Teams have broken for the holidays to examine the first sets of games before they dig into the heart of the season. For some, there are more questions than answers.
Many teams are coming into the second half of the season with big tests and things to prove. Here is a quick overview of where our local squads are sitting currently.
Queens searching for answers
It hasn’t quite clicked for the Clinton girls’ team yet.
The team hasn’t picked up a win yet, their closest coming in a heartbreaking loss to Cedar Rapids Jefferson to open the season.
The Queens are shooting under 30 percent from the field, including a minuscule 24 percent from beyond the arc, not quite finding an offensive rhythm. One of their bright spots has been Makenzie Cooley, who regularly pulls down double digit rebounds in the paint.
According to first year head coach Cathy Mark, it’s coming down to confidence.
The Queens have a tough matchup out of the break, taking on 5-3 Davenport North on the road. They then have a winable game at Pleasant Valley on Jan. 10. They could possibly pick up two wins in a row if they can take down 1-win Burlington at home to kick off the second week of 2020.
Irish, Rebels waiting for breakout
Both Prince of Peace and Northeast are having phenomenal starts to their seasons, but they’re looking for their first statement wins to cement their place among the elite.
The Irish are 4-3, but lost by less than 10 points to both Maquoketa Valley and Springville, who are ranked teams. Their only other loss is to a No. 1 North Linn squad.
The Irish should have some more wins coming their way to open up the second half, playing non-conference Fulton before heading to Easton Valley and back into Tri-Rivers Conference play.
Their next big test will be No. 3 Marquette Catholic. The Irish will take on the Mohawks in Bellevue on Jan. 17.
The Rebels are 5-3 on the year, off to one of their best starts in a decade under new head coach Johnny Driscoll. Two of their three losses have come to top ten teams as well.
They have another chance to take one from Anamosa (one of their three losses) later in the season and have another shot at a ranked team when No. 12 West Liberty comes to Goose Lake in mid-January.
Other than that, the Rebels could be competing for one of the top spots in the River Valley Conference with easily winable games coming up on their schedules.
DeWitt keeps rolling
The Sabers still have a perfect season.
Granted, they haven’t had any big tests yet, but they’re coming. The Central DeWitt girls (8-0) are currently sitting at No. 10 in the state and hoping to see that number move.
They have a decent matchup with a 3-loss Beckman team to open 2020. However, their first big test comes the next week.
On Jan. 7, the Sabers will welcome No. 3 Center Point-Urbana to their home court, their second ranked opponent of the year. They beat No. 15 Clear Creek-Amana by five in their second contest of the year.
The Sabers continue a rough stretch of schedules from there, taking on No. 2 Marion and No. 12 Maquoketa in the next two games. They’ll be out to solidify where they belong in the Class 4A rankings.
Fulton, Easton Valley, Camanche want consistency
The Fulton Steamers, Camanche Indians and Easton Valley River Hawks are all looking for the same thing: consistency.
Both squads have moments when they look good. The River Hawks have a number of athletic and speedy guards who can sink it from the outside or get it in to their lengthy forward RaeAnn Carlson, but their turnovers keep getting in the way.
The Steamers, too, have talent inside with Emily Schipper and speed on the outside, but their bench keeps getting in the way. With few subs and injury problems, their level of play drops off drastically after the starting five.
That means any foul trouble or fatigue affects them more than most.
The Indians are struggling with a short bench too. They also haven’t quite found their identity when it comes to offense. Guards haven’t found a rhythm from the outside and the Indians aren’t aggressive enough in the paint to be a threat.
All three need to answer some of their identity questions before the second half of the year and create some routine in their play.