Cascade’s 2019-20 varsity girls’ basketball team: front from left, Taryn Hoffman, Devin Simon, Elizabeth Gibbs, Megan Smith and Alyssa Lux; back row, Skylar Dolphin, Faith Bower, Abigail Welter, Jordan Simon, Nicole McDermott and Ally Hoffman. Not pictured, Sydney Weber.

Not like they needed any help, but thanks to the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union selecting Cascade as the preseason No. 1 in Class 2A, the Cougars now have a huge target on their backs.

The top-ranking doesn’t come as a surprise to this talent-rich program. The Cougars are just a year removed from their first state title and three of the big reasons why they won that crown are putting on their uniform for their senior year. It goes without saying that they don’t want to go out with just a bang, but they want the parade that goes along with the bang.

This team has six of their top seven scorers back from last season as they look to make a run at playing in Wells Fargo Arena for the fourth straight year. Seniors Nicole McDermott (16.3 ppg), Abby Welter (8.3 ppg) and Jordan Simon (6.4 ppg) lead the charge. Add in senior and second-year starter Skylar Dolphin (8.9 ppg) who will miss time early in the season as she recovers from an injury and sophomore Ally Hoffman who can put the ball in the basket and defend, and the Cougars look to have a team that could hold onto that number one spot all year long.

“I like the core six players we have and the experience we return from the past few seasons. I love their willingness to work and compete,” said Mike Sconsa, head coach of the Cougars. “However, I am greatly concerned about our ability to rebound, be physical and defend the interior. We will also need to continue to develop bench depth and improve our bench production.”

Looking to help the top six are freshman Alyssa Lux and junior Sydney Weber. They will be pressed by Sconsa and could be key ingredients to this team being able to end the season as the top team in Class 2A.

“It just means that someone thinks that we have a chance to be a nice team,” said Sconsa about his team being the preseason number one. “We’ve been in this position before and we’ve had kids in this position before. None of that stuff matters. Be the best you can be in February, that’s when it matters most.”