Now that 40 teams will reach the Iowa girls state basketball tournament (far too many, but that opinion has been well-documented in this space), many perhaps assumed that would automatically mean more qualifiers from The World-Herald’s western Iowa coverage area.

Not the case. Even though the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union has expanded from four to five classes, the organization still is doing its best to make sure the best teams reach the state tournament. And if that’s means getting creative with its regional pairings, so be it.

That again was clear on Monday, as the IGHSAU released its postseason pairings. Although the 54 schools in The World-Herald’s coverage area are spread across 12 regions in the five classes, only four would be favored to reach Des Moines based on state ratings: Sioux City Heelan in Class 4-A, IKM-Manning in 2-A, and Bedford and Ar-We-Va in 1-A.

Of course, there are plenty of teams out there intent on proving the ratings wrong, and many of them are in the newspaper’s latest set of western Iowa ratings. Heelan (Class 5-A/4-A/3-A) and IKM-Manning (Class 2-A/1-A) remain atop their respective divisions. The ratings reflect play through Sunday.

Here’s a quick look at each of the pairings by class:

In Class 5-A, No. 1 Ankeny (all ratings from here on are state ratings) will be heavily favored to emerge from Region 1, where it likely will see either Sioux City West or Sioux City East in the regional final. In Region 8, No. 4 West Des Moines Dowling likewise will be favored to reach the regional final and beat Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln for the state banner.

In Class 4-A, state No. 1 Heelan is the lone rated entry in Region 1, and will be expected to beat Le Mars and Spencer for its sixth state appearance in seven years.

In Region 7 of 4-A, No. 5 Indianola and No. 9 Council Bluffs Lewis Central could be on a collision course for a regional final meeting. And in Region 8, No. 7 Perry likely will get a tough opening-round game with No. 15 Ballard. The winner there could see No. 10 Harlan in the regional final.

Moving to Class 3-A, No. 4 North Polk will be a heavy favorite to come out of Region 8. A Hawkeye Ten Conference team among Red Oak, Clarinda, Atlantic and Shenandoah will reach the regional final.

In Class 2-A, quality WI teams are spread across three regions. Carroll Kuemper is the lone western Iowa entry in Region 2, which has several strong teams, including No. 6 Panorama, No. 9 Manson-Northwest Webster and Fort Dodge St. Edmond.

In Region 7, No. 2 IKM-Manning is the lone state-rated team and will be heavily favored to reach the regional final, where it likely will see either Treynor or Audubon. And in Region 8, six of the 12 squads are located in The World-Herald’s coverage area, but the favorites to reach the regional final are No. 4 Lawton-Bronson and No. 10 Hinton.

Finally in 1-A, No. 1 Bedford could get a challenge in its Region 7 opener from Stanton. Other quality teams with big dreams in the region include Fremont-Mills and Villisca.

In Region 8, No. 5 Ar-We-Va is the clear-cut favorite to reach the regional final, while No. 14 Le Mars Gehlen is a likely candidate to come out of the opposite side and face the Rockets for a trip to Des Moines.

Here are the opening-round pairings for schools in The World-Herald’s western Iowa coverage area, with all 7 p.m. starts unless noted:

Class 5-A

Wednesday, Feb. 13

Region 1

Sioux City North at Sioux City East

Saturday, Feb. 16

Region 1

SC North/SC East winner at Sioux City West

Region 8

CB Thomas Jefferson at CB Abraham Lincoln

Class 4-A

Wednesday, Feb. 13

Region 7

Creston at Glenwood

Region 8

Carroll at Denison-Schleswig

Saturday, Feb. 16

Region 1

Storm Lake/Le Mars winner at Sioux City Heelan

Region 7

Creston/Glenwood winner at CB Lewis Central

Region 8

Carroll/Denison-Schleswig winner at Harlan

Class 3-A

Saturday, Feb. 9

Region 1

Cherokee at OA-BCIG

Sergeant Bluff-Luton at MOC-Floyd Valley

Region 8

Clarinda at Red Oak

Atlantic at Shenandoah

Class 2-A

Saturday, Feb. 9

Region 2

Prairie Valley at Carroll Kuemper

Region 7

AHST vs. Riverside at Griswold

Clarinda Academy at East Mills

Underwood at Griswold

Region 8

West Monona at Westwood

Logan-Magnolia at CB St. Albert

Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto at Missouri Valley

Tuesday, Feb. 12

Region 7

AHST/Riverside winner at Audubon

Clarinda Academy/East Mills winner at Treynor

West Central Valley/Van Meter winner at Nodaway Valley

Underwood/Griswold winner at IKM-Manning

Region 8

Logan-Magnolia/St. Albert winner at Tri-Center

Class 1-A

Thursday, Feb. 7

Region 7

Corning at Lenox

Orient-Macksburg at Villisca

Fremont-Mills at Essex/South Page

Sidney at Nishnabotna

CAM at Stanton

Region 8

Whiting at Kingsley-Pierson

CB Heartland Christian at West Harrison

Boyer Valley at Exira-EHK

Charter Oak-Ute at Woodbine

Tuesday, Feb. 12

Region 7

CAM/Stanton winner at Bedford

Region 8

Charter Oak-Ute/Woodbine winner at Ar-We-Va

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