Posted On: 02/19/18 5:00 PM
The favorite: The top two teams in this substate aren’t separated by much, and they’re quite different in their styles of play. Johnston has the fifth scoring defense (47.1), North has the top scoring offense (78.8). The difference here is that while Johnston also has a solid offensive team (62.1, 13th), North is in the bottom five in scoring defense in 4A, allowing 66.5 points a night. And that’s why we’re giving the Johnston Dragons the slightest edge here. Johnston has a ton of length and athleticism on the defensive end, and they’ve proven capable of shutting quality teams down with that length. Peyton Williams (12.6) patrols the interior and is a big body who can dominate the paint on both ends, and they put a number of quality shooters around him with Camden Vander Zwaag (14.6, 35.0 3P%), Boston Grimes (14.4, 47.8%) and Bo Sandquist (10.5, 42.0%). There is a bit of a concern with their lack of depth (in their regular season finale against Hoover they only played five players until the game was decided with 1:55 left). If someone gets into foul trouble, they could be in trouble.
The biggest threat: The North Polar Bears have the substate’s (and one of the state’s) best player in Tyreke Locure (27.5), who is fully capable of taking over any game on either end with his quickness. The pace the Polar Bears play at is blistering, as they’ve attempted 161 shots more than any other team in 4A, and if they’re able to dictate the tempo, they’ll be the favorite in any game they play in. It’s how well they adjust to playing in more of a halfcourt game that will determine whether or not they come out of this substate. Debo Kallo (13.8), Jaihon McCaleb (11.2), Lino Malual (10.7) and Gatdoar Bijiek (7.3) pair with Locure to give this group five shooters on the floor at all times, and if they’re knocking down their shots, watch out.
Others who could make some noise: There are three other teams in this substate who could make things interesting – Fort Dodge, Ames and Ankeny.
Fort Dodge has won six of their last seven games heading into postseason play, and the Dodgers carry one of the best defenses in the state, allowing just 48.6 points a night. Athletic guard Malcolm Clayton (17.7) leads the way, and this is a group that relies on getting to the rim to score, which will cause issues against Johnston in the semifinal, but if Clayton is able to get things going and they can lock in and lock down, they could keep things close into the fourth quarter.
Ames, like Fort Dodge, is a quality defensive team, ranking 10th at 49.6 points a game. The Little Cyclones play at a slow pace and will rely on their defense to keep things low scoring. Joe Evans (18.2) and Japannah Kellogg (12.1) are one of the better one-two punches on both ends of the floor in the state, and they’re a solid 3-point shooting team at 37.4% as a group. If they can knock down shots, they can win games. They’ll have their work cut out for them, however, trying to slow down North’s potent offense, but they can score on the Polar Bears.
Ankeny has played fairly well this season after getting their full lineup in place. Dillon Carlson (16.4) is a great guard who can control the game, and this is a group capable of scoring in bunches.
Players to watch
2018 Boston Grimes, Johnston
2018 Bo Sandquist, Johnston
2018 Camden Vander Zwaag, Johnston
2019 Peyton Williams, Johnston
2019 Tyreke Locure, Des Moines North
2018 Debo Kallo, Des Moines North
2018 Jaihon McCaleb, Des Moines North
2019 Lino Malual, Des Moines North
2018 Joe Evans, Ames
2018 Malcolm Clayton, Fort Dodge
2019 Japannah Kellogg, Ames
2019 Dillon Carlson, Ankeny
SUBSTATE FINAL PREDICTION
Johnston vs. Des Moines North (game played at a location yet to be determined)
North beat Johnston in a meeting in early December, 72-68. In the rematch, we look for Johnston to have learned from that game and use their size and physicality advantage to slow the game down a bit and pound the glass on both ends of the floor. The Dragons use their stout defense and bevy of shooters to punch their State ticket in what should be an OUTSTANDING game.