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Posted On: 01/13/18 10:20 AM
CEDAR FALLS — Future Northern Iowa Panther guard AJ Green was too much to overcome for Dubuque Senior, as the Class 4A 10th ranked Rams fell to Green and Cedar Falls on Friday night, 67-57.
The future UNI, and current Cedar Falls, star was outstanding all evening, but it was his work in the first half that allowed the Tigers to build a lead that they would never relinquish. Green scored 14 points in the first quarter, and 22 in the first half, to help the Tigers head to the locker rooms with a 10-point, 38-28, lead.
The second half saw Green’s running mates get more involved, as juniors Jackson Frericks and Logan Wolf combined to score 15 second half points and make some big plays on the defensive end to help keep a game Senior squad at bay. The Rams were able to cut the lead down to as little as eight in the fourth quarter, but never got any closer.
Cedar Falls (7-3) won their fourth straight game. They were led by AJ Green, who had 31 points on 12-18 shooting (7-10 3P). Logan Wolf and Jackson Frericks each added 10 in the win.
Dubuque Senior (8-3) was led by Marshaun Carroll, who had 12 points. Nick Timmerman added 10 in the loss for the Rams, who are still playing without star forward Noah Carter, who is sidelined following surgery on his leg for compartment syndrome.
Dubuque Senior: Marshaun Carroll 12, Nick Timmerman 10, Carter Stevens 9, Landon Hermsen 9, Sam Link 8, Joseph Kruse 5, Josiah Harris 2, Austin Manders 2
Cedar Falls: AJ Green 31, Logan Wolf 10, Jackson Frericks 10, Jack Campbell 7, Ben Gerdes 4, Reese Gardner 3, Sam Gary 2
What is the ceiling for Cedar Falls?
They have one of the state’s most dangerous players in AJ Green, so their ceiling is as high as anybody in the state. This is a potential state champion. That said, if Green isn’t clicking (see last year’s substate final against Cedar Rapids Kennedy, for example), I’m not sure this group has enough else to beat good teams. Logan Wolf, Jackson Frericks, Ben Gerdes and Jack Campbell are nice role players, but this team will live and die by AJ Green against upper-echelon competition. They may have the biggest floor to ceiling gap of any of the serious contenders in Class 4A.
Will Noah Carter return this season for Dubuque Senior?
Carter has only played in two games this season for the Rams, sidelined by an emergency surgery on his leg to deal with compartment syndrome. The obvious real concern is his future and getting back and ready to play over the summer for his all-important 17U year. But after talking to him before Friday’s game, he expressed some optimism that he could return this season. He was cleared to begin running a few days ago, and there is a chance he’s back in a Rams uniform before the season is over. Likely with a minutes restriction, but getting a player of his caliber back on the floor would be a huge boost to the Rams, who would immediately become one of the biggest threats to Iowa City West in 4A.
If Carter isn’t able to return, what is the ceiling for the Rams?
In the unfortunate event that Carter isn’t able to make a return to the floor, the Rams likely turn into a potential state tournament team, given the right draw in substate (if he’s healthy and playing, they’re one of the state’s best teams, and a heavy favorite to make it to state, regardless of the draw). Carter Stevens is a great player and guard to carry the team, but with his size (5-9), he may struggle to get his own shot against the high-level athletes that you’ll run into the closer to state you get. Carter’s ability to score inside and out, control the glass and take pressure off of Stevens, Marshaun Carroll, Sam Link and Nick Timmerman opens everything up for his teammates. If they could draw a team from the MAC instead of Hempstead, they would have a chance to return to state without Carter. If they’re grouped with Hempstead, I don’t like their chances unless Carter is on the floor.
How do you defend AJ Green?
Simple answer, you don’t. Green went 12-18 from the floor, including 7-10 from behind the arc, and every shot that he took with the exception of a shot right before halftime, was extremely well defended. He’s the best tough shot maker I’ve ever seen at the high school level, as his unorthodox looking release, cocking the ball well behind his head to shoot, actually benefits him and allows him a few extra inches of space, which is deadly. So, how do you go about playing defense on him? The best answer may be to make him work really, really hard on the defensive end. Run whoever he’s guarding off of screen after screen. Try to wear him down physically on that end of the floor with long possessions where he has to exert lots of energy. When the Tigers have the ball, you may want to run doubles at him on random possessions to throw him off his game a bit, make him get rid of the ball. Because if he has the ball and he’s allowed to play one-on-one, he’s going to score much more often than not.
Speaking of Green, where does he rank among the best shot makers the state has seen?
I’ve been covering or closely watching high school basketball around the state since about 2004, and Green ranks as the best shot maker I’ve seen. His ability to make tough shots is unrivaled. As mentioned early, every shot he took with the exception of one was highly contested, but he still shot 67% from the floor and was 7-10 from deep. Marcus Paige, Harrison Barnes, Wyatt Lohaus, Joe Wieskamp, etc. – all great shot makers. But none routinely made as tough, as contested shots as Green has developed the ability to consistently make.