WASHINGTON — A Class 2A state qualifying banner will be on the line on Wednesday night at Washington High School. No. 9 Van Buren County looks to finish their regional run with a win over No. 6 West Branch in one of the most anticipated games of the night in Iowa girls basketball.
VBC has run through their first two opponents. The Warriors crushed Louisa-Muscatine 65-30 in the regional quarterfinals and then shut down No. 7 Mediapolis 43-23 on their own home floor to advance to the regional final.
West Branch has averaged 62 points per game in their two regional tournament games and they’ve only allowed 40 points total. The Bears crunched Wilton 60-16 in the quarterfinals and beat Wapello 64-24 in the semis. Both of those games took place on West Branch’s home court.
Van Buren is 20-3 this season, with two of those losses coming to ranked teams. Van Buren has lost to (2A) No. 3 North Linn and (1A) No. 11 Burlington Notre Dame. The worst loss the Warriors took this year was a tough night at Iowa Wesleyan Unviersity when they dropped a 47-40 loss to Wapello in the Southeast Iowa Super Conference shootout.
West Branch is 21-3 with all three of their losses coming to ranked teams. They dropped games to (2A) No. 1 Cascade, (2A) No. 2 West Hancock and (3A) No. 12 Monticello.
West Branch is 11th in scoring in Class 2A, putting up 59 points per game. Van Buren scors 58.4 points per game, 13th in the class.
Van Buren is fifth in point differential, with a +28.3. West Branch is right behind them, in sixth, with a +26.9.
Van Buren senior post and leading scorer Taryn Scheuermann is putting up 20 points per game this season, and is averaging a cool 28 points per game in the regional tournament. She and junior guard Isabel Manning (17.4 points per game) will come into the game as the top two scorers for either team.
West Branch has one player averaging double-diits. Junior guard Sasha Koenig scores 15.5 points per game and also leads the squad with 128 assists and 84 steals. She put up 21 points against Wilton in the quarterfinals, but senior teammate Taylor Thein paced the team in the semis, dropping 18 points on the Arrows.
The X-Factor in any Warrior game, of course, is who can guard Scheuermann, a 6’3 post who leads Van Buren in points and rebounds (195), and has also collected a state-high 142 blocks. The Bears do have a formidable matchup, boasting 6’1 senior Kaiya Luneckas and 6’2 sophomore Delaynie Luneckas, who have combined for over 300 rebounds this season, although both score less than five points per game.
The Warriors are a little more top-heavy than the Bears. Scheuermann, Manning and Madison Bartholomew (8.6 PPG) are the only three players above four points per game. Meanwhile, the Bears have eight players above four points per game, meaning it might be the matchup between star power and a balanced attack.
The BCMoore computer rankings have the contest at a dead heat, one of the most contested games in the entire state of Iowa. If the game does come down to the wire, that might favor Van Buren. The Warriors have played in five single-digit games this season, going 2-3 in those contests. The Bears have played in just one single-digit game, a 46-41 loss to West Hancock at the beginning of the season.
Two teams enter and only one team moves on to the state tournament in Des Moines, which will tip off on Monday.