Posted On: 02/8/18 8:30 AM
The favorite: The Kuemper Catholic Knights don’t have the glossy record that Logan-Magnolia has, but having gone through the Hawkeye 10 Conference and a slew of 3A teams, they’re battle tested. The Knights are led by one of the best shooting tandems in the state in Parker Badding (23.3, 41.8 3P%) and Sam Auen (14.3, 41.7 3P%). As a team, the Knights shoot 40.5% from behind the arc and score more than 70 points a game. Keep in mind that those numbers are coming against much tougher competition than most other 2A teams are seeing, as well. With the explosiveness Kuemper has, they should be able to steamroll through the district and into the substate final.
The biggest threat: Logan-Magnolia has won nine of their last 11 games and possess the most balanced offense in the district with four players averaging in double figures. Kolby Morrison (15.5) leads the attack, and he’s one of four players the Panthers are able to put around Jesup Lake (13.6) that can shoot the basketball. They’re allowing just 51.1 points a game, and will look to slow a meeting with Kuemper down. If they can do that, they could potentially make enough shots to pull the upset.
The dark horse: It took a while for MVAOCOU to get things rolling, starting the season off 5-7. But they’ve now won seven straight games and are peaking at the right time with plenty of state tournament experience (1A) on the roster. Colby Seuntjens (16.8) is a talented, athletic wing who can take a game over on either end, and Connor Beeck (13.6) is a really good shooter who can get hot and carry a team. This group is experienced and won’t be intimidated by anyone.
Players to watch
2018 Parker Badding, Kuemper Catholic
2018 Sam Auen, Kuemper Catholic
2018 Kolby Morrison, Logan-Magnolia
2019 Jesup Lake, Logan-Magnolia
2018 Colby Seuntjens, MVAOCOU
2018 Connor Beeck, MVAOCOU
2018 Levi Olhausen, East Sac County
2019 Brandyn Clair, East Sac County
2019 Kaden Ladwig, OA-BCIG
The favorite: Welcome to the Group of Death. Two-time defending champions in Classs 2A, the Western Christian Wolfpack have to be considered the favorite in the district, but it’s not going to be easy. The Pack haven’t lost to an Iowa team yet this season, and they look like a more traditional Western Christian team, riding the back of a really talented big man. That big man this year is Jacob Vis (18.8, 70.1 FG%), who can dominate games on both ends of the floor. Caleb Harmsen (14.0, 43.1 3P%) pairs with him to give them a really dangerous one-two punch. They’ve played the most difficult schedule in Class 2A and have gone through it nearly unscathed, so they’re the favorite to come out of the district.
The biggest threat: It’s difficult to pinpoint who the biggest threat to Western Christian is, because the 2nd through 5th seeded teams in the district are all strong. That said, the team that probably could match up best with the Wolfpack is Rock Valley. The Rockets have gone through the difficult Siouxland Conference and had their ups and downs, but they have tremendous size with the 6-11 Jason Taylor (12.5, 63 blocks), who could limit Vis and make the Pack become a more perimeter oriented group. Rock Valley recently lost to likely semifinal opponent Unity Christian in a game in which they were held to 30.4% shooting. We anticipate that number being a little bit better in a rematch and them making it through to the district final. They have four players averaging in double figures and have a really balanced attack that can be difficult to prep for.
The dark horse: Unity Christian has already beaten Rock Valley, so it’s hard to call them too much of a dark horse, but they’ll have their hands full if they reach Western Christian, who they lost to by 13 in January. The Knights have a different player leading the way every night, with nine players averaging between 4.0 and 9.4 points a game, and they’re the deepest team in the district, so foul trouble won’t impact them too much. Sam Byker (48.4 3P%) and Kolin Kroeze (36.8 3P%) can carry this group if they can get hot, and as they showed in the win over Rock Valley, they’re strong on the defensive end.
Players to watch
2019 Jacob Vis, Western Christian
2018 Caleb Harmsen, Western Christian
2018 Jason Taylor, Rock Valley
2019 Brayton Van Kekerix, Rock Valley
2018 Cade Moser, Rock Valley
2018 Sam Byker, Unity Christian
2018 Micah Meyer, West Lyon
2020 Hunter Dekkers, West Sioux
SUBSTATE FINAL PREDICTION
Kuemper Catholic vs. Western Christian
If this game ends up happening, it’ll be one of the best games of the season, and not just in postseason play. The at times frenetic pace that Kuemper plays with will be an interesting contrast to the disciplined and at times more deliberate approach of Western Christian. The Wolfpack are the best team in Class 2A, and it’ll take one hell of an effort to knock them off, something that we just can’t see Kuemper quite pulling off. They’ll have an issue matching up with Jacob Vis, and Caleb Harmsen should give Western enough on the perimeter to get the ‘Pack back to State, with a chance at taking home their third straight state title.