For a preview of just how good the Raccoon River Conference will be, just check out the preseason rankings released by the IGHSAU last week.
The class 4A list included Ballard coming in at No. 4 on the list. At No. 14 was Bonduarnat-Farrar. At No. 15 is Boone, the third of the eight-team Raccoon River Conference teams.
Still that list doesn’t seem to capture just how strong the RRC might be in 2019-2020. Several of the teams are returning key parts of their offense and defensive plans from last season.
One thing that is promising about the returning players in the RRC this year is what the conference didn’t lose.
Of the top-10 scorers in the conference last year, only two of them graduated. That leaves the window open for scoring stars to continue to build off what they started last season.
Carlisle’s Molly Hoekstra was able to lead the confernce in scoring when she added 384 points to her totals a season ago. She will be a senior this year.
Another junior from last year was ADM’s Abbie Hlas, who scored 351 points a season ago, while hitting nearly 47 percent of her field goals that she attempted.
Avery Fried, a Bondurant-Farrar junior this season, finished her sophomore year with 327 points. She was good on 45 percent of her field goals. She also connected on 37 percent of her three point field goals.
Carroll’s own Ella Collison graced the top-10 in scoring last season. Overall Collison finished eighth on the conference scoring list with 277 points. Collison will be a junior this year.
Like the scoring list, the rebounding list of leaders from last year were dominated by underclassmen. That means that teams will have a chance to have an impact in the rebounding game again this year.
Hoekstra was the second-leading rebounder in the conference a year ago (the leading rebounder was Winterset’s Madison Wauters who was a senior). Overall the current Carlisle senior brought in 170 total rebounds, including 97 defensive rebounds last season.
ADM featured now senior, Delaney Bertman who brought in 152 total rebounds last year. With one fewer rebound was Carlisle’s Sydney Berg who finished her sophomore year with 151 rebounds.
Like she did in scoring, Collison from Carroll was the leading rebounder for the Tigers last year. Overall Collison finished with 110 total rebounds. She evenly split her time rebounding with 55 on offense and 55 on defense.
Breaking down the RRC teams:
Carroll: Carroll was a team in nearly every since of the word last year. Although they had a standout star in Collison (leading the team in all statistical categories except for blocks) the rest of the starters were pretty even in terms of what they brought to the floor. The Tigers will have to do without a few seniors from last year, but nearly all of the pieces of last year’s puzzle will return. Throughout the season last year the Tigers defense started to play like a brick wall, while their offense moved the ball around the court to gain the open shot. Carroll showed some of their mettle in their first game this year when they had a come-from-behind win over Webster City on opening night.
Ballard: The Bombers were 20-3 a season ago, and the only team in the class 4A top-five teams that didn’t make the State tournament last year. What led the Bombers through their season last year was Josie Fleischmann who finished with a total of 250 points. She shot the ball a lot and because of that suffered in her field goal percentage (39.2 percent) and three point percentage (34.3 percent). Still her scoring numbers led the Bombers. Helping the Bombers was their double threat ability with Brooke Loewe who had 248 total points. Like Fleischmann, she put up a lot of shots. The Bombers had a lot of shooters, which helped them nearly make the State tournament.
Bondurant-Farrar: The Blujays will lose one senior from last year, and that will help the Bluejays finish a few games ahead of .500 on the season. Their year ended with a game against Ballard. However the Bluejays return their top-four scorers and top four rebounders from last season. The Bluejays seemed to show that their No. 14 ranking to start the year was worth it as they started their season with a 10-point win over Atlantic.
Boone: After a season where the Toreadors finished 13-9 overall Boone will try to repeat that same success this season. They have a good chance after losing just three seniors, and two seniors that had any sort of a significant impact on the team. Madelyn Danner graduated, and Boone loses their second leading scorer and fourth-best rebounder from a year ago. However their top scorer, Emma Dighton. She also led the team in steals and was second in terms of assists. Boone started their season on a sour note, falling to Webster City in their first game of the season.
ADM: The ADM Tigers finished last year with nine losses on the season, but last year they featured four seniors, four sophomores, five freshmen and two juniors on their roster. ADM could be a dangerous team in conference play. The Tigers will return three of their top-five scorers from last season, including the pair of Hlas and Bertman who combined to score over 600 points a season ago. In two games this season the Tigers are 2-0.
Carlisle: Of the 10 wins that the Wildcats compiled last season, they seemed to come in clumps of three at a time. After winning their first game the Wildcats went on to win three of their next four. After a five game slide the Wildcats won their next three, before dropping their next two. They then went on to win three straight, before finishing off the season with back-to-back-to-back losses. The Wildcats had two seniors that they lost to graduation, but neither player were in the top-5 on their team for rebounds or points.
Winterset: After going 9-12 overall on the season last year and graduated five seniors. Worse yet for the Huskies, of their five seniors lost to graduation were three of their five-best leading scorers from last year, and three of their best six rebounders. Bridget Stover is one of the leading players returning for the Huskies. She scored 84 points last year and had 109 rebounds. Winterset started this season with a win, but fell in a road contest against Dallas Center-Grimes.
Perry: The Perry Bluejays won just one game a year ago, when they bested Greene County on Nov. 27. From there they played in numerous 35-point rule games and ended their season on Feb. 13. The Bluejays featured one senior last year, who was the second-best scorer for the Bluejays, and the top rebounder. Molly Lutmer is a star for the Bluejays. She scored 296 points for Perry a season ago. She had 49 steals, six blocks and 21 assists, all of which led her team. This season the Bluejays started with a win over Des Moines North, before falling to Newton.