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Posted On: 01/15/18 7:30 AM
Groupings for districts and substates will be released over the next few weeks, with the assignments for Classes 1A and 2A set to be released this Friday, the 19th, and assignments for the two larger classes coming on the 26th. Upsets occur every year during the postseason, and we’re taking a look at three teams currently below .500 in each class that you won’t want to see in your grouping when the assignments are released. (Records current as of 1/14/18.)
Hudson (5-6): The Pirates play a lot of larger schools and have been largely competitive in those games. Three of their losses are to ranked 2A teams, and only one loss has come by more than 10 points. The backcourt duo of Parker Ingamells (16.3 points per game) and CJ Christopher (10.4) have knocked down 58 3s between them and that type of shooting could carry them to a few wins come 1A postseason time.
Prince of Peace (6-9): Kaidion Larson (17.1) and Patrick Mulholland (15.6) give the Irish a talented backcourt duo that can score in bunches. They’re one of the higher scoring teams in 1A at 62.3 points a game, but they’re allowing 62.7 points a night, which ranks 120th in the class. If they can get better on that end of the floor, that Larson-Mulholland tandem might do some damage.
Southwest Valley (5-7): The Timberwolves have one of Class 1A’s most potent offenses, ranking 26th at 65.0 points a game. They have a quartet of double figure scorers and a tandem of shooters in Chance Cobb and Jace Petersen who can get hot from the arc and carry a team. The issue they’ve had is that they rank 123th in 1A in defense, allowing 63.1 points a game. This is a group that is going to look to outscore teams, but if they could get that defensive average down to the 57-58 point a game range for a while, they could be dangerous.
Bellevue (5-8): The Comets have lost four of their eight games so far by single digits, including games against quality teams like Camanche and Iowa City Regina. They have a really skilled scorer in Cade Daugherty (24.1) who is capable of getting red hot and carrying them to a few wins, but they’ll need the supporting cast (Paxton Felderman, Trey Daugherty, Trevor Hager) to become more efficient if they want to make a real run in district play.
New Hampton (6-8): The Chickasaws have already beaten a 4A team (Mason City), and have a talented tandem of scoring guards in Keagan John (16.8) and Jake Zwanziger (13.9). They play a methodical style which will keep them in games, and John is a good free throw shooter if they happen to have a late lead to protect.
Denver (6-7): The Cyclones are sub-.500, but have a positive point differential on the season. They have a quartet of double figure scorers, and another who is close at 8.8 points a game, giving them a really balanced unit that will have five players who are a threat to score on the floor. Zach Miller is one of the better rebounders in the glass and can control the game on both ends of the floor with his ability to gain second possessions or prevent opposing teams from getting extra possessions. This is also a group that does a pretty good job sharing (208 assists) and protecting the ball (159 turnovers).
Mount Vernon (5-6): The Mustangs are led by a point guard who knows how to win in Drew Adams, who was one of the best quarterbacks the state has seen and is a real leader on the floor. And they have a really talented freshman scoring guard in Keaton Kutcher, who leads the team in scoring at 13.7 points and showed his explosiveness with a 10-13 performance from behind the arc in a win against Anamosa this year. They have a veteran coach who will have this team ready to play every night, they protect the ball (turn the ball over less than 10 times a game), and they can shoot it from the arc. Watch out for the ‘Stangs.
Decorah (5-7): As they showed in a blowout win over Crestwood, the Vikings are capable of getting red hot from behind the arc. In that win, they knocked down 14 of 22 attempts from deep. Jonah Johnson and Nick Bockman are the catalysts of the offense on the perimeter, and Jerod Redenius gives them some size, physicality and rim protection in the paint. They have nine players who play regularly, making them one of the deeper teams in 3A.
Nevada (5-7): The Cubs are a bewildering team. They went 15-8 last season and returned four of their top five scorers, so we expected them to hang around the top 10 this season. Instead, they’ve struggled to a 5-7 mark. So where’s the issue? They’re allowing seven more points a game than they did last season, which has taken them from 9th in scoring defense in 3A all the way down to 39th. If they can regain some of that defensive intensity from last year, they could make some noise. They have a trio of double figure scorers in Trent Stahl, Om’Unique Wilkerson and Luke Merfeld, and a shooter who can get hot in Tyler Sansgaard. But they’ll need to buy in on defense if they want to reach expectations.
Cedar Rapids Jefferson (4-7): The J-Hawks haven’t beaten any upper-echelon teams yet, but they’ve played a lot of them close. They lost to Cedar Rapids Kennedy by a point. Cedar Rapids Xavier by seven. West Des Moines Valley by five. Cedar Falls by seven. They’re close to breaking through against top-tier talent, and they have a really talented trio of guards who can light it up at any time in Willie Guy III, Ozzie Meiborg and Kyler Bell, who combine to average over 45 points a game. This is a group that is really small, but they fly around on the defensive end, can cause issues with their speed and athleticism, and have a trio of players who can get hot. It’s only a matter of time before they pick somebody off, and teams that are grouped with them better hope it’s not in the postseason.
Iowa City High (3-8): The Little Hawks have already shown how dangerous they can be with their early season win over Cedar Falls. They’ve also played Dubuque Senior and Pleasant Valley tight. This is a really young team, but teams like that can be dangerous as they sometimes don’t comprehend the moment and aren’t intimidated by it. The Little Hawks have lots of athleticism and a trio of players who can score in bunches with Antonio Turner, Keshawn Christian and Ry Threlkeld-Weigand. If 6-8 center Jeremy Kambomba is able to provide some quality minutes and protect the paint, they could make some noise.
Bettendorf (5-7): Two words: DJ. Carton. Anytime a team is going to put the best player on the floor in a one game setting, they’re going to be dangerous. Carton is a legitimate threat to score 35-40 points on any given night, and in a postseason setting, that’s one of the scariest things you can see. The Bulldogs are starting to get increased production out of guys like Devynn Wakefield and Lucas Hayes, and if they can get some scoring out of those guys, to pair with Carton’s explosiveness, the ‘Dogs could make a run.