Posted On: 02/17/18 1:00 PM
The favorite: The top two teams in this substate just played an epic game on Tuesday, with Hempstead winning 70-69 on a last second layup by Wil Courtney. The Mustangs played a fantastic game there, shooting 26-45 from the floor (11-18 from the arc) and winning despite AJ Green going for 30 points. Yet, we’re still making Cedar Falls the favorite here. Why? While Hempstead’s Lucas Duax is fantastic, it’s Green who will be the best player on the floor when these two teams almost inevitably meet at the McLeod Center, and when two teams are this tightly grouped together, we’ll take the team with the best player. The future Northern Iowa Panther is averaging 26.6 points a game, and is one of the most potent players the state has seen in years with his ability to score from all three levels. Logan Wolf (12.5) adds another dimension on the perimeter with his length and defensive abilities, and if the game is tight late, Green is 100-108 from the free throw line, so he’ll be trusted to ice the game away.
The biggest threat: Considering they beat Cedar Falls just a few days ago, it certainly wouldn’t surprise us to see Hempstead beat the Tigers again to get to State. The Mustangs have a fantastic duo in Lucas Duax (18.7) and Keith Johnson (15.3), a pair of highly athletic players who are capable of dominating games on the perimeter and in the paint. Duax is one of the smoothest players in the state, capable of taking over a game, and he’ll pair with Johnson to throw some length and athleticism at Green on the defensive end to at least contest his shots. The two players who have the ball the most (Duax and Johnson) are both around 75% free throw shooters, so they’re strong there as well, but not quite to the level of Green.
Others who could make some noise: The one team outside of Cedar Falls and Hempstead that could navigate their way through this tricky group is Waterloo West. The Wahawks have proven capable of beating high quality teams with wins over Cedar Rapids Xavier and Cedar Falls, and they’re one of the best scoring teams in 4A, averaging 63 points a game, which is 11th in the class. Carondis Harris-Anderson (22.3) is one of the best scorers in the state, capable of taking over games, and he, Isaiah Johnson (11.2, 45.7 3P%) and Nick Pepin (9.1, 37.5 3P%) can all stroke it from deep. This is a group that has been really inconsistent on the defensive end, but if they play to their ability on that end, they’re capable of beating anyone.
Players to watch
2018 AJ Green, Cedar Falls
2019 Logan Wolf, Cedar Falls
2018 Lucas Duax, Dubuque Hempstead
2018 Keith Johnson, Dubuque Hempstead
2018 Carondis Harris-Anderson, Waterloo West
2020 Isaiah Johnson, Waterloo West
2019 Tyrese Nickelson, Waterloo East
2018 TreyShawn LaBeaux, Waterloo East
2018 Jordan Lake, Western Dubuque
SUBSTATE FINAL PREDICTION
Cedar Falls vs. Dubuque Hempstead (game played at McLeod Center, Cedar Falls)
That epic game these two played earlier in the week will be nearly impossible to live up to, but if this even comes close, it’ll be the best substate final in the state, regardless of class. This game is a complete coin flip, but we’re giving the edge to AJ Green and Cedar Falls. Green goes for 35ish points and carries the Tigers to State in another fantastic meeting.