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Posted On: 11/23/17 12:00 PM
The Teams (2016-17 record in parenthesis)
AHSTW (21-3): Preseason Player of the Year RJ Harris returns, and the senior guard is in line for what could be a monster season for the the Vikings. Fellow senior guard Jake Martin will need to step up big, and if he does, it will be another nice season in Avoca.
Audubon (11-11): Nearly everyone returns from last season’s middling 11-win squad, and that’s great new for the Wheelers. Expect Tyler Riebhoff and Co. to finish near the top of the conference this winter.
Griswold (0-22): The Tigers were bad last season, there’s really no other way to put it, and if they want to get into the win column winter, it’ll be up to last season’s leading scorer Morgan Mundorf to lead the way.
IKM-Manning (16-7): The two stars from last seasons team, Jon Brandt and Ben Wegner, are gone. But the Wolves always have talent waiting in the wings. Look for Jared Johnson and Alex Lingle to lead them to a slew of wins this winter.
Logan-Magnolia (14-9): Watch out for the Panthers this season. They have a bevy of talent and experience returning from last season’s formidable 14-win squad, inducing preseason 1st-tam all-conference selection Kolby Morrison. Could they be in line for a conferences title?
Missouri Valley (4-18): Four of their five returning starters are back from a season ago, so there’s reason to be optimistic for the Big Reds. We’ll get an idea of just how good they can be next Monday when they open the season at Maple Valley-Anton-Ono.
Riverside (4-18): It was a rough go last season for the Bulldogs, and things may not get much better this season in Oakland. Four of last year’s five starters are gone, and the lack of experience will be a lot to overcome.
Treynor (14-10): Always formidable, the Cardinals will again be a tough team to beat this season, especially with the likes of sharpshooter Dillon Faubel returning for his senior campaign. In fact, mostly everyone is back for a team that will certainly contest for a conference title.
Tri-Center (13-10): There’s a strong and deep 2018 class that’s been brewing in Neola, and now, those seniors will try and get the Trojans to a finish near the top of the conference.
Underwood (17-5): Isaiah Humphrey was a superstar last season for the 17-win Eagles, but he’s gone now. Thomas Conn is there now to take the reins, and Jacob Privia will provide plenty of help for a team that will certainly be tough to beat.
Projected Order of Finish
Analysis: In what should be an unbelievably tough conference this season, there’s seven teams that have a viable shot of coming away with a title. They’ll beat each-other up this season, and it’ll be very interesting who can come out on top come late-February
Player of the Year: RJ Harris, AHSTW, Avoca (2018)
The conference’s leading returning scorer, Harris has been slicing and dicing Western Iowa defenses for three seasons now; after averaging 13 points his freshman season and 15.7 as a sophomore, he rained in 18.3 per game last season as a junior. There’s no reason to believe that he won’t net 20-plus per game as a senior.
Biggest Sleeper: Jared Johnson, IKM-Manning (2018)
We have the Wolves slated to finish seventh, but it’s a bit misleading. There’s two or three elite teams, then three or four teams that could be very good and compete, we put the Wolves in that latter category. And it’s our faith in senior Jared Johnson that gives us confidence in his team. He was a role player last season, but we think he’ll breakout this season, and cold be among the conference’s scoring leaders.