Just a little more than two years ago, the Davenport North girls basketball program was saddled with a 42-game conference losing streak.
Now, the Wildcats are on the cusp of their first outright Mississippi Athletic Conference title in school history.
Class 5A ninth-ranked Davenport North (17-3, 13-1 MAC) secured at least a share of the league championship last Friday with a victory at Muscatine.
It can claim the outright crown at 6 p.m. today at home with a win against Clinton or a victory Thursday at Davenport Assumption. Coach Ron O'Brien's team beat the River Queens 70-31 on Jan. 5.
"This has been a goal of ours all season, something North has never done," guard Jacionna Stowers said. "It'll give us the momentum we need going into regionals and toward state."
North's best conference record was 13-3 in the Mississippi 8 in the school's first year of existence in 1985. Since then, last season's 12-4 mark and tie for third place was the closest thing to rival that.
The Wildcats are the highest-scoring offense in 5A at 67.7 points per game and shoot a conference-best 47 percent from the field. Iowa recruit Jinaya Houston, Stowers and Paige Bradford, who all return next season, account for nearly 50 points per game.
"This group has a good level of confidence about them," O'Brien said. "We're just a little smarter, a little wiser, a little stronger this year. They have a lot of faith in each other."
Postseason pairings: The Iowa High School Athletic Association released its district and substate pairings for Class 3A and 4A boys basketball teams Monday.
In 4A Substate 4, Davenport Central (13-4) snared the top seed and hosts the winner of Dubuque Hempstead (7-10) and Western Dubuque (10-9) on Feb. 26. North Scott (12-5) is the two seed and awaits the winner of Dubuque Senior (10-6) and Davenport North (4-13) on that same night.
In Substate 5, top-ranked Pleasant Valley (17-0) is the No. 1 seed and hosts the winner of Bettendorf (9-8) and Davenport West (6-12). Second-seeded Muscatine (12-5) plays the Clinton (9-8) and Burlington (0-17) winner.
Locations have not been determined yet for the two substate finals.
In Class 3A District 8, Maquoketa will host a doubleheader on Feb. 22. Central DeWitt and Solon are the opener at 6:30 p.m. followed by Assumption and Maquoketa at 8 p.m. Winners meet in the district final Feb. 25 at Clinton.
Rareified air: With four regular-season games remaining, Muscatine sophomore Joe Wieskamp is the MAC's leading scorer at 21.4 points per game — 39 total points ahead of PV senior Will Carius.
Wieskamp, an Iowa recruit with 773 career points, was the league's top scorer as a freshman at 18.6 points per contest.
Prior to Wieskamp, the last non-senior to pace the MAC in scoring was North Scott's Brandon Voss (19.5 ppg. his junior year in 2009-10). The MAC never has had a boys basketball player lead the league in scoring all four years.
1,000 in sight: The MAC already has had two girls basketball players eclipse 1,000 career points this season in North's Houston and Stowers.
West sophomore Chrislyn Carr has an opportunity to get there with at least three games left in the season. Carr, averaging a MAC-best 23.5 points per game, has 922 career points heading into tonight's game at North Scott.
Carr is expected to become the Falcons' all-time leading scorer next year. Heather Best holds the mark at 1,162 points.