It may seem like a given, the way this IKM-Manning girls basketball snowball is speeding downhill, gathering momentum.
But the Wolves insist that every state tournament appearance is cherished and not taken for granted.
“It’s always exciting,” IKM-Manning coach Gene Rasmussen said. “I’m really happy for these seniors to get another shot to see what they can do down there. They’ve worked really hard over the last four years. We’ll go back to work and see what we can do.”
Third-rated IKM-Manning (23-1) makes its fourth state showing in five years at 10 a.m. Tuesday when it meets No. 13 Maquoketa Valley (19-5) in a Class 2-A quarterfinal at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
IKM, which is Irwin-Kirkman-Manilla, and Manning joined forces athletically in the summer of 2008. Prior to that, Rasmussen took IKM teams to state in 2005, 2006 and 2007 — winning it all in 2006 — meaning he’s taken a team to state seven of the last nine seasons. IKM-Manning won the 2-A crown in 2009.
This year’s crew has the ability to make a run at a 2-A title. Senior Kaylee Blake, a 6-foot-1 post player heading to Briar Cliff, averages 18 points and 6.9 rebounds while shooting 58.7 percent from the field. When Blake has an aggressive mindset, Rasmussen said the sky’s the limit.
“The only person that can stop her is herself,” he said.
The Wolves’ primary ball handler is 5-8 sophomore Morgan Muhlbauer, who averages 12.1 points, 5.0 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 3.6 steals. She kickstarts plenty of fastbreak opportunities with her defense.
“She gets her hands on a lot of basketballs,” Rasmussen said. “She’s got that long reach. She does a great job defensively for us.”
Kali Rasmussen, a 5-5 sophomore who is the coach’s daughter, leads all classes with 80 3-pointers. She’s shooting an outstanding 42.6 percent from long range and also averages 12.1 points.
The Wolves will face a Maquoketa Valley squad that has won 10 of its last 11. Its top player has been 5-7 senior guard Renee Huber, who averages 13.1 points and nearly three steals per game. Two of their regular-season losses came to 3-A qualifier Cascade.
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