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Chad Specht wasn't quite sure what was awaiting him when he took over as head coach for the Central DeWitt girls basketball program this year.

The Sabers were coming off a 7-14 season and had to replace seven seniors, four of whom were the team's top scorers.

Whatever growing pains that were expected have yet to be encountered as the Sabers have started off 4-0 and are ranked 14th in Class 4A heading into Friday's game against Independence.

"I didn't know what to expect," Specht said. "It's been a pleasant surprise. We've obviously got a ton of work to do yet. We've got lots of goals and aspirations to hit, and we're just scratching the surface right now."

Specht used to be the boys basketball coach at Maquoketa. He left in 2015 and became a girls basketball assistant with the Sabers under then-head coach Carl Small.

When Small stepped down following last season, Specht took over and has enjoyed the new role.

"It keeps me young," Specht said. "I'm on the court every day. I'm with these kids and a sport that I love, and I love being around it."

Small still serves as an assistant, helping ease the transition, which, so far, seems to be a smooth one. Defensively, the Sabers are holding teams to 35 points per game, helping an offense that is still finding its way, averaging 46 points per game.

"We're always striving for good balance, we're always striving for good ball movement, and our points per game right now isn't where we'd like it to be," Specht said. "But at the same time, if you can achieve what you're doing on the other end of the court, that will put you in a place to win games."

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the season is who is stepping up for the Sabers. Freshman Taylor Veach is leading the team with 13 points per game and classmate Allison Meadows is adding 8.7 points, providing an early spark to the roster.

That was a big concern early for Specht, how the youth on the team would blend with the older veterans. So far, so good as six players are averaging at least four points per game and the Sabers are averaging 8.7 assists per game.

"If we're going to do this, we've got to make sure that we can meld together as a team," Specht said. "We've got to be able to meld the older girls with the younger girls and I can't tell you how happy I am with the older girls and how this has all worked out." 

The last time the Sabers started 4-0 was during the 2010-11 season, when Central DeWitt started the year 9-0. That season finished with a state semifinal appearance, but Specht knows it's far too early to be thinking about trips to Des Moines.

"It's one game at a time, one day at a time for us," Specht said. "We're still very young, and we're still learning every day, but man there's just been really good efforts and attitudes from all the kids at all levels."

First to 1,000: Wilton's Kortney Drake reached the 1,000-point mark in her career Tuesday night, scoring 24 points in the Beavers' 79-54 win over Durant. Drake currently has 1,013 points for her career, but she won't be alone in the 1,000-point club for long.

Teammate Emily Lange scored 38 points in the win and now has 973 in her career. Lange is averaging 24.2 points per game and could reach the mark with another outburst Friday against Monticello, or Tuesday against West Branch.

There is a possibility they could be joined by Aubrey Putman if Wilton's post player puts together a strong senior year. Putman currently has 734 career points but has also been a force on the glass with 503 career rebounds.

Streaking Comets: Central DeWitt isn't the only team off to a strong start. There are still eight undefeated teams in the Quad-Cities area on both sides of the river, including a Bellevue team that has grabbed two impressive wins to start the season.

The Class 2A No. 11 Comets are 5-0 and have posted consecutive wins over ranked opponents. Bellevue beat Class 1A No. 15 Bellevue Marquette 52-49 last Friday, then topped Class 2A No. 5 Cascade 50-42 Tuesday night.

Alyssa Rubel led the Comets with 14 points in the win over Cascade, a big step after averaging 4.8 points heading into the game. Senior Giana Michels leads the Comets on the season with 15.8 points per game while junior Lindsey Banowetz is adding 13 points.

The Comets are off to their best start since 2011, when they finished 25-1 and reached the state tournament.


Sports reporter for the Quad-City Times