Winter Classic: Five Takeaways

High School
Iowa

Posted On: 01/8/18 8:29 PM

The annual Winter Classic took place at Wartburg College in Waverly over the weekend, with seven games featuring teams across all four classes. Below are five takeaways we had from the Classic. 

Scorelist
Anamosa 32, Waterloo Columbus 20
Waukon 57, Wapsie Valley 47
Cedar Rapids Kennedy 58, Spirit Lake 41
Crestwood 46, Gladbrook-Reinbeck 41
West Marshall 45, Union, LaPorte City 34
East Marshall 56, Dike-New Hartford 39
Jesup 55, Grundy Center 33

Owen Coburn is the real deal

It was a rough day for Spirit Lake, as the Indians were handled fairly easily by Cedar Rapids Kennedy in their game. But 6-11 junior center Owen Coburn was certainly not the issue. The South Dakota State commit had 19 points (7-9 FG, 5-8 FT) and pulled down 10 rebounds in the contest. He has everything you look for in a young big man. He’s highly mobile and vocal on the defensive end, rebounds at a high level, can score on the block with either hand and great footwork, and he passes it really well. He also has a great stroke and soft touch at the free throw line, so there is almost certainly potential there for him to expand his game out to 15-18 feet and knock down jumpers. He’s going to be a great college basketball player. It’s tough for any high school big man, because they’re heavily reliant on their guards getting them the ball, and they’re never refereed fairly. As he progresses through the ranks and into higher competition (with presumably better refs), he should thrive.

 

So is Derrick Diggins

This was my second time seeing Diggins this season. The first time I saw him, opening night, he scored 41 points. In this one, he scored 20 points on 9-10 shooting and dished out 10 assists to go with five rebounds, three steals and three blocks. The 6-3 senior guard has taken his game to another level this year. He’s always shown flashes of dominant ability with his athleticism and talent, but he’s providing consistent effort on both ends of the floor seemingly every night this year, and he’s been dominant for a Kennedy team that had quite a few question marks coming into the season. He has been outstanding, and while a year or two at a junior college to clean up everything and continue to develop may be best for him, he’s going to be a great college player as well. When he’s engaged like he has been, there are few players in the state with a better all-around skill set.

 

Longer floor, unfamiliar shooting background = ugly basketball

You can just take a look at the scores of each game and realize that this wasn’t the prettiest basketball in the world. There were a ton of missed shots, turnovers and just all-around sloppy play, and we have to think that the unusual environment had to have had at least played a part in it. I sat behind one of the benches all day, and multiple coaches referenced the longer court than most of the teams are used to when they were going through their pre-game preamble. Additionally, something was wrong with the court. Kids were slipping all over the floor in every game, and I’m not sure why. The floor wasn’t swept between games, but it shouldn’t have made that much of an impact. Either way, with a variety of factors, it wasn’t a pretty day of hoops. I’m all for these showcase type events because it’s a great way for TJ and myself to see a lot of players in a single day, but perhaps they’re better served to be played at high schools, where the backgrounds, court length and condition of the court may be more consistent to what players are used to.

 

Gladbrook-Reinbeck is scrappy

The Rebels lost last year’s Mr. Basketball in Joe Smoldt, and he took a large senior class with him. As a result, there are only eight players on the varsity roster, and only seven were on the floor on Saturday. Yet this tiny 1A school went toe-to-toe with 3A Crestwood all afternoon. Crestwood came out applying lots of pressure, speeding the game up in an obvious attempt to wear down the Rebels. But G-R never went away. This is a scrappy group, led by a talented senior wing in Caden Kickbush, that will make some noise yet again this year in 1A.

 

East Marshall is a legitimate 2A contender

The Mustangs have a really dynamic trio of players in Zaine Leedom, Zane Johnson and Tyler DeBondt, a trio that each provides a little something different. And that trio is going to be among the best trios in the 2A field come postseason time. The question will be how the rest of the rotation fits in and contributes. But this group made a statement on Saturday when they completely dominated a game against a really solid fellow 2A school, Dike-New Hartford.