The holiday break will soon be over for North Iowa students, and as we all sadly put away the holiday decorations, leave our warm houses and trudge our way back to our offices and schools for daily responsibilities, there is at least one thing to look forward to.
On Friday, area teams will begin the new decade with some intriguing match-ups. Here are a few of the games to keep an eye on for basketball fans in the Mason City/Clear Lake area.
Mason City at Waukee
After starting the season at 2-0, the Mohawks' boys team stumbled a bit going into the holiday break, with four straight losses.
As conference play kicks into gear, things will only get tougher.
On Friday, Mason City will open 2020 with a tough task, as it takes on undefeated and No. 1 ranked Waukee on the road. Waukee is led by two top scorers, juniors Tucker DeVries and Payton Sandfort. The two are averaging 21 and 20.6 points per game, respectively, while also coming in as the team's top two rebounders.
Mason City's leading scorer is Jeffrey Skogen, with 16.7 points per game.
Through its first five games, Waukee has averaged 68.4 points, with an average margin of victory of 22.6. At the same time, in its past four losses, Mason City has given up an average of 68.25 points, with an average margin of defeat of 14.75. If Mason City can play a competitive game against the Warriors in its first game of 2020, it will be an encouraging sight going into conference play.
On the girls side, the No. 8-ranked Mohawks will take on the Warriors, who are ranked No. 6 in class 5A.
The Mohawks lost their last two game to Urbandale and Southeast Polk, but hope to begin the new year with a big win. Anna Deets is by far the Mohawks' most dominant player, with 187 points on the year, for an average of 23.4 per game, along with a team-high 41.1 percent shooting average, and the second-most rebounds on the team.
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The girls game will be at 6:15 p.m., with the boys game to follow at 7:45 p.m.
Clear Lake vs. Algona
Both games this Friday between Clear Lake and Algona will feature some very talented teams hoping to maintain strong starts to the season.
On the boys side, the game between No. 7-ranked Algona and Clear Lake will be a fast-paced match-up between two teams with just one combined loss. The Bulldogs come in with a perfect 6-0 record, their most recent win a 66-42 win over Iowa Falls-Alden on Dec. 20. Against Clear Lake, Algona will face one of its toughest challenges yet.
Wyatt Wegener and Collin Bleich lead the Bulldogs in scoring, with Wegener also pacing the team with 46 rebounds. Wegener is an athletic presence who should give Clear Lake plenty of challenges all over the floor.
Andrew Formanek leads the one-loss Lions with 105 total points, and is tied with Carson Toebe at 17.5 points per game.
See more on the girls game in this Friday's Globe Gazette.
The girls game will be played at 6:15 p.m., with the boys game at 7:45 p.m.
Newman Catholic at West Hancock
The undefeated West Hancock girls basketball team is ranked No. 2 in the state in Class 1A, and looks primed for another state title run in 2020, after coming up just short in 2019.
Junior Rachel Leerar leads the team with 154 points on the season, for an average of 19.3 points per game. Senior Amanda Chizek is the team's top rebounder, with 76. On Friday, the Eagles will face 5-3 Newman Catholic, who has won its past two games by 38 and 32 points.
The Knights will have a tough time against the loaded Eagles offense, which has averaged 71.25 points through seven games. West Hancock has had a dominant year so far, and with their stars currently playing at an elite level, the Eagles will most likely come away with another solid win.
On the boys side, the 4-3 Knights will play the 4-3 Eagles at 7:30 p.m. Sammy Kratz leads the Knights with 11.6 points points per game, while Joe Smith has a team-high 12 points per contest for the Eagles.