Posted On: 01/17/18 9:39 PM
With Iowa City West’s loss to Cedar Falls on Tuesday night, we’re down to 11 undefeated teams remaining around the state. All of the remaining unbeatens are in the smaller two classes, with four coming from Class 1A and seven from 2A. We take a look at these 11 teams, and determine when (or if) their first regular season loss will come.
Grand View Christian (13-0)
About the Thunder: After rolling through the Bluegrass Conference last season, the defending champions left the league and are playing an independent schedule, meaning they’ve had a chance to really step up the competition they’ve played. It hasn’t mattered yet, making it through the most difficult portion of their schedule untainted. Grant DeMeulenaere (25.4 points per game) and Mach Nyaw (16.3) give them a dynamic backcourt, and the recent addition of Issa Samake gives them a fantastic rim protector. Seven of their remaining games are against 2A or 3A teams, but only Kuemper Catholic at the end of the year should give them a test.
Toughest remaining games: 1/23 at Chariton, 2/6 at Greene County, 2/9 at Kuemper Catholic
Will they go undefeated? Yes. The Thunder will be tested by the Knights in the season finale, but the addition of Samake will give them the rim protection and interior presence to put them over the edge against Parker Badding and company.
North Linn (16-0)
About the Lynx: Led by record setting point guard Jake Hilmer, and running mates Ryan Miller and David Seber, the Lynx are rolling through their schedule, winning by an average of 55 points a game. They have the highest scoring offense the state has seen in years at 92.8 points per game and have already passed their biggest test last night when they beat 3A Iowa City Liberty by 33 points. The biggest test remaining on the slate is a road game at Edgewood-Colesburg, but the Lynx won the first meeting by 44 points, one of only two losses E-C has this year.
Toughest remaining games: 1/26 at Edgewood-Colesburg
Will they go undefeated? Yes. The Lynx will finish the regular season undefeated and should also roll through district and substate play. A potential meeting in the state championship with Grand View Christian would be one of the best games around the state this year.
Remsen, St. Mary’s (14-0)
About the Hawks: The Hawks went through last season undefeated until the state tournament, and they’re rolling along again, riding one of the best defenses in the state, allowing just 39.7 points a game. All five starters average between 8.1 and 15.8 points a game, giving them one of the most balanced attacks in the state, and the duo of Nicholas Ruden and Derrick Schorg give them a great combination on the glass. Two possible slip-ups remain, against Gehlen Catholic and Unity Christian, but both games are at home which gives them an edge.
Toughest remaining games: 1/30 vs. LeMars, Gehlen Catholic, 2/6 vs. Unity Christian
Will they go undefeated? Yes. The game late in the season against Unity Christian will be really tough and should be low scoring, but we think they’ll make it through and enter postseason play at 21-0.
About the Raiders: Probably the most surprising undefeated team remaining in the state, the Raiders have used an explosive offense that’s averaging 71 points a game to run to their 12-0 mark. Their best win to date is a four point win over Don Bosco, 59-55, handing the Dons their first loss of the year on January 9. They have a really difficult portion of the schedule coming up with games on three straight games, two of which are very losable games at Gladbrook-Reinbeck and a neutral court game against 2A undefeated Aplington-Parkersburg. If Brady Happel, Zach Johnson and crew are able to get through that portion unscathed, they still have games left against Janesville (won by one) and Don Bosco still to come. That’s a lot to overcome.
Toughest remaining games: 1/18 at Gladbrook-Reinbeck, 1/20 vs. Aplington-Parkersburg, 1/26 vs. Janesville, 1/29 at Don Bosco
Will they go undefeated? No. If they don’t get caught by Gladbrook-Reinbeck on Thursday, Aplington-Parkersburg should handle them on Saturday.
Van Meter (13-0)
About the Bulldogs: A state qualifier last year, the Bulldogs have been ranked No. 1 in our 2A poll all season. They’re the best defensive team in 2A, allowing just 37.7 points a game, which is 2.5 points better than any other team in the class. They recently welcomed 6-8 center Grant Johnson back to the lineup after he missed the first eight games of the season, which makes them the biggest team in the class when they pair Johnson with fellow 6-8 big man Ryan Schmitt. They have one of the most efficient offenses in the state, shooting 56.5% from the floor and 45.7% from the arc. The toughest remaining tilt is against a Des Moines Christian team that they’ve already beaten by 14 on the road.
Toughest remaining games: 2/3 at Pella Christian, 2/6 vs. Des Moines Christian
Will they go undefeated? Yes. The ‘Dogs have the best defense in the class and have already beaten the biggest threat left on their schedule by double digits on the road.
