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Posted On: 11/21/17 10:54 AM
The Teams (2016-17 record in parenthesis)
Akron-Westfield (7-15): Nick Jacobs is a preseason 1st-team all-conference selection, and Raegan Frankl will provide plenty of help. Look for the Westerners to finish slightly better than they did last season.
Clay Central-Everly (7-16): After winning just seven games a season ago, it could be another rough go this time around for the Mavericks. Junior forward John Galm will take the reins this year, look for him to have a breakout season.
Gehlen Catholic (17-7): Cole Wiltgen and Alec Langel are both preseason 2nd-team all-conference selections, and it should be another nice season for the Jays. Expect them to finish in the upper echelon of the standings.
Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn (3-19): Although it may have been tough to come across wins last season, look for some steady improvement over the next two winters for the Hawks. They have a very strong 2019 class, which includes returning leading scorer Jake Van Dyke.
Harris-Lake Park (10-12): Bret Sohn is a preseason 2nd-team all-conference selection, and after averaging 13.1 points per game as a junior, could have a monster senior season. He’ll need plenty of help from Zach Heikens and Trevor Gunderson if the Wolves want to make a splash this season.
Hinton (18-5): It will be a new-look this season for the Blackhawks, which graduated five starters from last season’s 18-win unit, including Iowa’s 8th-ranked 2017, Jay Small, who averaged 24.0 points per game as a senior. Jacob Kirwan is the team’s leading returning scorer, he notched 3.3 points per game last season.
MMCRU (3-19): Three of its top four scorers from a season ago return, but that probably won’t be enough to get the Royals into conference title contention. It could be another long season in Marcus.
South O’Brien (13-10): Just two years removed from a 1A state title, the Wolverines have a decent shot at being very good again this season. After last season’s 13-win campaign, they return nearly everyone, including preseason 1st-team all-conference selection, Carson Louscher.
St. Mary’s, Remsen (25-2): Nicholas Ruden is back, and that spells trouble for the rest of the teams in the conference. Ruden is the War Eagle’s Preseason Player of the Year, and should get his team near the top of the conference once again.
Trinity Christian, Hull (2-19): After notching just two wins last season, there’s some reason to be optimistic in Hull this season. The Tigers return every single player from that squad, and experience usually translates to improvement.
Unity Christian (14-9): Last season’s 14-win squad finished the season especially strong, and we expect the Knights to again be formidable this winter. Sam Byker will lead the charge, they’ll open the season one week from today at LeMars.
West Sioux (12-9): The Falcons have two representatives on the preseason 1st-team all conference, and sophomore Hunter Dekkers is one of the best 2020’s in the state. Wins will be very tough to come by this winter in Hawarden.
Projected Order of Finish
Analysis: With two players on the preseason 1st-team all-conference unit, it’s tough to not see West Sioux taking home a conference title this season. That said, if South O’Brien, Gehlen Catholic or the Nicholas Ruden-led Hawks of St. Mary’s, Remsen come away with a War Eagle crown, we wouldn’t be terribly surprised.
Preseason Player of the Year: Nicholas Ruden, St. Mary’s, Remsen (2018)
After a tremendous regular season last winter, Ruden was able to display his skill-set on the state’s biggest stage at the state tournament, where he was one of the standout players at the event. He’ll try to lead his Hawks back to Wells Fargo Arena this season with his hybrid inside/outside prowess.
Biggest Sleeper: Jacob Kirwan, 2018 (Hinton)
One of the more intriguing teams in the War Eagle this season, we’re interested to see if Hinton will reload with talent, or if it’ll be a rebuilding season instead. Jacob Kirwan played behind five seniors last winter, but we have a feeling the Blackhawks’ leading returning scorer would have made a major impact with any other team in the conference. He’ll post some big-time numbers this winter.