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Iowa signee Megan Meyer: Take the win and move onto Thursday Dargan Southard, msouthard@gannett.com

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Planted near the front of Mason City’s large cheering section at the state girls' basketball tournament were three Hawkeyes cheering on the one-in-waiting. Megan Meyer appreciated the love.  

Despite having a game at Nebraska Monday night, current Iowa players Hannah Stewart, Kathleen Doyle and older sister Makenzie Meyer were inside Wells Fargo Arena on Tuesday to support Megan, a 2019 Iowa signee, in her final state tournament. Doyle and the Meyer sisters will all be teammates in Iowa City next season.  

“Makenzie texted me they were all coming,” Megan Meyer said. “It meant a lot. That was really cool.”

The Mason City standout had 21 points in Tuesday’s 55-49 Class 4A quarterfinal win over Waverly-Shell Rock. It wasn’t one of her jaw-dropping performances that have become so common in recent years, but Meyer’s leadership and poise is pivotal at this crucial juncture.

“She’s obviously been here before and played a ton as a freshman. She was here last year, too,” Mason City coach Curt Klaahsen said. “So I think the kids know that she’s going to make the right decision and make the right plays.

“She takes a lot of the ball-handling burden and the scoring burden. That lets the rest of the girls play a little bit more free and loose. We’re very fortunate to have her.”  

Although not so much Tuesday, the Mo-Hawks’ fire-away offense has remnants of what Meyer will run at Iowa. Entering the state tournament, Mason City led the state with 221 made 3-pointers and ranked fifth with 589 attempted treys.

Meyer went just 1-for-6 from deep and 2-for-9 at the charity stripe — two stat lines that look like aberrations when considering her season totals (41 percent from behind the arc, 81 percent at the line).

With top-seeded Marion up next, Meyer and Mason City know the margin for error tightens.

For now, she could smile. She got a glimpse of what’s ahead with a peek in the stands.

“I’m super excited about next year,” Meyer said. “I’m glad that they’re so supportive.”   

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Muscle flexing up top  

For as much as the top seeds were challenged in the Class 5A quarterfinals, it soon became clear Class 4A wasn’t going to start similarly. Marion made sure of that.

The top-seeded Indians took another step toward their repeat bid, throttling No. 8 Cedar Rapids Xavier 70-35 inside Wells Fargo Arena.

Relentless defensive intensity buoyed the blowout. Xavier didn’t crack 30 points until midway through the fourth. It shot 12-for-51 from deep and had 12 turnovers. Marion limited the Saints to two single-digit scoring quarters.

“Whenever you start out strong defensively,” sophomore Ella Van Weelden said, “it’s just momentum for the rest of the fame.”  

This team has just been wrecking people since Marion suffered its first loss to Iowa City West on Feb. 2. Since then, there have been wins by 37, 26, 31, 58, 31, 30 and now 35.

That’s dominance.

“We do have a lot of experience, which helps us,” Marion coach Corby Laube said. “We started a little shaky — down 5-0 — but I think that’s the experience factor. Girls stayed level-headed and kept focusing on the things we’ve taught them to do. Play defense, scrap and try to hustle. We try to pay attention to details, and you could tell in the end, they stayed focused.”

The semifinals will see Marion get Mason City and Meyer, who’s bound to have a better shooting night than Tuesday. But it may not matter, the way the Indians are flowing right now. It's hard to see the upset bug biting Marion.  

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50 GREATEST: The Register names its top all-time girls' basketball players

Buoying the bench

While star power often dominates the state tournament, many teams need that unexpected jolt from a role player or reserve on their title journey.

That’s what No. 2 Center Point-Urbana received Tuesday, with a team-high 19 points from freshman Ryley Goebel in its 67-31 win over West Marshall. That total was exactly half her season scoring average (9.5 points per game).

Goebel missed as many free throws (1-for-3) as shots from the field (9-for-11). Her 19 points tied a season-high, set way back on Dec. 4 against Maquoketa. CPU probably can’t count on a bench lift like that every night, but this one arrived at a helpful time.    

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Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.

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