Four area girls basketball teams will look to punch their respective tickets to state in regional final action tonight.
No. 15 Manson Northwest Webster, 13th-ranked Pocahontas Area and No. 12 South Central Calhoun all remain standing in 2A, while top-ranked Newell-Fonda is still alive in 1A.
The Cougars (19-4 overall) face No. 8 Dike-New Hartford (20-2) in Jewell. Manson Northwest Webster is coming off back-to-back postseason victories over Belmond-Klemme (64-29) and Emmetsburg (42-32).
In the absence of first team all-state guard and University of Northern Iowa signee Ellie Herzberg (elbow injury), the Cougars have leaned heavily on sophomores Faith Troshynski (13.0 points per contest) and Brenna Peters (9.3). Manson Northwest Webster is seeking its eighth trip to state in school history and fifth in the last eight years.
Dike-New Hartford, which has reeled off 10 straight wins, ousted Grundy Center (51-36) and South Hardin (59-33) during its current tournament trek. Ashley Dumler (12.9), Brooke Morgan (10.7) and Briana Weber (10.5) are the top scoring threats for the Wolverines, who have prevailed by double figures 19 times this winter.
Second-ranked (3A) Crestwood (62-49) and No. 4 (2A) Hudson (53-42) handed North Iowa Cedar League East co-champion Dike-New Hartford its only losses. Morgan (Wisconsin) and Weber (Northern Iowa) have each committed to play for Div. I volleyball programs after helping the perennial power Wolverines to three consecutive state crowns.
Manson Northwest Webster (19-4) vs. Dike-New Hartford (20-2) in Jewell
Pocahontas Area (21-3) vs. Western Christian (23-1) in Sheldon
South Central Calhoun (20-3) vs. Panorama (20-3) in Jefferson
Newell-Fonda (21-2) vs. George-Little Rock (15-9) in Cherokee
Sporting an 11-game winning streak, Pocahontas Area (21-3) will be put to the test by top-ranked Western Christian (23-1). Action will take place in Sheldon.
The Indians recently eliminated Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn (78-64) and Okoboji (79-75). Freshman Elle Ruffridge (23.7) and senior Hannah Stafford (15.3) are the main offensive weapons for Pocahontas Area, whose starting lineup also features ninth-grade twin sisters Faith Meyer and Grace Meyer.
Jamie Gesink (15.3) and Kenzie Bousema (12.0) pace the balanced attack for the two-time defending state champion Wolfpack. As a team, Western Christian ranks first in 2A and second in the state in scoring (77.4).
The Wolfpack, who went a perfect 14-0 in the Lakes Conference, suffered their only setback on Jan. 14 at No. 1 (3A) MOC-Floyd Valley (69-54). On the volleyball court, tradition-rich Western Christian has finished second at state the past three years.
South Central Calhoun (20-3) will battle 10th-ranked Panorama (20-3) in Jefferson. Juniors Haley Birks (15.0) and Kori Assman (9.3) are the focal points for the Titans, who downed Audubon (52-41) and IKM-Manning (63-60) in regionals.
Head coach Dave Birks of South Central Calhoun previously directed Rockwell City-Lytton to a 1A state title in 2004 and a runner-up effort in 2003.
After dropping their first two games of the season, the Panthers have lost just once since - a tight 44-42 decision against undefeated and No. 1 reigning 4A state runner-up Harlan on Feb. 8. Panorama's catalysts are Central Missouri recruit Olivia Godfrey (14.7) and Brooke Beckman (9.2).
Last year's state runner-up Newell-Fonda (21-2) will meet George-Little Rock (15-9) in Cherokee.
Dick Jungers' Mustangs advanced with easy postseason triumphs over Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn (79-36) and Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire (74-28). Seniors Renee Maneman (15.6) and Claudia Larsen (12.3) form a reliable 1-2 punch for the Mustangs, who were 9-0 in the Twin Lakes Conference.
Newell-Fonda, which ranks second among all 1A teams in scoring (65.7), has made nine previous trips to Des Moines. The Mustangs also placed second at state in 1997, 2000 and 2008.
Following a rocky 3-7 start to their season, George-Little Rock has now managed eight straight victories, including a 70-61 upset of 12th-ranked LeMars Gehlen in the regional semifinals. Jessica Sandbulte (12.9) and Teyha Graham (11.3) lead the way for the Mustangs.
Tip times for all four games is set for 7 p.m. State action will be held March 3-8 at Wells Fargo Arena.