By RON MALY
This is getting to be a habit for coach Joe Sigrist and his Valley High School girls' basketball players.
"It's the first time in history that Valley has made it to the state tournament two years in a row," Sigrist told me after his No. 1-ranked Tigers soared past Urbandale, 70-51, tonight in a Regional championship game at the Bill Coldiron Fieldhouse in West Des Moines.
"I couldn't be more proud of these girls. After playing in the state tournament last season, they were battle-tested."
Sigrist has done wonders with the Valley program, and was clearly disappointed that the Tigers lost to Southeast Polk in the opening round of the class 5-A tournament last season.
So he again set goals, and his 2014-2015 team responded brilliantly.
Valley now takes a 21-2 record into a 1:30 p.m. game March 4 against Mason City [15-8] in the 5-A tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines.
The winner plays either Iowa City West [21-2] or Southeast Polk [17-6] at noon March 6.
Unlike what happened in its first Regional game of the 2015 tournament, Valley came charging out of the gate against Urbandale.
No sluggishness this time.
The Tigers broke to a 26-9 lead after the first 8 minutes, then made it 40-16 at halftime.
After that, there was no doubt which team would be going to the state tournament.
"I'd say that was our best first quarter of the season," Sigrist said.
Grace Vander Weide scored 10 of Valley's points in the opening quarter, and the 6-foot senior finished with 19.
Now it's important that the Tigers keep their edge in the time between now and when they take the floor at The Well next week.