STATE TOURNAMENT: Class 1A Tournament Preview

High School

Posted On: 03/1/18 9:37 AM

Jake Hilmer

No. 1 seed: North Linn (26-0)
About the Lynx: The top seeded Lynx are blasting teams by an average of 92.7-35.2 this season. Both of those numbers are the best in 1A, and the scoring offense is the best one the state has seen in decades. The closest game they’ve played this season was a 28-point win over Monticello, and their backcourt is among the best in the state, regardless of class. Jake Hilmer (23.2) leads the attack. He set the single season assists record, career assists record, and single season steals record this season, in addition to his scoring prowess. Ryan Miller (24.7) is a sniper who shoots 46% from behind the arc and David Seber (12.5, 67 3PM) gives them another shooter. This group pressures relentlessly on the defensive end, and after a third place finish last season, they’ve got their eyes set on the title this season. They’ve been dominant, and while the games will slow down as they progress in the tournament, this team is electric on both ends and looks like a near lock to be playing on Championship Friday.

Why they can win it all: They have the best player in the field (Hilmer), and their explosive offensive attack should benefit from playing on the longer floor with better spacing. This group is in fantastic shape and will be looking to run and press at every opportunity. The only group with the guard play to handle that pressure, and slow them down on the offensive end, is at the bottom of the bracket, Grand View Christian. Best player, plus a draw that they match up well against, means that things are lining up well for the Lynx.

Chances they win it all: 45%. It would be an upset if North Linn and Grand View Christian don’t meet for the title on Friday, and that game will basically be a coin flip.


Grant DeMeulenaere

No. 2 seed: Grand View Christian (22-1)
About the Thunder: The defending champion in the class, GVC rolled through their schedule for the most part this season, with the lone loss coming to 2A qualifier Kuemper Catholic in the regular season finale. They competed this year as an independent, and as a result, the schedule was much more difficult this season. Grant DeMeulenaere (22.3) was the best player on last year’s state title team and returns to attempt to repeat. A gifted guard, he led the team in scoring and dished out 141 assists. He pairs with Mach Nyaw (13.0), an athletic wing who can get to the rim. They got a big addition to the roster in Issa Samake, a 6-7 transfer from Tennessee who became eligible on January 12. A hyper athletic big man with a seven foot wingspan, his rim protection adds another dimension to the Thunder’s defense. Arturo Montes (11.4), Bryce Crabb (7.1), Sam Glenn (6.7) and Kong Neyail (5.8) add lots of depth and talent to the “Big Three”.

Why they can win it all: Well, they did it last year and brought back a good number of players from that group, including their best player. Samake’s addition gives them another dimension on both ends of the floor, and if anyone is going to push Hilmer for the best player in the field, it’s DeMeulenaere.

Chances they win it all: 40%. The Thunder have played much tighter games this season, but that’s in large part because of the improved schedule. They have a more difficult draw than North Linn does, and their title percentage drops a bit as a result, but if they get to Friday, it’s a coin flip game, and it will likely depend on whether or not the Lynx can get Samake into foul trouble.


Nicholas Ruden

No. 3 seed: Remsen, St. Mary’s (25-0)
About the Hawks: For the second year in a row, the Hawks enter the state tournament with an unbeaten record. They’re riding a fantastic defense that allows just 39.7 points a game, good for third in the class (second among the tournament field). Forward Nicholas Ruden (14.2) leads the group in scoring, rebounding and blocks, and he was one of the breakout stars of last year’s tournament. With his ability to score inside and out, he’s a tough matchup for any team at this level. Sophomore guard Spencer Schorg (13.1, 42.2 3P%) gives them a potent threat from behind the arc, and Brody Ricke (10.9) was a starter on last year’s team, giving them some experience. Carter Kuchel (8.6) and Derrick Schorg (8.9) round out their top five, but they don’t go very deep after that.

Why they can win it all: They have a great defense and some experience from their tournament run last year, when they finished fourth. Ruden can be a matchup issue, and Schorg provides some shooting to take the pressure off of Ruden.

Chances they win it all: 7.5%. It’s hard to see anything preventing the North Linn-Grand View Christian meeting, but this group has gone undefeated to this point for a reason – they’re good. The first round game against Lynnville-Sully is tricky, but they can slow a meeting against GVC down and stay competitive. And if they get to Friday, anything can happen in a one-off.


No. 4 seed: George-Little Rock (19-6)
About the Mustangs: This is a spot we pegged the Mustangs to be in before the season started, as they were No. 7 in our “Way Too Early” poll during the summer. They enter the tournament hot, winning 12 of their last 14 games (and one of those losses was to a really good 2A Sioux Center team). This is a really balanced unit, with seven players averaging between 5.8 and 12.6 points a game. They’re led by the interior duo of Lucas Nagel (12.6) and Caleb Terhark (10.1), each of whom do almost all of their scoring around the rim and control the glass. Jayden Mauldin (8.6) floats out to the perimeter a bit, but he’s also a rim protector, ranking second on the team with 28 blocks. Josh Haken (9.3), Landon Jumbeck (9.7) and Blake Johnson (6.3) are the primary members of the backcourt, and Matt Haken (5.8, 31 blocks) gives them a really solid interior defender off the bench. Going through a rough Siouxland Conference, the ‘Stangs are ready for anything, and they’re one of the deepest teams in the 1A field.

