Posted On: 02/16/17 9:48 AM
The favorite: Like both Western Christian and Pella Christian were in their districts, Carroll Kuemper is a big favorite here. The Knights haven’t lost a game against 2A competition this season, and have been sitting near the top of the 2A poll all year. They’re led by future South Dakota State big Matt Dentlinger (19.0, 12.0 rebounds, 3.8 blocks), an interior presence that few, if any, 2A teams can match. Parker Badding (10.9, 37.9 3P%) and Sam Auen (10.5, 44.1 3P%) provide some additional scoring punch on the wing, and Jacob Schaefer (9.3) and Will Badding (8.2) round out a very good starting unit. Kuemper ranks 4th in 2A in scoring, putting up 72.9 a game, while playing one of the more difficult schedules in the class. It would be a shocker if the Knights don’t make it through this district.
The biggest threat: IKM-Manning has been a strong program for a while now, priding themselves on the defensive end, where they’ve been very good again this year. The Wolves are allowing just 50.5 points a game, good for 17th in 2A, while scoring 68.6 a night, good for 9th. They’ve got a pair of double figure scorers in Jon Brandt (17.0) and Ben Wegner (16.5), who pace that powerful attack. This team hasn’t been very good from the arc (30.7 3P%) or the free throw line (56.1 FT%), both big areas of concern in a game against a top-notch team like Kuemper, as is the significantly weaker schedule that they’ve played in the regular season.
The dark horse: South Central Calhoun has a much better shot at getting through IKM-Manning than West Central Valley has of beating Kuemper, so consider them the other team that could make some noise here. They’ve got a trio of double figure scorers in Jonas Otto (13.3), A.J. Neubaum (11.9) and Jared Birks (10.0), and if Otto and Neubaum can get going from behind the arc, they could find themselves in the district final, where anything can happen.
Players to watch
Matt Dentlinger, Carroll Kuemper, 2017
Parker Badding, Carroll Kuemper, 2018
Sam Auen, Carroll Kuemper, 2018
Jon Brandt, IKM-Manning, 2017
Ben Wegner, IKM-Manning, 2017
The favorite: It’s safe to say that Alta-Aurelia is entering the postseason hot, considering they haven’t lost since December 2nd. The Warriors are riding an 18-game winning streak, buoyed by 2A’s No. 2 scoring defense, allowing just 40.7 points a game. The Warriors are led offensively by Carson Kruger (14.1, 8.5 rebounds), an efficient interior player shooting over 58% from the floor. Ryan Radke (13.9) is the other primary scorer for Alta-Aurelia, a player who excels at getting to the free throw line, averaging 6.6 attempts a game. This defense will cause all sorts of problems in the district, and is the reason we consider them to be the favorite here.
The biggest threat: If there’s a team that can score on Alta-Aurelia in this district, it’s probably Hinton. Led by Jay Small (22.7), the Blackhawks have one of 2A’s best offensive players, someone who can create his own looks as well as set up his teammates. 6-6 senior Andrew Hasselquist (8.3, 10.0 rebounds, 2.6 blocks) gives them an interior presence on both ends that can be difficult to matchup with. But this team will only go as far as the dynamic Small will take them.
The dark horse: East Sac County has won seven of their last eight games, including a playoff-opening 36 point win over Missouri Valley. The Raiders have three averaging in double figures in Sam Scott (12.8), Levi Olhausen (12.8) and Ryan Bellcock (10.7), with another right behind, Brandyn Clair (9.9). This is a balanced group, and may be the best perimeter shooting team in the district. They’ve played a tougher schedule than either Alta-Aurelia or Hinton, something that could make a difference in a district final.
Players to watch
Carson Kruger, Alta-Aurelia, 2018
Ryan Radke, Alta-Aurelia, 2017
Jay Small, Hinton, 2017
SUBSTATE FINAL PREDICTION
Carroll Kuemper vs. Alta-Aurelia
Going through the gauntlet that is the Hawkeye 10 Conference, playing against schools that are all bigger than them, prepared Carroll Kuemper well for the postseason. They cruise to another state tournament berth, and have to be considered one of the favorites in Class 2A to take home the title.