Another season in and another trip to the hallowed grounds of the Iowa high school girls state basketball tournament for the Waukee High School girls basketball team. On Tuesday, Feb. 25, the top-seeded Warriors completed their run through the Class 5A Region 4 bracket in fitting fashion. Waukee began their 2019-20 campaign with a win against Ames and Tuesday they punched their state tournament ticket with a 58-35 win against the Little Cyclones.
Making it back to the big dance is always a tough battle but it’s something that head coach Chris Guess and his squad have made to look easy as they officially punched their seventh straight ticket to the state tournament. What’s more, is that the Warriors will now grace Wells Fargo Arena for the 14th time in the past 15 seasons.
“It’s a testament to these girls and what they do,” began coach Guess. “There isn’t a single part of the game that they don’t go above and beyond for. They are exceptional teammates and just great people overall. They earned this tonight.”
The win not only punched yet another state tournament ticket but also brought Waukee’s win total to 21 on the season, one of just 23 teams across the entire state of Iowa with over 20 wins on the campaign. The Warriors will now enter the 2019-20 state tournament with a 21-2 record and will grace the hardwood as Class 5A’s top-seeded team for the first time in over five years. Waukee’s opponent will be the ever surging Sioux City East squad with a record of 16-7. The very Sioux City East squad that best perennial power and favorite to make the tournament Dowling Catholic in Des Moines.
As for the game itself that landed the Warriors in the latest edition of the state tournament, Waukee posted up against a tough Ames squad that did present Waukee with various challenges.
“Coach Sullivan does a really good job of finding weaknesses and he always has a plan to give his team the best chance to win,” Guess said. “Ames always give themselves chances to win games, they have talented guards and are just an overall talented team.”
Even with that said, the host Warriors flashed their talent in bunches which began with a 15 point first-quarter as the Warriors held a lead entering the second quarter. That lead was quite tight as they held a slight 15-12 advantage after the initial quarter. Ultimately what did the most damage for the Warriors was their tremendous second quarter where they put up 24 points, blowing by their already Class 5A-best 19.2 second-quarter scoring average. Throughout the course of the 2019-20 campaign Waukee has owned the second quarter and with Tuesday’s performance, owns one of the states’ best marks of just 8.8 points allowed per second quarter defensively. With all that in place, Waukee took to the halftime break with a comfortable advantage 39-18.
The third quarter had just as much excitement defensively as Waukee held Ames to just four third-quarter points. The only quarter in which Waukee did not outscore Ames was in the fourth and final quarter but the 13-8 run wasn’t enough to topple the Warriors as they captured the victory.
It was yet another historical feat for the Warrior girls but what added even more to the conversation was the fitting fashion in which Waukee won. The victory not only gives Waukee girls basketball their 19th overall state tournament appearance, but it also gives coach Guess his 300th career win at Waukee High School. It’s a mark that not many coaches get to but coach Guess did just that. The ever-humble leader of the Warriors noted it was more of a team honor shared with many people who surround him.
“You’re only as good as the people around you,” began Guess. “I’ve got the greatest coaching staff ever and I get to work for the best athletic director in the state. The administrative staff is exceptionally supportive and it just wouldn’t be the same without them.”
Of course, coach Guess wasn’t afraid to shed some light back on the players themselves who posted up the great performances over the course of this season and seasons past.
For their efforts in the 2019-20 season, the Warriors will now take on the Class 5A state tournament as the top seed and will battle eighth-seeded Sioux City East in the quarterfinal round Monday, Mar. 2 at 1:30 p.m.