Why they can win it all: Unlike most teams at the 1A level, G-LR can survive some foul trouble, as they comfortably can go eight deep. They’re balanced, so there isn’t really one player that you can key in on defensively, and they have some size, toughness and rim protection in the paint.

Chances they win it all: 1%. We expected this team to be here, but they may still be a year early on truly competing for a state title. They’ll bring back six of their top eight next season, and that’s when they can really make some noise. This will be a good chance for them to get their feet wet before running into a buzzsaw in the semifinals.


No. 5 seed: Don Bosco (22-3)
About the Dons: The Dons have lost just once with standout guard Jack Kelley in the lineup, and they’ve been impressive on both ends of the floor, ranking 12th in scoring offense and 6th in scoring defense in 1A. They have a trio of talented scorers in Sean McFadden (15.3), Zach Nie (14.8) and Jack Kelley (14.3), who account for about 67% of the team’s output. McFadden is an athletic big man who runs the floor and finishes around the rim, Nie is a sniper, and Kelley is a really good slasher, whose penetration draws defenders in and allows him to kick out to Nie or drop a pass to McFadden for easy looks. Zach Huff (127 assists) pairs with Kelley (108) to give the Dons a solid backcourt that does a good job protecting the ball.

Why they can win it all: They have a really strong backcourt that doesn’t turn the ball over much, and a big man who can score and protect the rim. They’re able to put a great shooter alongside that pair of good guards, and they’ve been really strong on the defensive end. They’ve lost just once with their full roster.

Chances they win it all: 1%. Most other years, this would look like a legitimate state title contender. North Linn and GVC are historically good teams, and having to go through both is an awful lot to ask.


Jesse Van Wyk

No. 6 seed: Lynnville-Sully (22-3)
About the Hawks: The Hawks lost just one game against a 1A team this season, and that came against Grand View Christian, by 13 in a game that got away from them in the third quarter. They allow just 44.0 points a game and have a balanced scoring attack with three players averaging between 12.0 and 14.5 points a game. Jesse Van Wyk (14.5) leads the team in scoring, rebounding, assists and blocks, and he’s an efficient playmaker who will have the ball in his hands a lot. Tanner Foster (12.9) can score inside and out at 6-5, and Brevin Hansen (12.0, 42.5 3P%) is a dynamic shooter. This group is solid defensively and goes fairly deep. They have a tough matchup to open the tournament against an unbeaten St. Mary’s team, but it’s a veteran group that made it here last year with largely the same roster.

Why they can win it all: It’s a veteran group that plays defense and has plenty of shooting. The draw is rough, but it’s an experienced team that plays really well together and has the ability to win playing a variety of different styles.

Chances they win it all: .5%. This is a good team, and in many 1A years, this would be a really solid title threat. But the 2018 North Linn and Grand View Christian teams are among the best 1A teams we’ve seen in quite a while. Lynnville-Sully would have to go through both to win the title, and that’s not very likely to happen.


Jake Carley

No. 7 seed: Council Bluffs, St. Albert (15-9)
About the Falcons: The Falcons have played the most difficult schedule of any team in the field, as they play in a largely 3A conference and don’t play other 1A teams until the postseason. They’re led by a trio who started in the 2016 championship game as sophomores and are now seniors – Jake Carley (14.8), Tyler Blaha (12.4) and Matt Fagan (10.8). Carley and Kyle Barnes are a solid backcourt duo that handle the ball well and limit turnovers, Blaha is an explosive, athletic wing and Fagan provides size and physicality around the rim. Playing against that really tough schedule should benefit them.

Why they can win it all: They’ve played a really strong schedule and they have a trio of players with loads of state tournament experience. They have a rough draw, drawing defending champion Grand View Christian in the opener, but this group isn’t going to back down from anyone.

Chances they win it all: 5%. St. Albert has a really tough opener, but if they’re able to get by that game, they’re capable of winning the semifinal meeting against either St. Mary’s or Lynnville-Sully. It’s a difficult draw, but this group has experience and will be ready for the run.


No. 8 seed: Edgewood-Colesburg (21-4)
About the Vikings: The Vikings have had a fantastic season after transitioning over to the Tri-Rivers Conference, entering the tournament with 21 wins and their first ever trip to State. They have four players averaging in double figures, led by freshman Parker Rochford, who looks like a star in the making. The 5-9 guard leads the team in scoring at 12.8 points a game, and he shoots 55% from the floor and 50% from behind the arc. Four players average in double figures, and Rochford and older brother Preston are both snipers who can get hot.

Why they can win it all: Unfortunately, it doesn’t look promising for the Vikings, as they draw North Linn in the first round. The Vikings have some shooters who can get hot, and if they pull the upset of the year, they can beat anyone.

Chances they win it all: 0%. This is as bad a draw as the Vikings could get, as they’ve lost to North Linn twice this season, by 44 and 71 points. The pressure that the Lynx provide isn’t a good matchup for the Vikings backcourt. They’ve had a great season, but they aren’t advancing to the semifinals.


Our Picks
Quarterfinals: North Linn, George-Little Rock, Grand View Christian, St. Mary’s
Semifinals: North Linn, Grand View Christian
Champion: North Linn

Quarterfinals: North Linn, Don Bosco, Grand View Christian, Lynnville-Sully
Semifinals: North Linn, Grand View Christian
Champion: Grand View Christian

Quarterfinals: North Linn, Don Bosco, Grand View Christian, St. Mary’s
Semifinals: North Linn, Grand View Christian
Champion: North Linn