Here is a capsule look at the Iowa Class 2A regional girls basketball tournament with area teams that begin play tonight (all games start at 7 p.m.):
First-round games tonight — Clayton Ridge (2-19) at Postville (4-16); North Cedar (1-20) at Durant (5-16)
Quarterfinals on Feb. 18 — Clayton Ridge/Postville winner at Cascade (22-0); Alburnett (9-11) at Dyersville Beckman (8-13); North Cedar/Durant winner at Iowa City Regina (14-7); Northeast Goose Lake (11-10) at Bellevue (12-9)
Semifinals on Feb. 21 — Top bracket semifinal at Cascade; Bottom bracket semifinal at Iowa City Regina
Regional final — Feb. 26 at Linn-Mar High School
Outlook — Top-ranked Cascade is on an absolute tear this season and extended its home winning streak to an astounding 51 games after beating No. 3 North Linn, 63-40, on Thursday night. The Cougars haven’t lost since a state semifinal setback to Grundy Center last season and are in prime position to return to Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines for the eighth time over the last nine seasons. The stage is set, as Region 5 features no other ranked teams. What makes Cascade so dangerous — besides its always relentless 2-3 zone defense — is its offensive weapons, as no team can just focus on all-state point guard Nicole McDermott (senior, 16.1 ppg). Skylar Dolphin (12.5 ppg) and Abby Welter (10.2 ppg) provide balance while Ally Hoffman (8.7 ppg) has developed into a solid guard as well. And of course you can’t forget Jordan Simon, who comes through in the clutch when needed on offense but mostly stands out on defense, becoming the program’s career blocks leader with more than 60 alone this season. Beckman may get another crack at the Cougars in the regional semifinals behind Kennedy Arens (13.2 ppg). The Blazers lost at Cascade, 60-48, on Dec. 21. And while Bellevue got swept by the Cougars during the regular season, the Comets are always amped for another shot behind Lindsey Banowetz (16 ppg) — but that wouldn’t happen until the regional final. This region seems destined to go to the Cougars, however, as one of the program’s all-time greatest players in McDermott looks to help this team to a second state title in three seasons.