MANSON - Bragging rights will no doubt be on the line here this evening.
Long-time rivals St. Edmond and Manson Northwest Webster will battle in a Class 2A, Region 2 girls basketball quarterfinal.
Action begins at 7 p.m.
Since falling to five-time North Central Conference champion and No. 15 (3A) Algona back on Jan. 28, the 13th-ranked Gaels (18-3 overall) have reeled off four consecutive victories, including a 62-24 rout of Pocahontas Area/Pomeroy-Palmer in their regional opener on Saturday.
"We're kind of expecting (the Cougars) to press us a little bit (defensively) and use a 1-2-2 zone," said SEHS head coach Scott Messerly. "They're awfully good up and down their lineup, so we're going to have play very well over (in Manson) in front of a big crowd and tough environment."
Juniors Lydia Harvey (13.3 points per game), Theresa Doyle (12.3) and Aubreigh Yetmar (9.2) are the focal points in the balanced Gael charge, which averages 57.7 points per game. Doyle, a 5-foot-6 point guard, also delivers a team-high 6.8 assists and 5.1 steals per game.
"Going through our conference schedule, I feel like we've been improving every time out," Messerly said. "We want to play against good teams and will treat (tonight) as just another game.
"We've went into some tough places and won before, and I think we're pretty focused right now. We can go eight or nine deep and have quality athletes with a lot of varsity experience."
No. 12 and defending 2A state runner-up Manson Northwest Webster (20-2) is spearheaded offensively by junior Amanda Bush (13.5), freshman Ellie Herzberg (11.6) and senior Ashley Markert (7.9). Bush, a 5-foot-11 forward, collects a team-best 6.5 rebounds per contest as well, while the 5-foot-7 point guard Herzberg notches 4.1 assists and 4.1 steals a night. The seven-time reigning Twin Lakes Conference champion Cougars advanced with a 68-61 comeback triumph against Clarion-Goldfield.
"We have to keep (the Gaels) off the boards and from driving and kicking out (to their shooters)," MNW head coach Wade Wubben said. "Harvey, Doyle and (Yetmar) combined for 50 points (Saturday), so we need to find a way to contain them."
Wubben and the Cougars are looking to use the familiar surroundings to their advantage.
"It's definitely better than playing on the road," Wubben said. "St. Edmond always seems to shoot much better at home, too."
Seeking their fifth consecutive state tournament appearance, the perennial power Cougars are currently riding a five-game victory streak and limit opponents to only 35.0 points per game. Manson Northwest Webster's lone setbacks this season came at unbeaten and top-ranked (2A) OA-BCIG (61-31) and No. 3 (2A) Carroll Kuemper (63-44).
"We've been a little erratic at times, but I feel we passed a really good test against Clarion," said Wubben. "I was pleased with our effort in the second half and hope that paid dividends."
This evening's winner moves on to face either Estherville-LC (18-4) or Forest City (11-9) in a 2A regional semifinal on Friday at 7 p.m. in Algona.
Contact Josh Meyer at (515) 573-2141, or by e-mail at email@example.com