DES MOINES — It appears the North Scott girls basketball team is peaking at the right time.
Following a loss to Pleasant Valley, the Lancers have won six straight games by an average of 23 points, including a 56-37 win over Denison-Schleswig in Tuesday's Class 4A state quarterfinal.
The second-ranked Lancers hope to keep this run going in Thursday night's semifinal game against No. 6 Sioux City Heelan.
"We really settled into our roles and we know what we can do," junior Presley Case said. "Personally, I know I can run the ball up the floor and I know that the girls will hit the shots so when I pass the ball, I have confidence in them, they have confidence in themselves and they hit the shot."
Case was all over the court in the win over the Monarchs, scoring eight points and dishing seven assists while also grabbing two steals.
As she's developed into a floor general, the Lancers have found another level of play, and it has them two wins from their second state title in three years.
"She has just taken a step back, and she's being a complete team player and sharing the ball with the girls that need it," head coach and Presley's father TJ Case said. "She handles it for us extremely well, and she's setting a lot of girls up. Her dribble-drive attacks are getting a lot of people open looks."
It's been a season of ups and downs for Presley, whose offense has largely been predicated on shooting 3-pointers, with over 300 attempts in her career. She shot 32.2 percent from behind the arc as a sophomore but is shooting 27 percent from the 3-point line this season, including some tough performances in that loss to the Spartans as well as to Rock Island.
However, those setbacks might have been just what the junior needed. Case has recently focused not so much on shooting the ball, but instead on setting up her teammates and playing well in other ways.
Since the loss to the Spartans, she's averaging 10.5 points, 5.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds and four steals per game. On the season, Case is averaging 10.8 points, 4.9 assists, four rebounds and 3.6 steals.
She has 112 assists on the season, passing former Lancer and 1986 Miss Basketball Jenni Fitzgerald's single-season mark of 107 assists in the win over the Monarchs. She has 264 assists in her career.
"That was a big part of my learning," she said. "We just settled into what we should do and what we know that we can do. I know I'm not the best shooter.
"I can be, but so far I haven't shown that, so I've settled into assists, and the girls are going to hit shots."
Case and her father are close, and at times this season it was tough to reconcile what has been such a big part of Presley's game with what she needed to do to best help the Lancers win.
"We always have a conversation, and sometimes it gets a little bit heated because she's me," TJ said. "Her and I are super close, and so we just had to take a step back and say, maybe that 3 thing isn't her thing right now. She spent a lot of time working with some of our managers, (local basketball skills coach) Jordan Delp spent a lot of time trying to dial that in, but she understands that her role right now is to be the floor leader and set people up."
And though she's not attempting as many shots, Case has also improved her 3-point shooting, 32.1 percent over the last six games, up from 26.8 percent over the first 17.
It's just another weapon that the Crusaders will have to be aware of in today's semifinal.
"She's worked really hard to fit into a role here, and it's not easy being the coach's kid by any means," TJ said. "She gets it at her a lot of different directions so I'm just proud of her."