Top-seeded Warriors battle state tournament action today

Andrew Brown - Sports
Megan Earney of Waukee against Ames during the regional final. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRYCE MUSGROVE

After what has seemed like forever, the big dance is finally here in the Iowa high school girls state basketball tournament. Among the eight teams vying for title hopes lies the Waukee High School girls basketball team.

For the first time in several years, the state tournament staple Warriors will enter as the top seed in the Class 5A bracket. This will be their seventh straight state tournament appearance and 13th overall trip to the big dance in the past 14 seasons.

As they grace yet another state tournament, the top-seeded Warriors will battle up against a surging Sioux City East team that bested perennial power Dowling Catholic in Des Moines to arrive at Wells Fargo Arena. The Black Raiders are entering into their fifth ever state tournament appearance in school history. On paper, the match-up looks well in favor of the Waukee Warriors who lead in nearly every statistical category. The Warrior girls (21-2) head into their state tournament opener averaging a whopping 70.2 points per contest marking the second-highest mark in the Class 5A state tournament field. Their mark of 39.6 percent from three-point range also ranks second among Class 5A tournament teams, bested only by Southeast Polk’s 40.6 percent. Waukee’s 14.2 steals per game average

One thing Waukee has never done was to overlook their opponents and despite coming in as an eighth-seed, Sioux City East earned their way to the big stage on the heels of 42 percent shooting from the floor. Where the Raiders have earned their biggest impact has been from the free-throw line where they average over eleven made free-throws per contest, tied for second-best among the Class 5A state tournament field. They’ve also drawn some of the most fouls on average among tournament teams.

These two squads aren’t that familiar with each other, having played just once since 2015. That came in postseason action and helped propel Waukee to one of many state tournament appearances. For the Warriors defensively, a big key will be targeting senior sharpshooter Nyamer Diew. The senior is the lifeblood of the Black Raiders leading the way in both points (16.9 points per game) and total rebounds (177). Diew also is a strong presence in the assist department, averaging nearly 3 assists per contest. Also on the watch list should be fellow senior Katlynn Tucker. Tucker’s mark of 59 made three-point shots are third-best among Class 5A tournament players.

The battle between Waukee and Sioux City East will begin from Wells Fargo Arena at 1:30 p.m.