About the Falcons: The highest scoring team in the class at 76.3 points a game, the Falcons are rolling through their schedule, winning games by an average of 26 points a game. Carter Cuvelier and Alec Oberhauser are one of the best one-two punches in the state, with Oberhauser being one of the best stat-sheet stuffers around. This is a deep and balanced team that can pressure teams defensively all night, and they’ll cause lots of issues with their length and athleticism. They’ve beaten Dike-New Hartford on the road by 12 and Wapsie Valley at home by 10 already this season, and look like they should keep rolling.
Toughest remaining games: 1/20 vs. Dunkerton, 1/23 vs. Dike-New Hartford, 2/8 at Wapsie Valley
Will they go undefeated? Yes. They haven’t played a game decided by fewer than 10 points so far this season, with wins against two of the three most difficult opponents left on the slate. They should enter postseason play with a big ‘ole “0” in the loss column.
About the Cougars: The Cougars entered the season ranked No. 2 in our poll and have been ranked in the top three all season. They’re allowing just 40.4 points a game, but have escaped in a pair of close games at home against Camanche (59-58 in OT) and Northeast, Goose Lake (58-55). Haris Hoffman (14.4) leads three in double figures, and all five starters average at least 7.8 points a game. This is a group that protects the ball, turning the ball over only eight times a game.
Toughest remaining games: 1/20 vs. Osage, 1/23 at Camanche, 2/6 at Northeast, Goose Lake
Will they go undefeated? No. The Cougars were lucky to escape their home tilt against Camanche, and we think that either Camanche or Northeast will get revenge in the return meetings. But make no mistake, this is still going to be one of the favorites to take home the 2A title come March.
Western Christian (12-0)
About the Wolfpack: The two-time defending champions lost quite a bit off of last year’s team, but there is no other program in the state outside of Iowa City West that reloads like this one does. The ‘Pack have already beaten seven 3A teams, and the inside-out duo of Jacob Vis (18.8) and Caleb Harmsen (15.9) are dynamic. They have a really tough schedule moving forward, with games against the top three teams in South Dakota’s Class A (second largest class), as well as three more games against good 3A teams. If the Wolfpack make it through the rest of the schedule unblemished, they’ll have really earned it.
Toughest remaining games: 1/19 vs. Tea Area (SD), 1/27 vs. Sioux City Bishop Heelan, 1/30 vs. Storm Lake, 2/3 at Madison (SD), 2/6 at LeMars, 2/8 vs. Sioux Falls Christian (SD)
Will they go undefeated? No. The Wolfpack are great, but at some point they should slip up against this beast of a schedule.
East Marshall (11-0)
About the Mustangs: The ‘Stangs have played a couple of tight games, beating West Marshall by five and Hudson by just two, but they’re undefeated nonetheless. Zaine Leedom (17.9), Zane Johnson (15.4) and Tyler DeBondt (10.2) are one of the best trios in the class, and they have role players who understand their roles and play them well. Games against Gladbrook-Reinbeck and West Marshall could be tricky, but they’ll be favored in every game they have remaining on the schedule.
Toughest remaining games: 1/30 vs. Gladbrook-Reinbeck, 2/2 vs. West Marshall
Will they go undefeated? Yes. The West Marshall game will be tough, but the ‘Stangs hold a sizable advantage on the glass, which should help carry them through.
South Hamilton (14-0)
About the Hawks: Four players average between 11.2 and 14.0 points a game for the Hawks, giving them plenty of balance. They’ve won four games by single digits, including a road win over PCM by two in overtime. With Marco Balderas back in the lineup (he missed six games), they’ll be really tough to beat. Conner Hill is a fantastic perimeter defender and should be able to help limit Parker Badding of Kuemper Catholic, meaning the most difficult game left may be against conference rival PCM, which they get at home.
Toughest remaining games: 1/26 vs. PCM, Monroe, 1/30 at Greene County, 2/8 vs. Kuemper Catholic
Will they go undefeated? No. Call it a gut feeling more than anything else, but we think that either PCM or Greene County will pick off the Hawks and they’ll head into postseason play at 20-1.
About the Cardinals: The most surprising undefeated team in 2A, the Cardinals have rolled to a 12-0 mark by being high level on both ends of the floor. They rank 7th in 2A in scoring offense (68.6) and 6th in scoring defense (42.9). The guard tandem of Dillon Faubel and Jack Stogdill have combined for 120 assists to just 40 turnovers, and as a team, they’ve been one of the best teams in the state at protecting the ball. Jon Schwarte balances them out with his rim protection, and Luke Clausen (16.6) is a high-level scorer. A pair of difficult 3A games remain, including one at Heelan, one of the top 3A teams in the state.
Toughest remaining games: 1/20 at Sioux City Bishop Heelan, 2/9 vs. Atlantic
Will they go undefeated? No. The road trip to Heelan to take on Elijah Hazekamp and crew should prove to be too much for this group. But they can certainly run the rest of the table and take a 20-1 record into postseason play.