocker from Wayne? Another shot blocker from Wayne. Wood had 23 blocks of her own.

4. Kambrie Michel, JR, Lenox: Oh, I see the pattern here. Lenox got 22 blocks from Michel last season as a sophomore.

5. Emily Baker, JR, Bedford: Baker tied for eighth in the conference with 19 blocks during her sophomore season.

5. Karah Kirkland, SR, East Union: Kirkland finished with 19 blocks on the year, too, finishing in that tie for eighth.

The rest of the top 15: 

7. Jynessa Cox, SR, Lenox: 15 blocks

8. Alivia Ruble, JR, Southeast Warren: 12 blocks

9. Anna Parrott, SR, Martensdale-St. Marys: 10 blocks

10. Halsie Barnes, SR, Mount Ayr: 8 blocks

10. River Hamaker, JR, Central Decatur: 8 blocks

10. Annika Nelson, SO, Nodaway Valley: 8 blocks

10. Mallory Raney, SR, East Union: 8 blocks

14. Campbell German, SO, Martensdale-St. Marys: 7 blocks

14. Kaylin Lack, SR, East Union: 7 blocks 

Nine of the 10 team are represented here, and it’s led by three apiece from East Union and Lenox. Martensdale-St. Marys and Wayne also have two each. Let’s look for our Southwest Valley leader:

29. Maggie Haer, JR & Norah Lund, SR, Southwest Valley: 2 blocks

TOP-RETURNING SHOOTERS 

The top three 3-point shooters in the conference are coming back this year. You might have guessed this, but six of the top 10 are returning, too. Here’s the top 10:

1. Maddax DeVault, SR, Nodaway Valley: 52 3PM (31.5%)

2. Lindsey Davis, SO, Nodaway Valley: 45 3PM (37.8%)

3. Emily Jones, SR, Wayne: 44 3PM (35.5%)

4. Carolyn Amfahr, SO, Martensdale-St. Marys: 31 3PM (36.9%)

5. Norah Lund, SR, Southwest Valley: 30 3PM (33.0%)

6. Hallee Hamilton, SR, Central Decatur: 25 3PM (27.2%)

7. Kaylin Lack, SR, East Union: 24 3PM (28.9%)

7. Lauren Martin, SR, Central Decatur: 24 3PM (28.9%)

7. Alivia Ruble, JR, Southeast Warren: 24 3PM (27.3%)

7. Kelly Weed, SR, Bedford: 24 3PM (27.9%)

Central Decatur and Nodaway Valley both have two on the list here. That leaves Lenox and Mount Ayr:

11. Maddie Stewart, SR, Mount Ayr: 19 3PM (24.7%)

18. Jynessa Cox, SR, Lenox: 13 3PM (19.7%)

Here are the top 10 free throw shooters by total free throws made:

1. Josie Hartman, SR, Southeast Warren: 100 FTM (60.6%)

2. Emily Jones, SR, Wayne: 88 FTM (66.2%)

3. Maddax DeVault, SR, Nodaway Valley: 87 FTM (62.6%)

4. Maddy Wood, SR, Wayne: 67 FTM (50.8%)

5. Alivia Ruble, JR, Southeast Warren: 63 FTM (45.3%)

6. Lindsey Davis, SO, Nodaway Valley: 58 FTM (61.1%)

7. Maggie Haer, JR, Southwest Valley: 56 FTM (64.4%)

8. Brynnly German, SO, Martensdale-St. Marys: 48 FTM (57.8%)

9. Maddie Stewart, SR, Mount Ayr: 44 FTM (60.3%)

10. Hallee Hamilton, SR, Central Decatur: 42 FTM (56.0%)

Pretty clear that Nodaway Valley, Southeast Warren and Wayne are going to lead the league at the line. They all had two each. That leaves us with three teams not repped here, and they are Bedford, Lenox and East Union. Here are their leaders:

11. Noelle McKnight, JR, East Union: 41 FTM (58.6%)

21. Vanessa Hill, SO, Bedford: 18 FTM (52.9%)

24. Kambrie Michel, JR, Lenox: 16 FTM (44.4%)

ONE FINAL TAKE FOR EACH TEAM 

Here’s one final take for each team listed in the order of projected finish:

Nodaway Valley: They only return two starters from a group of five that was leaned on pretty heavily last year. They’ll need some girls to step up, but when you start with the Davis and DeVault duo you’re off to a pretty fine start.

Central Decatur: They improved mightily as the season went along, and now they have six girls with starting experience coming back, including a trio of seniors in Hamilton, Rockhold and Martin that should be hugely important. Junior Layni Masters is ready for a breakthrough, too. 

Southeast Warren: The sky is the limit here. They have to replace one very important senior, but the rest of their starters and all of their reserves are coming back. At their best, the Warhawks are a POI championship contender. 

Martensdale-St. Marys: A little course correction this year? They had some bad luck last season in close games. Could a year of experience for a talented sophomore class be the difference between more wins than losses this season? I’m here for that.

Wayne; Three key starters and some talented sophomores are coming back after a bunch of experience last season. The POI East seems to be the deep league this year so their win total might not reach some of the West. However, I like this returning group quite a bit. The East is going to be a battle.

Mount Ayr: Four starters have gone and graduated for the Raiderettes, but I’m not all that concerned. Coach Thad Streit always puts a competitive team on the floor, and I figure I’ll be dead wrong with this placement by the end of the year. 

Lenox: The Lenox basketball team is going to be in the same boat as all the other sports in trying to replace their terrific senior class. That includes four starters from last year. However, there are a bunch of juniors and seniors with experience, and we’re pretty impressed with the freshman class. This could be low, too.

Southwest Valley: Southwest Valley leaned on a six-person senior class last year. Maggie Haer and Norah Lund are going to take on a big load this season, and the rest is a little bit up in the air. They improved a bunch through the season last year, and I think they’ll do the same this season.

East Union: They would pop up and be competitive against some good teams last year. With four girls that have starting experience coming back, they should be able to improve on their win total from last season. Lack, Raney and Kirkland make for a good trio. 

Bedford: The Bulldogs lost a bunch of production from their three-person senior class. Now, they turn the keys over to Emily Baker, Kelly Weed and maybe a pretty big sophomore class. Just based on returning production, I’ve got Bedford on the bottom. However, that’s hardly a scientific method of projecting. It’s usually wrong is what I’m saying.

Send any questions, comments, concerns and/or corrections to dmartin@kmamail.com.

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