Posted On: 11/13/17 3:54 PM
Boyden-Hull (17-8): The Comets are a perennial contender in not just the league, but also in Class 1A. They’ll have some work to do to get back to that level this season, losing five of their top six from last season, including each of their top four scorers. They bring back a pair of role players who played well last season and will be major pieces for them to build around in Zach Noble (7.8) and Keyton Moser (7.8). Noble knocked down 28 3s last season at a 50.9% clip, while Moser shot over 50% from the floor as a freshman in his 13 varsity contests. That combination will be one of the better inside-out duos in the league, but they’ll need to find some pieces to put around them. Look for Dylan Harman (2.2) and Hunter Koolstra (1.1) to step into significantly larger roles this season. This group is always going to be competitive, but after losing so much experience and talent from last year’s 17-win team, it’ll be tough for them to contend with some of the upper echelon teams in this conference. But they’ll almost certainly be heard from come playoff time.
Central Lyon (8-14): Five of the top six scorers from last year are gone for the Lions, including Riley Van Wyhe, who led the league in scoring at 22.5 points a game. The lone returnee among that top six is Zed Heimensen (8.5). He’ll have the ball in his hands a ton this season after finishing second on the team in assists last year. The only other returnee who scored more than five points last season is Parker Metzger (2.1), who scored 19 points on the season. So there are a lot of question marks with this group. Still, they usually have a solid group of athletes on the floor, and that should prevent them from falling all the way to the bottom of the league. But many nights this winter, they will struggle to remain competitive.
George-Little Rock (13-11): Five of the top six scorers from last season return for the Mustangs, and they’ll get an additional (huge) boost with the return of Jayden Mauldin (9.0). Mauldin was injured in the first game of the season last year, but was on his way to a huge night, finishing that game with nine points, 11 rebounds and three blocks before the injury. Inserting him back into this lineup will be huge for G-LR. Josh Haken (12.5) is the leading returning scorer. He thrives on getting to the rim and getting to the free throw line, and he’s a capable ball handler and decision maker as well, finishing last season with 98 assists to just 44 turnovers. Landon Jumbeck (11.4) is the team’s top perimeter shooter, making 64 3s last season. Lucas Nagel (9.7) will join with Haken in the backcourt after dishing out a team-high 100 assists last year. He also blocked 24 shots and finished second on the team with 29 steals, so he’s a two-way threat. Caleb Terhark (9.5) is an efficient forward who can be a force in the paint. And of course, Mauldin is back. This group struggled against the bigger 2A teams last season, being swept by West Lyon, Rock Valley, Sheldon and Sioux Center, and they weren’t very good on the defensive end, allowing 61.9 points a game, which ranked 126th in 1A. Of course, some of that is due to playing in a loaded league against bigger schools. But a big part of it is also that they lost their rim protection when Mauldin got hurt. Adding him back will help them on both ends of the floor and make this one of the best teams in 1A. They may struggle again against the bigger teams in the league, but they’ll make lots of noise come postseason time.
MOC-Floyd Valley (6-16): The Dutchmen bring back one of the league’s best players in senior Trenton De Haan (17.5), who was among the Siouxland’s leading scorers and rebounders last season. In all, they bring back three of their top five scorers from last year’s group. Also returning are Josiah Jansen (9.3) and Roman De Jong (6.5), giving MOC some experience to build around. They’ll need to improve on the turnover problem they had last season (147 assists to 278 turnovers) if they want to make a serious jump in the league’s standings. With De Haan, they can’t really be counted out of most games, but there just isn’t enough talent on the roster to compete with the upper echelon teams in this stacked conference.
Okoboji, Milford (3-19): Any reason the Pioneers had to be optimistic this season left when leading returnee Kip Hurd transferred to Spirit Lake, taking his 18 points a game with him. That means that the top two leading scorers from last year’s group, Bryce Peter and Hurd, are gone, and they accounted for 58% of the team’s scoring last season. Logan Abrahamson (10.2) returns, and proved to be a capable shooter last year, knocking down 34 3s at a 37.4% clip. Also back are Cris Halbur (6.5), Jamison Helmers (4.3) and Izic Brouwer (2.8), so they have some experience coming back. But this group only had three wins a year ago, two of which came over Sibley-Ocheyedan, and they have two huge vacancies to fill. It’s hard to imagine this team being competitive most nights.
