Round 2 of the Jag-Hawk basketball showdowns will be held on Friday at Centennial, where the Jaguars will try to complete a sweep of both the boys’ and girls’ series for the third time in four seasons and for the fourth time ever.
Centennial dominated both of the games at Ankeny back in December, resulting in a 19-point win for the boys and a deceiving seven-point victory for the girls.
Can the Jaguars complete the four-game sweep?
Here’s a closer look at both matchups:
Coach: Dru McAnelly
Record: 4-9, 9-9
Current ranking: 13th in Class 5A by the Iowa Girls’ High School Athletic Union
Streak: Won 1
Leading scorer: Savannah Gage (16.9)
Leading rebounder: Jayla Williams (6.0)
Coach: Scott DeJong
Record: 8-5, 13-5
Current ranking: 6th in Class 5A by the Iowa Girls’ High School Athletic Union
Streak: Lost 1
Leading scorer: Kennedy White (10.6)
Leading rebounder: Jaeden Pratt (8.4)
First meeting: Centennial won at Ankeny, 59-52, on Dec. 20
All-time series: Centennial leads, 18-1
Analysis: The two teams are coming into Friday’s contest on different emotional levels. Ankeny ended a two-game skid with an impressive 59-52 win at Waukee Northwest a week ago, while the Jaguars let a seven-point lead slip away in the final 3 minutes at No. 2 Johnston and eventually dropped a 66-59 decision in overtime. How will Centennial react after stewing about that loss for the last several days? The Jaguars will again try to slow down Ankeny sophomore Savannah Gage, who has been playing at an all-state level for most of the season. Gage had 16 points in the first meeting against Centennial, but many of her points came after the outcome had already been decided. The Jaguars led by as many as 22 points before Ankeny closed the gap to single digits in the fourth quarter. Gage has made 34 straight free throws over the last 11 games, but the loss to Centennial was the only game during that stretch where she did not attempt a free throw. She is now shooting 91.4 percent for the season (53-of-58) at the line, which ranks second in Class 5A and third in the state. Gage will need to find a way to get to the charity stripe on Friday, because that will be the easiest way for her to score some points against the Jaguars’ stingy defense.
Prediction: Centennial 57-48. The Jaguars showed in the loss at Johnston that the gap between the defending state champions and some of the other elite teams in the CIML has narrowed. Centennial led almost the entire way and was one play away from pulling off the upset. In the first meeting at Ankeny, the Jaguars shot 50 percent from the field (23-of-46) and outrebounded their rival by a 38-24 margin. Sophomore Mya Crawford was all over the court, grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds–nine of them on the offensive end. Ankeny is a better team than its record shows, but the Jaguars are simply on another level right now. The Hawkettes were able to defeat Centennial last February for the first time ever, but that win came on their home court. Doing it again–this time on the road–will be a monumental task.
Coach: Brandt Carlson
Record: 4-9, 6-11
Current ranking: Unranked
Streak: Lost 2
Leading scorer: Carson Johnson (13.9)
Leading rebounder: Lio Aguirre (6.4)
Coach: Bob Fontana
Record: 7-5, 11-5
Current ranking: 8th in Class 4A by the Iowa High School Athletic Association
Streak: Won 2
Leading scorer: Luke Winkel (16.8)
Leading rebounder: Chase Schutty (7.1)
First meeting: Centennial won at Ankeny, 65-46, on Dec. 20
All-time series: Centennial leads, 10-9
Analysis: It wouldn’t be unprecedented for the Hawks to go on the road and avenge the earlier loss to Centennial. There were two other times in the history of the rivalry that the road team won both meetings. In the 2016-17 season, the Hawks posted a 56-55 win at Centennial on a go-ahead free throw with 2 seconds left by Drew Maschoff, who finished with 24 points. The Jaguars later overcame 31 points from Maschoff to win the rematch at Ankeny, 67-54. Then, the following year, Centennial posted a 55-52 victory at Ankeny as Hunter Strait scored the last four points of the game for the Jaguars. The Hawks later traveled across town and let a 21-point lead slip away before emerging with a 56-52 win, despite 32 points from Strait. Will history repeat itself? Ankeny has been unpredictable in an up-and-down season–the Hawks suffered back-to-back losses to sub-.500 teams Urbandale and Johnston last month before knocking off then-No. 3 Waukee, 56-51, in a stunning upset. Which Ankeny team will show up on Friday? Centennial has been much more consistent. Four of the Jaguars’ five losses came to three of the top four teams in Class 4A–Waukee, Waukee Northwest and Valley. Junior guard Luke Winkel poured in 30 points in the first meeting at Ankeny, and he scored a career-high 31 on Monday as the Jaguars tuned up for the game with a 71-55 victory at Cedar Rapids Prairie in a non-conference contest.
Prediction: Centennial 64-52. The Jaguars had 14 offensive rebounds in the earlier meeting, when they outrebounded Ankeny by a 36-22 margin. The Hawks will have to be more competitive on the boards in order to have a chance to win. They will also need a big game from junior guard Carson Johnson, who scored 15 points in the loss to Centennial–but eight of them came in the fourth quarter. Johnson injured his ankle during a loss to Dowling Catholic on Jan. 24, but was able to play three days later and had 15 points in a loss to Waukee Northwest. After a week off, he could be closer to 100 percent. Still, the Jaguars have taken care of business against the teams below them in the CIML Conference standings–with the exception of a loss at Dowling on Jan. 10. Centennial is also playing for a No. 1 seed in a substate tournament, and a win would move the Jaguars one step closer to achieving that goal.