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Posted On: 02/9/18 3:30 PM
The favorite: Dyersville Beckman has played the toughest schedule in the district, and that should benefit them here. The Blazers have a trio of double figure scorers in Mitch Gehling (16.6), Jackson Bennett (13.7) and Michael Keegan (12.3), and Gehling’s versatility/ability to score inside and out at 6-6 should be tough for any team in the district to slow down.
The biggest threat: 6-2 junior guard Michael Sweeney (21.0) of Waukon is probably the best individual player in the district, and if he’s able to get things rolling, he could take the Indians to a pair of wins and a district crown. The Indians are the highest scoring team in the district at 66.1 points a game, but they’re also the worst defensive team of the contenders, allowing 61.6. Beckman should have no issues scoring against them, and they’ll need to tighten that up if they want to play for the chance to go to State.
The dark horse: Jesup lead guard Cade Nolan has dished out 106 assists this year and takes relatively good care of the basketball. If he’s able to control the tempo and get the J-Hawks offense rolling against some porous defenses, they could make some noise. The duo of Joey Youngblut and Landon Borrett can compete on the glass against the likes of Gehling, but they’ll need someone to get hot from deep if they’re going to string together three straight wins.
Players to watch
2020 Michael Keegan, Dyersville Beckman
2018 Mitchel Gehling, Dyersville Beckman
2018 Jackson Bennett, Dyersville Beckman
2019 Michael Sweeney, Waukon
2018 Isaiah Welch, Waukon
2018 Joey Youngblut, Jesup
2018 Dylan McCombs, Jesup
2019 Dom Robertson, Oelwein
The favorite: Cascade has been in the top three of the 2A rankings all season long, and finally suffered their first loss of the season in their regular season finale. Per usual, the Cougars are strong on the defensive end, allowing just 42.1 points a game, which is 5th in 2A. This year’s group is a bit more potent offensively than previous versions have been, however. They’re averaging just under 61 points a game, and the starting five are all capable of leading the team in scoring on any given night. This group is always going to be incredibly disciplined on both ends of the floor, and they’re one of the best teams in 2A at protecting the ball (314 assists to 178 turnovers). This is also one of the most experienced teams in the state, which can’t be overstated. With the length they possess in their vaunted 2-3 zone, they’ll be tough to score against, and they’ve already beaten Regina, their biggest threat in the district, by 19 earlier this season.
The biggest threat: The No. 2 seed in the district is Regina, and the Regals have been as hot as just about any team in the state of late. They’re currently riding an eight-game winning streak (as of this writing on the morning of Feb. 8), and they’re allowing just 38.8 points a game during that stretch. The improved effort on the defensive end is what is carrying this team, and they’re probably the most talented team in the district. They have the pieces that you want if you’re going to beat Cascade, with a talented big man who can make plays out of the high or low post in Even Brauns, and a number of shooters around him with guys like Jocoa Kerschen, Masen Miller and Jake Phillips. They lost by 19 to Cascade earlier in the season, but that game was played before the holiday break, and they trailed by just two at the half before it got away from them in the third quarter. This group has grown a lot since then, and it certainly wouldn’t surprise us one bit if they’re the ones playing with the chance to go to State.
The dark horse: Each of the remaining teams in the district is flawed, but of those four, it’s West Branch that has the biggest threat in Beau Cornwell (23.2). A gunner of a guard, he’s a player who can get red hot and carry his team to three wins (or he can shoot them out of a game). Either way, if any team not named Cascade or Regina is coming out of here, it’ll be the Cornwell-led Bears.
Players to watch
2018 Brock Simon, Cascade
2018 Johnny Supple, Cascade
2018 Gannon O’Brien, Cascade
2019 Haris Hoffman, Cascade
2018 Jocoa Kerschen, Iowa City Regina
2020 Masen Miller, Iowa City Regina
2020 Even Brauns, Iowa City Regina
2019 Beau Cornwell, West Branch
2018 Cade Daugherty, Bellevue
2018 Kyle Sperfslage, Monticello
2018 Alex Nealson, Monticello
SUBSTATE FINAL PREDICTION
Dyersville Beckman vs. Cascade
Add another chapter to this rivalry, and with a shot at the state tournament on the line, this one could be good. But at the end of the day, Cascade’s experience and their 2-3 zone just smothers Beckman and the Cougars punch their tickets to Des Moines.