Posted On: 02/19/18 8:00 AM
The favorite: You’d be hard pressed to find a substate in any class where the top two teams are more evenly matched than here. Waukee and Dowling went to overtime in their lone meeting this season, with the Warriors pulling it out in the extra session, 55-46. The Warriors have the fourth ranked scoring defense in 4A, allowing just 46.9 points a game, and their starting lineup provides them with lots of defensive versatility. They’re led by a trio of double figure scorers in Nathan Johnson (12.4), Dylan Jones (10.9) and Nathan Nelson (10.9), and they’re a team that can be relied upon to score with their size in the paint. That ability to score easier is what separates them from the Maroons.
The biggest threat: Another really strong defensive team, Dowling allows just 47.5 points a game, which ranked sixth in 4A. The Maroons are headlined by lead guard Sam Ingoli (14.9), who will be headed to Northern Iowa to play football next year. He’s a big, physical guard who get into the paint and finish or distribute. John Waggoner (9.3) provides a big body in the paint, and they can put a trio of shooters around that duo with Luke Yacinich, Blake Clark and Sam McMurray. The Maroons are slightly more reliant on shooting to score than the Warriors are, which is why in such a defensive battle, we give the edge to Waukee. But we most definitely wouldn’t be surprised to see this big, physical defensive team make their way down the street to Wells Fargo.
Others who could make some noise: This substate has three other teams who can push Waukee and Dowling, and have a chance to making a run to State – Roosevelt, Newton and Indianola.
Roosevelt has the ninth ranked scoring defense in 4A, allowing just 49.0 points a game. The Rough Riders aren’t an explosive offense by any stretch of the imagination, averaging 48.9 points a game, but they use that defense and a slow tempo to keep themselves in games. They’re 9-12, but eight of those losses have come by less than ten points. Cade Moritz (12.5) is a 6-8 big man who can control the painted area on both ends of the floor, and they have a lot of other pieces who contribute. With the defense the Riders play, they’ll be in every game.
The best player in the substate is Newton’s Garrett Sturtz, who is averaging 33.8 points a game and has attempted more free throws than more than half the teams in 4A. The 6-4 guard will get his no matter what else is happening, and the Cardinals are able to put a trio of good shooters around him in Aaron Bartels, Kyle Long and Grant Garvis. If Sturtz can get things rolling, he’s capable of carrying this team to State.
The final team to watch here is Indianola, one of 4A’s most improved teams this season. The Indians are 14-7 and split with Newton, their first round opponent, this season. They have a strong guard tandem with Evan Gauger (19.4) and Quinn Vesey (13.0) who are capable of carrying them to wins, and they’ve proven they can beat good teams with wins over Oskaloosa, Norwalk and Newton. And while those teams aren’t quite Waukee or Dowling, they’re high quality teams that have shown the Indians are for real.
Players to watch
2018 Nathan Johnson, Waukee
2019 Dylan Jones, Waukee
2019 Noah Hart, Waukee
2018 Sam Ingoli, West Des Moines Dowling
2018 Cade Mortiz, Des Moines Roosevelt
2018 Garrett Sturtz, Newton
2019 Evan Gauger, Indianola
2019 Quinn Vesey, Indianola
2018 Willie Tunks, Southeast Polk
SUBSTATE FINAL PREDICTION
Waukee vs. West Des Moines Dowling (game played at a yet to be determined location)
Given the defensive abilities, slower paced offenses and the stakes involved in this game, there’s a real chance it could be played in the high 30s or low 40s. Waukee won the first meeting, and the Warriors have a more consistent method of scoring, so we’re going with them here. The Warriors get back to State for the first time since 2015.