Posted On: 02/6/18 8:30 AM
The favorite: This is probably the deepest district in the class in terms of quality of teams, as you could make a legitimate argument for four or five teams to come out of the district. Our favorite will be New London, who opened the season in the 1A top 10, and now are finally playing with their full roster after getting Mason Porter (9.7) back from injury. Porter, Keontae Luckett (13.6), Isaac McSorley (17.2), Grant Swanson (14.8) and Alex Dentlinger (13.4) were all key pieces for a Tigers team that qualified for State last year, and that experience will make them a favorite to come out of the district. They’re an efficient offensive team that thrives on getting to the rim, and they should be able to do so against every team in this district.
The biggest threat: The South Division of the Southeast Iowa Super Conference (SEISC) was the stronger division this year, and Burlington, Notre Dame, New London’s likely semifinal opponent, is the biggest threat to the Tigers in the district. They split the season series, and the Nikes have a pair of guards in Ryle Koenig (17.9) and Jett Tjaden (14.5) who can have big games on any given night. In the win against New London, that duo combined for 44 points on 16-23 shooting, and in the loss they scored 28 points on 11-34 shooting, so as they go, the Nikes will go.
The dark horse(s): It’s tough to call the district’s top seed a “dark horse”, but Iowa Mennonite has benefited from a down North Division this year, beating everyone except 2A Wapello this year (they’ve lost twice to the Indians). They have a trio of players who average in double figures, led by Cole Ours (14.7), a dangerous shooter who could get hot and carry this group. The other teams to watch are Danville and Highland, who will play each other in the quarterfinal, then the winner will get IMS. Danville is down from where they usually are, but still have an explosive offense that is averaging 71.6 points a game, and they could get hot and outscore some teams to a district title. Highland has perhaps the best player in the district in sophomore big man Zack Lasek (20.4 points, 9.1 rebounds), and with his size and skill, he could cause a lot of issues. They’ve showed what they’re capable of, handing Wapello their only loss this season. But they’ve been far too inconsistent this season.
Players to watch
2019 Isaac McSorley, New London
2020 Grant Swanson, New London
2018 Alex Dentlinger, New London
2019 Keontae Luckett, New London
2019 Mason Porter, New London
2018 Jett Tjaden, Burlington, Notre Dame
2019 Ryle Koenig, Burlington, Notre Dame
2018 Cole Ours, Iowa Mennonite
2019 Max Wilcox, Danville
2020 Taylor Kennsett, Danville
2020 Zack Lasek, Highland
The favorite: The district’s top seed is Lynnville-Sully, and they have to be considered the favorite here. They’ve swept Montezuma and are riding one of the state’s best defenses, allowing just 44.4 points a game. The Hawks are led by Jesse Van Wyk (15.2), and are much more explosive offensively than they have been in previous years, averaging 68 points a night. Previous versions of the Hawks would be looking to play games in the 50s, but this group is just as comfortable getting up-and-down as they are in a grind, which will benefit them. Van Wyk is going to be the best player on the floor in every game throughout this ride, and he should carry them to a district title. They’re experienced, talented and they’re going to defend.
The biggest threat: Montezuma is 17-2, with their two losses coming to Lynnville-Sully. They were blown out in the season opener by 30, but played the Hawks to a much tighter game, 10 points, a few weeks ago (and really, that game was a 4-6 poin game for most of the evening). Freshman guard Trey Shearer (17.2) is super talented, and the Braves have a stifling 2-3 zone that is allowing just 38.8 points a night. They have a pair of big men in Hunter Ray and Vance Bushong who have combined to block 93 shots, and that type of rim protection can come in handy. After playing Lynnville-Sully tight a few weeks ago, this group has to believe they’re close to getting over the hump against the Hawks, and a district final between the two will be entertaining.
The dark horse: This is largely a two-team district, but if anyone else is going to come out of it, it’s going to be Keota. The Eagles have a pair of 3-point shooters in JD Stout (23.3) and Hunter Wilson (12.3) who could get hot and shoot them to a few wins. But they’ll likely struggle to defend either team.
Players to watch
2018 Jesse Van Wyk, Lynnville-Sully
2018 Brevin Hansen, Lynnville-Sully
2018 Tanner Foster, Lynnville-Sully
2021 Trey Shearer, Montezuma
2019 Hunter Ray, Montezuma
2018 Vance Bushong, Montezuma
2020 JD Stout, Keota
SUBSTATE FINAL PREDICTION
New London vs. Lynnville-Sully
This is an interesting matchup between a pair of state qualifiers from last year, and each team is very experienced. If Mason Porter was still sidelined, we’d probably take Lynnville-Sully here, but with New London now having their full lineup back in tact, we’ll take the Tigers here in a tight one.