Posted On: 02/18/18 12:30 PM
The favorite: This is the most competitive substate in 4A. BC Moore’s rankings have the top five teams separated by just eight points in his rankings, but the top seed Pleasant Valley has to be considered the favorite. The Spartans have the top scoring defense in 4A, allowing just 41.5 points a game this season. This is a group that plays at a very methodical pace, and tries to smother you with their defense, and beat you up with their toughness and physicality throughout the course of the game. They have a trio of double figure scorers leading the way with guards Carter Duwa (14.0) and Hunter Snyder (12.3), and big man Brian Dayman (13.1). Dayman actually handles the ball quite a bit as well, leading the team in assists, and at 6-7, presents loads of versatility on the defensive end. This team doesn’t have much traditional size, but they have lots of length and are a really physical, well coached group. That said, they aren’t a team that forces turnovers, and aren’t really built to come from behind. They play tremendous defense and forces teams into taking tough shots, but if a team like Linn-Mar, with all their shooting, is able to jump out to a lead on them, it’ll be difficult for this group to come back. This substate is going to be very interesting.
The biggest threat(s): The biggest threat is also a team that is entirely capable of losing in their first round game, and it’s the Linn-Mar Lions. As a matter of fact, whichever team wins that 4-5 matchup is a huge threat to PV.
Linn-Mar has the single best player in the substate not named Wieskamp in junior wing Trey Hutcheson (18.0, 39.5 3P%), and he leads a group that is loaded with shooters. The Lions have had a very up-and-down year, entering postseason play at just 11-11, but seven of those losses have come to teams that are currently ranked in the top seven in either 3A (Xavier, Mount Pleasant) or 4A (Iowa City West, Senior, Cedar Falls), so they’re battle tested. With Hutcheson, Nate Annis and Jack Gertsen, they actually have some size that could hang with PV on the glass, and if they can get hot early and jump out to a lead, PV will struggle to catch up against their firepower from the arc.
Jefferson is small, and PV would beat them up on the glass, but they’re extremely athletic and quick, and they’ll attempt to speed the game against the Spartans up. They’re loaded with guards who are capable of lighting it up from the arc with Willie Guy (16.7, 38.4 3P%), Kyler Bell (13.0, 43.8%), Ozzie Meiborg (11.5, 32.1%) and Blaze Bouzek (5.3, 43.2%). Jefferson actually beat Linn-Mar by a point a week or so ago, so it wouldn’t surprise us at all to see them matched up with PV in the semifinal. Whichever MVC team gets there will test the Spartans with their shooting.
Others who could make some noise: With the exception of winless Burlington, any of the other five teams in the substate are viable threats to win it, which means that whichever of Muscatine or Davenport North comes out of the bottom of the bracket will be heard from in the substate final.
North has won eight of 11 games since Lacey Watson became eligible and joined the lineup. The Wildcats have lots of scoring options they can put on the floor, and they have loads of length and athleticism on the defensive end. The ‘Cats are led by lead guard VJ Wilmington (14.0), who leads a talented group of scorers with Max Taylor (13.2), Watson (12.8), TJ Vesey (10.6) and Keenan Hollingshed (8.3) as the other primary options. Jared Beck (5.5) adds another dimension to this group, as at 6-11, he’s a huge body that will protect the rim on the defensive end. The issue that this group runs into is that they aren’t a great perimeter shooting team, and the Muscatine zone has flummoxed them in a pair of meetings, so they’ll have their hands full in the semifinals. That said, if they can get by the Muskies, they beat PV a few weeks ago and can do so again to make a trip to State.
Muscatine is pretty simple. They have one of the best players to ever come through the state on their side, and that alone will make them dangerous in every game. Iowa signee Joe Wieskamp is averaging 34.6 points a game, is capable of scoring from anywhere, and dominates the glass. If the Muskies are able to provide any help to him, they can beat anyone.
Players to watch
2019 Carter Duwa, Pleasant Valley
2019 Hunter Snyder, Pleasant Valley
2018 Brian Dayman, Pleasant Valley
2019 Trey Hutcheson, Linn-Mar
2018 Jacob Robertson, Linn-Mar
2019 Willie Guy, Cedar Rapids Jefferson
2020 Ozzie Meiborg, Cedar Rapids Jefferson
2018 Kyler Bell, Cedar Rapids Jefferson
2018 VJ Wilmington, Davenport North
2018 Max Taylor, Davenport North
2018 Lacey Watson, Davenport North
2018 Joe Wieskamp, Muscatine
SUBSTATE FINAL PREDICTION
Pleasant Valley vs. Muscatine (game played at US Cellular Center, Cedar Rapids)
This is actually a bizarre substate, because you could make an argument that the three best teams are in the top half of the bracket, and the “real” substate final is played in the semifinals, and we really could see any combination of Pleasant Valley/Linn-Mar/Jefferson taking on Muscatine/North. That said, these are the two teams we see making it out of their respective brackets, and if this is the case, it’ll be Pleasant Valley punching their ticket to Des Moines. The Spartans are the best defensive team, and the best equipped to defend Wieskamp and company.