Posted On: 11/2/17 1:30 PM
Fairfield (9-12): The top six scorers are back for the Trojans this year, headlined by junior forward Carson Crile (15.1), an efficient 6-3 post who lives at the free throw line and is one of the most relentless rebounders in the state. He’ll be surrounded by four guards with plenty of experience in Tristin Waugh (9.2), Dante Cingire (9.0), James Lyman (8.6) and Collin Breen (8.5), giving Fairfield an extremely experienced core that knows how to play together. The unfortunate news for the Trojans is that Fort Madison and Mount Pleasant both return largely in tact, and they were swept in each season series by an average of 12 and 35.5 points, respectively. There is a chance the Trojans could push Fort Madison for a second place finish, but we wouldn’t count on it. This group will be looking to build for the 2018-19 season, when they’ll have Crile, Breen and Waugh all as seniors.
Fort Madison (15-8): The Bloodhounds look like a pretty clear cut No. 2 team in the league, with a pair of double figure scorers returning in Kaleb Cresswell (14.7) and Treavor Kokjohn (12.0). Cresswell is one of the state’s best shooters, knocking in 75 3s last season at a 46.9% clip, while Kokjohn is a 6-3 forward who does most of his damage inside the arc. That duo is going to win plenty of games for Fort Madison, and if Cresswell gets hot, they’re capable of pulling an upset or two come playoff time. Logan Rashid (6.0) gives them another perimeter shooter, as he hit 41.2% of his 51 attempts. This team will go as far as Cresswell and Kokjohn take them, and given the balance and diversity that duo brings, they should win plenty of games again this year.
Keokuk (1-21): It figures to be another long winter for the Chiefs, who won just a single game last season and lose their top three scorers from that group. The top returnee is Jace Wade (3.6), who will have the ball in his hands quite a bit. Dre Moody (3.4), Cory Flax-Solomon (3.1) and Eddie Lee (2.5) saw some time last year, but will need to step into much larger roles this year. With the way they struggled last year, and the lack of returning talent, it’s hard to see them beating last year’s win total.
Mount Pleasant (22-3): The Panthers open the season No. 2 in our 3A poll, and you could make a great argument for them to be in the top spot. This group has been playing together for forever, and they’ve been building steadily towards this season. The core group has been starting together on varsity since they were freshmen, going through plenty of ups and downs along the way, leading to a state tournament berth last year, and a possible state championship this year. They’re led by hyper-efficient guard Brady Sartorius (21.8), who had eye-popping 59-47-75 shooting splits last season while also dishing out 108 assists to just 31 turnovers. He’s the leader of this group and is armed with one of the best mid-range games the state has seen in recent years. Joining him in the backcourt are Jordan Magnani (12.0) and Colin Mulford (8.7), a pair of quality shooters who are perfect fits alongside Sartorius and his dribble penetration style. Kieran Kohorst (6.6) and Jonathan Ita (5.6) provide some physicality on the interior, and despite not being a traditionally sized tandem in the paint, they’ll play defense, rebound and compete against much larger foes. Ita can also stretch out and knock down an occasional 3. Maison Ashton (2.9), Brody McGhghy (2.4) and Rhett Zeglen (2.1) provide this group with plenty of depth, as coach Paul Rundquist can comfortably go at least eight deep this year. With one of the state’s best backcourts, and a team that knows how to play together and win together, the sights are set well beyond winning this league again. Their sights are on taking home a championship trophy on the final Friday night of the season in Des Moines.
Washington (7-14): The Demons return four of their top six from last season, which should give them some reason for optimism. They’ll be led by forward Jaivonn Willis (9.6), who led the team in scoring and rebounding last season. Jack Redlinger (7.5), Dalton Myers (6.5) and Jacob Van Osdol (4.1) will make up the starting backcourt. Van Osdol has proven to be a top-notch shooter, hitting on 24 of his 50 attempts from the arc last season (48%). There is some experience returning, but with so much talent returning to the teams that finished ahead of them last year, it’s hard to see any upward mobility here for the Demons.
Projected Order of Finish
1. Mount Pleasant
2. Fort Madison
Analysis: With the exception of maybe North Linn in the Tri-Rivers West, there isn’t a more overwhelming favorite in a league this year than Mount Pleasant is here. They return all but one player from a team that blasted Fort Madison, their closest competition, by 26, 37 and 11 points in three meetings last year. The Bloodhounds could make some noise if they’re able to avoid Mount Pleasant in the postseason.
PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR
2018 Brady Sartorius, Mount Pleasant: 21.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.8 steals, 58.6 FG%, 46.6 3P%
This conference has one of the most obvious choices of any in the state for the Player of the Year honor, and it’s the lead gun for Mount Pleasant. Sartorius is a gifted combo guard who led the league in scoring, assists and steals last year, while doing so with remarkable efficiency. A heady player who rarely makes mistakes, he’ll pace a Panthers team that will win this league handily, and is among the top 2-3 teams in Class 3A.
2019 Rhett Zeglen, Mount Pleasant: Zeglen may not shine this season on a senior-laden Panthers team, but he’ll provide plenty of production off the bench. A physical 6-3 forward capable of stretching out to the arc and hitting 3s, he’s also competitive on the glass and finishes well at the rim. He’ll make an impact this year, then be one of the top players in the league as a senior.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
2018 Brady Sartorius, Mount Pleasant
2018 Jordan Magnani, Mount Pleasant
2018 Colin Mulford, Mount Pleasant
2018 Kieran Kohorst, Mount Pleasant
2018 Jonathan Ita, Mount Pleasant
2018 Kaleb Cresswell, Fort Madison
2018 Treavor Kokjohn, Fort Madison
2019 Logan Rashid, Fort Madison
2019 Carson Crile, Fairfield
2019 Tristin Waugh, Fairfield
2018 Dante Cingire, Fairfield
2018 James Lyman, Fairfield
2019 Collin Breen, Fairfield
2018 Jaivonn Willis, Washington
2018 Jack Redlinger, Washington