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Posted On: 11/2/17 1:43 PM
The Teams (2016-17 record in parenthesis)
Charles City (15-7): Our seventh-ranked squad in the state, Charles City not only has conference title hopes, but state title aspirations as well. Jackson Molstead is one of the Iowa’s best guards, and is back for his junior season after averaging 19.4 points and 5.5 assists per game as a sophomore. Cade Hemesath will provide some punch in the paint to compliment Molstead quickness at the guard spot. The Comets’ top five scorers from a season ago are back.
Crestwood (9-13): Last year’s leading scorer Clayton Ollendieck is back and brings with him an efficient scoring option. Guys like Nathan Martinek and Kristian Szajna will be asked to up their production for this Crestwood squad that looks to get to double-digit wins this season.
Decorah (11-12): Yet another squad that brings back not only its leading scorer, but plenty of additional talent to boot. Nick Bockman netted 14 points per game last season for the Vikings, and he and big-man Jerod Redinus spent their offseasons improving with one of Iowa’s best grassroots squads, Iowa Mavericks Purple 17U. Expect the Vikings to be formidable this season.
New Hampton (14-9): The Chickasaws are one in a number of schools looking to finish in the top three, and with its top three scorers back from last season’s 14-win squad, we like their chances. Tristan Sweitzer brings back 14 points and 5.0 assists per game, he’s a first-team all-conference selection. Keegan John and Jake Zwanziger are also back, and the expectations are high for New Hampton.
Oelwein (3-19): Last season was a rough-go for the Huskies, but with a very strong 2019 class, there’s reason to be optimistic. Dom Robertson was one of the state’s breakout stars this grassroots season, he’s a preseason first-team all-conference selection. If the Huskies aren’t in the upper echelon of the conference this season, expect them to be there next winter.
Waukon (6-15): The amount of talent and experience returning in this conference is astonishing, and Waukon takes the cake when it comes to both. It’s top six scorers return from last season’s six-win squad, including Michael Sweeney and Isaiah Welch, each of which averaged north of 15 points per game.
Waverly-Shell Rock (24-2): Always good, the Go-Hawks are one of those rare programs that reload rather than rebuild. Austin Phyfe is at Northern Iowa now, and there’s no replacing him, but Jacob Bahe is an athletic 6’6 post that will be formidable in the post. Other returners Luke Velky, Mosai Newson and Jack Seward will have the Go-Hawks at or near the top of the conference, like usual.
Projected Order of Finish
Analysis: This is one of the strongest and most competitive conference’s from top to bottom in the state, so picking a winner, let alone a top seven, is no simple task. Charles City has the conference’s best player with Molstead, but Waverly-Shell Rock has a slew of talented guys who will arrive this season after coming through the ranks. New Hampton and Decorah could be right there when it’s all said and done, too. There will be no easy Ws in the Northeast Iowa Conference this winter.
Preseason Player of the Year: Jackson Molstead, Charles City (2019)
A clear choice for this honor, Molstead not only has the pedigree from past seasons to justify this honor, but he has a strong 16U season under his belt with Martin Brothers to bolster it. He’s a quick and dazzling playmaker who could post absurd numbers this season as junior.
Biggest Sleeper: Jacob Bahe, Waverly Shell-Rock (2018)
Last season the 6’6 post was playing behind the state’s best big-man, Austin Phyfe; this season, it’s his turn to dominate. Bahe left quite an impression on us two summers ago during a grassroots tourney in Des Moines, and the athletic center spent his junior season going up against Phyfe every day in practice. We expect him to improve substantially upon his 6.8 points and 4.0 rebounds per game from a season ago.