Rock Valley (16-6): Five of the top seven scorers from last season return for the Rockets, who went 6-3 against the other top four teams in the conference last season, including a sweep of Sheldon. Routinely a balanced team, they’ll be similar again this season, putting together a solid inside-out combination that will cause issues for lots of teams. They’ll be led by Upper Iowa signee Jason Taylor (12.4), a 6-11 center who has consistently improved throughout his team in high school. He’s a huge body in the paint who blocked 60 shots last season and has greatly improved as a scorer in the post. Look for him to have a huge senior year. Brayton Van Kekerix (12.1) will be the other primary scoring option, and a majority of his damage comes from behind the arc. He shot 40.5% from deep last year, making him a true standout on a team that hit on just 29.2% of their 3s last season. His brother Elliott (8.6) will join him in the backcourt after leading the team in assists last season. He’ll be the floor general while Brayton is more of the scoring threat. 6-0 off-guard JT Van’t Hul (8.4) rounds out the perimeter trio, giving them a solid group of guards who can all handle the ball and score. If they’re able to improve as a team from the arc, that’ll go a long way towards improved offensive success, allowing Taylor more room to operate in the paint. Cade Moser (5.1) likely rounds out the starting five, a 6-2 forward who does most of his damage in the paint. This group won 10 of their final 13 games last year, with two of those losses coming to West Lyon. They’ll be looking to take that momentum into this season, and it certainly wouldn’t surprise anyone to see this team not only at the top of the league, but making noise in Des Moines as well.
Sheldon (18-5): The top four scorers return for the Orabs, who will be headlined by a post duo that will be among the best in the state, regardless of class. Kyle Boerhave (14.7) and Ryan Van Marel (12.0) combined to shoot 60.6% from the floor last season, and averaged a combined 18.6 rebounds a night. At 6-6 and 6-5, respectively, few teams in the league, or in Class 2A, will be able to handle them. Add in a backcourt headlined by Jaden Kleinhesslink (13.7), and Sheldon has the looks of a 2A contender. Kleinhesslink is a versatile scoring threat capable of doing damage at all three levels. He’ll be joined in the backcourt by Tyler Merley (6.7), a capable shooter who knocked down 44 3s last season. They’ll need to find some role players to fill out the rest of the rotation, but the Boerhave-Van Marel-Kleinhesslink trio will be one of the best trios you’ll find, and they’ll win this team plenty of games. They were the best defensive team in the league last season, allowing 53 points a game, and with plenty of experience and size returning, we expect that to continue. They’ll fight with Rock Valley, West Lyon, Sioux Center and George-Little Rock for supremacy in this loaded conference.
Sibley-Ocheyedan (2-20): The Generals really struggled last season, winning just two games, both against 1A teams. But there is some reason for optimism, as they return every player from that roster, which lost eight games by single digits last season. They’ll be led by a trio of double figure scorers in Grant Brouwer (14.4), Preston Marco (12.6) and Colvin Jenness (10.4), a trio of players who can get hot from deep. Hudson Feldkamp (9.2) and Caleb Mayer (4.3) will be the primary interior presences. The unfortunate news for Sibley is that every other team in the league is returning a ton of talent as well. They may be able to flip the script this season and beat Okoboji, but it’s tough to see many more conference wins coming in this loaded league.
