Conference Preview: West Central

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Posted On: 11/22/17 12:00 PM

The Teams (2016-17 record in parenthesis)

 

ACGC (3-20): After winning just three games last winter, the Chargers will look to trend upward behind key returners Caden Wardyn and  Quynton Younker. Their season starts a week from today at home against Madrid, we’ll know a lot more then.

Des Moines Christian (18-5): New coach Jason Van Mersbergen will be at the helm this season for the Lions, and he’s got the Preseason Player of the Year, Issac Prewitt, to work with. Expect the Lions to be quite good, once again.

Earlham (18-6): Trent Williamson is one of the state’s most prolific scorers, and he should average north of 20 points per game this season. Guys like Jason Hopp and Lazerick Matchem will need to help shoulder the load this winter.

Madrid (8-14): Braden Gibbons pieced together one of the finer frosh seasons in all of Iowa last season, but it translated to little success for his Tigers. However, with the top two scorers back from a season ago, things may be looking up in Madrid.

Ogden (8-16): Last season’s leading scorer, Nathan Kennedy, graduated, but the net five leading scorers are back for a Bulldogs team that has plenty to be excited about. Junior guard Ben Heeren is poised for a monster season.

Panorama (6-15): Young guns Gracen Welberg and Luke South were major producers last season for the Panthers. This season, with plenty of experience coming back, they’ll look to get above .500.

Van Meter (23-2): Not only are they the best team in the conference, but the Bulldogs are our No. 1 team in all of 2A. Grant Johnson and Ryan Schmitt both go 6’8, and a stable of skilled guards compliment those twin towers. Van Meter will be must-watch hoops this winter.

West Central Valley (6-18): Rylan Heffernan left, he’s at ADM now; he was going to be the leading returning scorer for WCV this season. That leaves capable junior Cole Arnburg as the main-man in Stuart. Still, wins could be hard to come by winter for the Wildcats.

Woodward Academy (10-12): There’s always a new-look squad at Woodward Academy, yet the Knights usually put a formidable group on the floor. Now, three season’s removed from a historic state tourney berth, don’t expect that same success this season, but expect a tough group that will compete.

Woodward-Granger (9-13): Bryce Achenbach was torching opponents last season as a frosh, and he’ll likely be doing much of the same this winter. Reese Jamison is another sophomore who will do substantial damage. Aside from those two, significant experience will be hard to find on the Hawks’ roster.

 

Projected Order of Finish

  1. Van Meter
  2. Des Moines Christian
  3. Earlham
  4. Ogden
  5. Woodward-Granger
  6. Madrid
  7. Panorama
  8. Woodward Academy
  9. ACGC
  10. West Central Valley

 

Analysis: Van Meter is the runaway favorite; that’s not because the other teams aren’t formidable, but rather Van Meter is just that talented, big and experienced. If the Bulldogs ran the table and went undefeated headed into a potential state tourney run at Wells Fargo Arena, we wouldn’t be surprised. But, they’ll have a target on their backs all season, so it won’t be easy.

 

 

Player of the Year: Isaac Prewitt, Des Moines Christian (2018)

The past two seasons, Des Moines Christian featured Keaton Van Soelen and then Ben Juhl running the show, and Prewitt has been waiting in the wings for his shot to be the man. That time has come, and we think the 6-foot-2 guard will post some prolific and efficient numbers this winter for the Lions.

 

Biggest Sleeper: Cole Arnburg, West Central Valley (2019)

Ya, we picked WCV to finish last, but that doesn’t mean they won’t wins some games this season. Arnburg was pretty good last winter as a sophomore, averaging 7.5 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. And with the departure of standout 2018 Rylan Heffernan (transferred to ADM), the opportunity is there for Arnburg to take the reins and post some big-time numbers this winter.

 

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