Area's best: Lorenzen, Ostwinkle

By: Jeff Linder

Haley Lorenzen is all right. Honestly.

"Bad things happen sometimes, but you can't dwell on it too long," Lorenzen said Tuesday. "It's just not healthy.

"When something like this happens, you've got to let it motivate you to do better things."

The victim of a bad performace at a very bad time — the state semifinals — Lorenzen has chosen to move on and remember the season for what it was.

"It was a great season," Lorenzen said. "Other than the ending, I wouldn't have changed it for anything. I loved this team."

A 6-foot-3 post bound for the University of Florida, Lorenzen is the 2014 Gazette/KCRG girls' basketball player of the year.

She headlines the annual 10-player team and is one of five returnees — the others are Dani Franklin of Cedar Rapids Washington, Paige Greiner of Williamsburg, Nicole Miller of North Linn and Blaire Thomas of Waterloo West.

The remainder of the team consists of City High's Kiera Washpun and Washington's Aleena Hobbs, as well state scoring leader Shelby Hembera of Cedar Valley Christian, Amanda Ollinger of Cedar Rapids Jefferson and Arika Wooldridge of Center Point-Urbana.

Amy Ostwinkle, who piloted Western Dubuque to the Class 4A final, is the coach of the year.

The Gatorade state player of the year, Lorenzen averaged 20.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game as City High finished 24-1. The Little Hawks were No. 1 in the final Class 5A state rankings for the second year in a row.

She shot 59.5 percent from the floor.

"Every game teaches you something, and the last game taught me a lot," Lorenzen said, referring to a state semifinal loss to West Des Moines Dowling in which she shot 3 of 14 from the field, 2 of 7 from the line.

"I've got to do a better job keeping my confidence up in the tough games," she said.

Lorenzen will leave for Florida in late June. She'll major in interior design and bolster the front line of the Gators, who advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament this season.

Ostwinkle's sixth season at Western Dubuque was a memorable one. Picked ninth in the Wamac in The Gazette's preseason predictions, the Bobcats instead shared the title with Williamsburg.

Back-to-back convincing wins over Mount Vernon and Center Point-Urbana early in the season set the tone.

"We knew coming into the season that we had the work ethic that we needed to be successful," Ostwinkle said. "When you're starting three new guards, you never know how it's going to go.

"But early on, the girls realized, 'Hey, we can do this.' "

Led by the young, talented front line of Megan Maahs and Rose Simon-Ressler, the Bobcats went on a 15-game winning streak. After a loss to Dubuque Hempstead to end the regular season, the Bobcats qualified for state for the first time since 1987.

At Des Moines, they surprised Sioux City Heelan and Ballard, then played No. 1 Harlan to the wire in a 55-51 defeat.

Ostwinkle, 31, played at Maquoketa Valley and UNI as Amy Helle, then served as an assistant to Mike Sconsa at Cascade before taking the head job in Epworth.

"To see (Sconsa) lead, the way he ran practices and his level of intensity, he pushed me to go to the next level," said Ostwinkle, who owns a career mark of 81-56 and welcomes back three starters for 2014-15.

Each of the 10 all-area selections were INA all-staters. Thumbnails on the rest of the team:

* Franklin (a first-teamer in 5A) and Hobbs (second team) led Washington to an 18-5 record and the MVC Valley Division title. A Valparaiso signee, Franklin averaged 22.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Hobbs added 16.4 points and 6.6 boards per game.

* Thomas was part of an ultra-talented West team (three Division-I signees) that advanced to the 5A semifinals and finished 22-3. The Iowa State recruit was a first-team all-state pick and averaged 15.2 points per game.

* Washpun added 14.4 points, 5.0 assists and 4.1 steals per game and earned 5A second-team honors. She scored 31 points in the Little Hawks' state-quarterfinal win over Cedar Rapids Kennedy.

* Ollinger also was a 5A second-teamer, tallying 18.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. The J-Hawks were 9-13 this year but figure to make a big jump next season. Ollinger has offers from Iowa and Drake, and is an excellent volleyball player.

* Greiner and Wooldridge led their respective teams to the state tournament in 3A and earned first-team all-state honors in that class. A Drake recruit, Greiner averaged 16.1 points and 4.2 assists for Williamsburg (22-3); Wooldridge posted 18.0 points and 7.4 rebounds per contest for CPU (18-7).

* North Linn (24-2) made its first state-tournament appearance in 17 years — and advanced to the 2A semifinals — behind Miller, a repeat all-state first-teamer who averaged 25.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 4.1 steals per game.

* Hembera earned a first-team all-state spot in 1A despite her team's 1-21 record. Here's why: she led the state in scoring (33.2 points per game) and rebounding (16.4 per game). Hembera accounted for 89 percent of her team's points.

Four of the 10 all-area picks will return next season. Miller and Hembera are juniors; Ollinger and Wooldridge are sophomores.
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