Posted On: 02/16/17 9:00 PM
The favorite: Walking double-double Elijah Hazekamp (17.1, 12.8 rebounds) leads perennial power Sioux City Heelan into postseason play as the district’s top seed. The Crusaders have already beaten LeMars by 14 earlier in the season and are one of 3A’s highest scoring teams, putting up 65.3 points a night. Kyrese Peck (13.5) is a nice second option on the perimeter, and they’ve got four others averaging between 6.4 and 9.5 points. Playing against primarily 4A teams during the year, this team has been tested every night and will be ready to roll come Tuesday night. They also get to play the district final at home, a big edge, as the Pit is one of the tougher places to play.
The biggest threat: LeMars is another one of 3A’s top scoring teams, ranking No. 6 in the class, averaging 68.3 points a game. The Bulldogs are led by a pair of standout guards in Trenton Hillbrands (16.5, 44.4 3P%) and Will Pottebaum (15.4, 50.0 3P%), who combine to be one of the most dangerous duos in the state. The big question for LeMars will be whether or not they have an answer for Hazekamp, who had 19 points and 16 rebounds in their earlier meeting. Of course, if Hilbrands and/or Pottebaum get hot from the arc, they can beat anyone, but they’ll need to find a way to keep Hazekamp off the glass in the district final, something we’re a bit concerned about.
The other two: LeMars handily swept Storm Lake during the regular season, winning by 12 and 30 in the two meetings. The Tornadoes do have a dangerous pair of guards in Joshua Werge (17.2, 43.5 3P%) and Parker Lange (16.9, 40.0 3P%), so they could possibly make some noise, but they’ve got a difficult road in front of them…MOC-Floyd Valley has had a rough year following the graduation of Levi Jansen, going just 6-15. They’ve got an interior scorer in Trenton De Haan (18.0, 54.9 FG%) who could potentially limit Hazekamp in the opening round, but it could get ugly for the Dutchmen at The Pit.
Players to watch
Elijah Hazekamp, Sioux City Heelan, 2018
Kyrese Peck, Sioux City Heelan, 2017
Trenton Hillbrands, LeMars, 2017
Will Pottebaum, LeMars, 2018
Joshua Werge, Storm Lake, 2017
Parker Lange, Storm Lake, 2017
Trenton De Haan, MOC-Floyd Valley, 2018
The favorite: Despite losing a pair of Division I players, Spirit Lake is back at the top of this district and they’ll get to host a pair of games as a result. Led by another Division I talent in 6-9 sophomore Owen Coburn (18.7, 9.4 rebounds, 32 blocks, 70.1 FG%), the Indians are one of the state’s most efficient offensive teams, shooting 52.5% from the floor overall. They can put a number of shooters around Coburn in Alex Van Dyke (13.0, 38.1 3P%), Frankie Ramos (9.2, 39.0 3P%) and Nick Christensen (7.4, 37.3 3P%). They’re one of 3A’s best defensive teams, ranking No. 5 in scoring defense, allowing just 48.4 points a game. Coburn’s presence in the paint is a huge part of that, but these guards are also solid on-ball defenders. Getting to play the district final at home gives them the slightest edge over a very good Sergeant Bluff-Luton team.
The biggest threat: Sergeant Bluff-Luton has a veteran team, and like Heelan in the other district, they’ve got the added benefit of playing in the Missouri River Conference, against a bunch of 4A teams. The Warriors have a stable of scoring threats with Chris Kroll (17.0), Jackson Wright (14.0), Conner Groves (10.6) and Keegan Savary (9.5). Wright has been very solid on the interior and on the glass for SB-L, with the other three are great options on the perimeter. This team takes great care of the ball (321 assists to just 206 turnovers) and has played a significantly more difficult schedule than Spirit Lake. Going on the road for the district final won’t intimidate this group whatsoever, and they are no doubt capable of getting out of there with the win.
The other two: Spencer was swept in the season series by Spirit Lake, losing by 31 and 12 in the two meetings. Brady Kluender (13.3) is a solid scorer for the Tigers, but this is a group that tends to have difficulty putting the ball in the basket outside of him, shooting just 37.3% from the floor as a team…Jackson Helmers (15.2) leads three double figure scorers for Algona, with Riley Helmers (13.9) and Nick Stein (13.7) also providing scoring punch. The Bulldogs enter the postseason in a bit of a tailspin, having lost four of their last five.
Players to watch
Owen Coburn, Spirit Lake, 2019
Chris Kroll, Sergeant Bluff-Luton, 2017
Jackson Wright, Sergeant Bluff-Luton, 2017
Brady Kluender, Spencer, 2018
Jackson Helmers, Algona, 2017
Riley Helmers, Algona, 2017
SUBSTATE FINAL PREDICTION
Sioux City Heelan vs. Spirit Lake
While Owen Coburn is a difficult matchup, Sioux City Heelan has their own animal on the glass with Hazekamp, and the rest of the team is better around Hazekamp, as is the competition the Crusaders have played. Heelan returns to the state tournament after a four-year absence.