Posted On: 02/6/18 2:30 PM
The favorite: Defending champion Grand View Christian is cruising along at 17-0, despite having really stepped up the schedule this season after leaving the Bluegrass Conference. The Thunder have one of the two best backcourts in 1A with Grant DeMeulenaere (23.5) and Mach Nyaw (15.1) leading the way and pacing a high-powered attack. Arturo Montes (11.5) gives them some size and physicality in the paint, and the new addition of transfer Issa Samake gives the Thunder a fantastic rim protector who should control the painted area against every team GVC plays. He’s blocking four shots a game and is a tremendous athlete who will be tough to score against. The Thunder are on a quest to repeat, and they should roll through this district. They’ve already beaten Ankeny Christian, their top competitor, and did so without Samake in the rotation.
The biggest threat: Ankeny Christian Academy has only lost three games this season, the one to Grand View, and a pair to 2A Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont. The Eagles have a solid three-headed monster with Drew Wilken (17.9), Caleb Grizzle (13.3) and Jayce Goergen (11.3) leading the way. Wilken and Goergen are both tough guards who do a tremendous job getting to the rim and the free throw line, and Grizzle is the type of big man who could potentially be a difficult matchup for GVC. He’s a stretch-forward who can draw Samake away from the rim, but this group doesn’t quite have enough on the defensive end to keep up with the Thunder in the district final.
The dark horse: Colo-Nesco probably has the best player in the district not on the GVC or ACA rosters, but they’ll be running into the Thunder in the semifinal, and that likely won’t go well. So the dark horse is Madrid, who will get ACA in the semifinal (provided they beat Melcher-Dallas). They have a three-headed attack with Braden Gibbons (12.9), Devin Fuson (11.9) and Landen Burke (10.3) leading the way. They’re not a great defensive team, so they’ll need to outscore a really talented ACA offensive unit, which will be a tough task. There doesn’t appear to be much preventing a GVC-ACA rematch in the district final.
Players to watch
2018 Grant DeMeulenaere, Grand View Christian
2019 Mach Nyaw, Grand View Christian
2019 Issa Samake, Grand View Christian
2019 Arturo Montes, Grand View Christian
2018 Drew Wilken, Ankeny Christian Academy
2019 Caleb Grizzle, Ankeny Christian Academy
2020 Braden Gibbons, Madrid
2018 Matthew Hill, Colo-Nesco
2019 Will Clapper, Baxter
The favorite: There is almost nothing separating the top two teams in this district, as Martensdale-St. Mary’s and Central Decatur split their two meetings, with MSM winning by three and CD winning by one. Two points separated them this year. And in a battle that close, we’ll give the slightest of edges to the Blue Devils of Martensdale-St. Mary’s. Brady Gavin (26.9 points, 16.6 rebounds) is the best player in the district, and he should be able to have his way against CD like he did in the first two meetings, when he averaged 23.5 points and 14.5 rebounds on 19-27 shooting. Both of the games have been played well below their scoring averages, and while that may generally favor good guards, we’ll take MSM because of Gavin.
The biggest threat: Central Decatur is a really solid team, with a really good guard in Carter Boothe (18.9), who has also dished out 149 assists this year. If Grant Atwood (13.4) is able to help limit Gavin’s effectiveness in the district final, it certainly wouldn’t surprise us to see the Cardinals advance. They are the district’s top seed for a reason.
The dark horse: If Trent Williamson was healthy for Earlham, they may actually be the favorite to come out of the district. But he’s not healthy, and the Cardinals suffer for it. Instead, Mormon Trail becomes the district’s dark horse team who could cause some issues. They’re an explosive offensive team, averaging 72.1 points a game, and they have four players averaging in double figures, led by Parker Hitt (17.3). They have a quartet of players who can all shoot it, and if they’re able to knock down some shots, they could make some noise.
Players to watch
2018 Brady Gavin, Martensdale-St. Mary’s
2018 Carter Boothe, Central Decatur
2018 Grant Atwood, Central Decatur
2019 Parker Hitt, Mormon Trail
SUBSTATE FINAL PREDICTION
Grand View Christian vs. Martensdale-St. Mary’s
This one likely will be one of the bigger blowouts in substate final action. Grand View Christian has the answer for Gavin on the interior with Montes and Samake, while MSM doesn’t have an answer for the athleticism and talent that the Thunder have in the backcourt. The Thunder get back to State and have a chance to defend their title.