Sioux Center (15-9): There is a strong argument to be made to have the Warriors pegged as the favorite in the league. They bring back their top six scorers from last season, only losing 64 points total from last year’s group (3.8%), headlined by a quartet of double figure scorers. They’ll be led by guard Tyus Arends (18.8), our preseason POY in the conference. He’s a gifted scoring guard who was far and away the most dangerous shooter in the league, knocking down 81 3s last season at a 45.3% clip. Tyler Van Beek (11.6), Cade Bleeker (11.3) and Isaac Vietor (9.1) will join him on the perimeter, each capable of knocking down 3s as well. Those four guards will play around Brendan Zeutenhorst (11.0), a 6-6 senior who shot 68.5% from the floor, led the team in rebounds by 100 and blocked 51 shots. He’s a big, intimidating presence in the middle of their defense and is a big reason why they should improve on the 62.8 points a game they allowed last year. Trajan Walhof (4.8) is another big body who can either spell Zeutenhorst or play alongside him in spurts. This group is going to score a ton of points, but improvement on the defensive end will be the key to how far they can go. Our preseason No. 3 team in Class 2A, this group is capable of doing some special things.
West Lyon (19-5): The Wildcats lose leading scorer Isaac Heyer, who averaged just under 20 points a game last season, but they bring back every other player of note, making them a dangerous team yet again this season. They’ll be led by Micah Meyer (14.5), a skilled 6-3 forward who does a majority of his damage inside the arc, but is capable of stepping out and knocking down an occasional jumper. He was the team’s leading rebounder last season and also blocked 13 shots. He should be a force on both ends of the floor. Point guard Jaden Snyder (8.7) isn’t a big-time scoring threat, but he’s one of the best pure point guards around, dishing out 124 assists to just 22 turnovers last season. He’ll be the engine that makes this offense go. Mitch Rentchler (7.8) and Malachi Van Wyhe (4.3) will be asked to be the team’s top perimeter shooting threats, while Korbyn Gramstad (6.3) and Noah Van’t Hof (6.1) will help out Meyer in the interior. Despite the loss of Heyer, this team is going to score plenty of points, and they have the ability and versatility to do so in a number of ways. Consider them to not only be a threat to win the league, but also to make some noise come postseason time (although they’ll likely be grouped in with Sioux Center, Sheldon and Rock Valley).
Projected Order of Finish
1. Sioux Center
3. West Lyon
4. Rock Valley
5. George-Little Rock
7. MOC-Floyd Valley
8. Central Lyon
10. Okoboji, Milford
Analysis: This conference is absolutely loaded, as each of the top five teams are ranked in our preseason top 10s (Sioux Center 3, Sheldon 4, West Lyon 5, Rock Valley 10 in 2A; George-Little Rock 7 in 1A). It wouldn’t shock us to see any of those five teams not only win this league, but also make some serious noise in Des Moines come March. This race will be the most entertaining to keep tabs on throughout the course of the year. In the end, we give the slightest edge to Sioux Center, who brings the most back of any of the teams in the league.
PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR
2018 Tyus Arends, Sioux Center: 18.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 81 3PM
The leading returning scorer in the league, Arends also knocked down 17 more 3s than any other returnee. His 81 made 3s last season ranked seventh in the state and is third among returning players. A valuable stat sheet stuffer, he edges out a number of qualified candidates for this honor.
2018 Jaden Snyder, West Lyon: The younger brother of former Wildcat standout (and current Iowa football player) Brandon Snyder, Jaden is one of the best floor generals in the state, posting a 5.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio last season. He’ll be asked to step into a larger scoring role with the graduation of Isaac Heyer, but with his physicality and quickness, he should be fine getting into the paint for buckets or assists.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
2018 Tyus Arends, Sioux Center
2018 Tyler Van Beek, Sioux Center
2019 Cade Bleeker, Sioux Center
2018 Brendan Zuetenhorst, Sioux Center
2018 Micah Meyer, West Lyon
2018 Jaden Snyder, West Lyon
2018 Kyle Boerhave, Sheldon
2018 Jaden Kleinheslink, Sheldon
2018 Ryan Van Marel, Sheldon
2018 Trenton De Haan, MOC-Floyd Valley
2018 Josh Haken, George-Little Rock
2018 Jayden Mauldin, George-Little Rock
2018 Landon Jumbeck, George-Little Rock
2019 Lucas Nagel, George-Little Rock
2019 Caleb Terhark, George-Little Rock
2018 Jason Taylor, Rock Valley
2019 Brayton Van Kekerix, Rock Valley
2019 Grant Brouwer, Sibley-Ocheyedan
2018 Preston Marco, Sibley-Ocheyedan