Conference Preview: Iowa Star South

High School
Iowa

Posted On: 10/25/18 3:30 PM

The Teams
Baxter (12-11, 11-3): The Bolts had a very successful first year as a program, going 11-3 against conference teams. They bring back their top two scorers from that group, including our Preseason Player of the Year pick in Will Clapper (17.5). A big, athletic forward at 6-4, he averaged a double-double last year and should put up huge numbers for the Bolts. His combination of football size and athletic ability will be a nearly impossible matchup for any team in this division. The other key returnee is Cole Damman (12.4), who led the team in made 3s last year with 54 and posted a nearly 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Ian Thomson (2.0) is the only other returnee who saw a lot of time last year, and should become the team’s lead ball handler. Baxter lost an awful lot of rotation pieces from last year’s team, but with their top two returning, and the number of losses a lot of the other teams in the league suffered, they’ll be back near the top of the division. 

CAL, Latimer (0-20, 0-16): After going winless last season, it looks like it’ll be another long year for the Cadets, who lost their top four scorers from that group. The leading returnee is Sergio Martinez (1.9), and no returnee should better than 17.6% from the floor last year. 

Colo-NESCO (12-9, 10-4): The Royals have been one of the Iowa Star’s best teams for quite a while now, but they’ll have some work to do to stay near the top this year after losing their top five scorers from last year’s team. The leading returnee is Kelly Gray (1.5), a solid playmaking guard who led the team in steals, but isn’t much of a scoring threat. Look for Brighton Clatt (1.0) to turn into this team’s go-to player. 

Collins-Maxwell (2-19, 1-13): The Spartans struggled last season in their first year following the split from Baxter, averaging just 34.4 points a game, which ranked 139th out of 147 teams in Class 1A. They’ll be led by 6-5 junior forward Brett Livesay (7.6), who is the team’s leading returning scorer and rebounder. He’s an efficient player who needs to be the focal point of this attack, as he’s the only player who shot better than 38% from the floor, shooting 50.5%. John Kasper (5.7) is the team’s top shooter, and Ben Hofer (4.1) and Mason Markley (2.1) have some experience. There’s a long ways to go with this group, but they should be improved. 

GMG, Garwin (7-13, 6-11): Looking for a team to jump up and challenge Meskwaki and Baxter at the top of the league? Look no further than the Wolverines, who bring back their top four scorers from a team that started last year 4-0 before falling apart. They’ll be headlined by the guard tandem of Brayden Peterson (17.2) and Aaron Fleming (13.7), a pair of scorers who can do so from anywhere on the floor. Kolton Gill (8.0) and Brock Baldozo (7.3) will join them in the starting lineup, while Blaze Krull (2.6) and Justin Savadty (2.8) saw a fair amount of playing time last year and contributed. Quite a bit of experience returns, and in a league where a lot of teams may struggle to score consistently, that shouldn’t be an issue for GMG. 

Meskwaki Settlement School (13-9, 9-7): The bad news for the Warriors is that they lost leading scorer Jarius Bear, who put up over 19 points a game last year. But they bring everyone else back, and look like they’ll be the team to beat in the league not only this year, but for years to come. Tate Bear (15.5) will be this group’s leader, an athletic forward who is coming off a really strong summer with Iowa Intensity. He’s really worked on improving his shooting, ball handling and playmaking abilities, and should have a huge year. Taurice Grant (9.9) leads a big group of sophomores that saw lots of playing time last year as freshmen and were largely successful. Tiernan Wanatee (4.9), Victor Balderas (3.8), Evan Nelson (3.3) and Daymond Rosenberger (2.3) are also part of that group and should be major contributors. The other key returnee is Emmett Roberts (7.8), who will serve as the team’s primary ball handler and their tertiary scorer behind Bear and Grant. Lots of experience is back for the Warriors, who should turn quite a few of their five single digit losses into wins this year. 

North Tama (8-15, 7-8): The Red Hawks lost their first six games last year, then played around .500 ball the rest of the way. They’ll be led by Hale Hulme (10.7), a solid playmaking guard who led the team in assists and was second in scoring last year. Noah Bond (7.4), Cael Even (6.3), Zach Greiner (2.0) and Jack Dostal (1.7) all return after seeing ample time last year, giving North Tama one of the more experience teams in the division. This is a group that lost quite a bit of scoring punch following the graduations of Nicholas Sierra and Lance Zobel, who combined for just under 24 points a game, but they bring back plenty of experience. How they fare will come down to how well those role players adjust to bigger roles. 

 

Projected Order of Finish
1. Meskwaki Settlement
2. Baxter
3. GMG Garwin
4. North Tama
5. Colo-NESCO
6. Collins-Maxwell
7. CAL, Latimer

Analysis: This division doesn’t have the star power that the North Division has, but it could still be a solid three-horse race. Meskwaki Settlement looks like the team to beat with loads of talent and experience returning, while Baxter has the division’s best player, and GMG has lots of experience back as well. It will be an interesting race to watch unfold. 

 

Preseason Player of the Year

2019 Will Clapper, Baxter: 17.5 points, 1.02 rebounds, 60.3 FG%

The league’s leading returning scorer, the future college gridiron star is the South’s top player. He averaged a double-double for the Bolts last year in their first year after breaking off from Collins-Maxwell, and he’ll be looking to help Baxter get back to the top of the division this year. He is the league’s leading returnee in scoring and rebounding, and should put up monster numbers for the Bolts. 

 

Biggest Sleeper

2019 Blaze Krull, GMG Garwin: Krull isn’t much of a scorer, but he’s a really solid distributor who posted a better than 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio last year and should step into an even bigger ball handling and facilitating role this year for the Wolverines. 

 

Players to Watch
2019 Will Clapper, Baxter
2020 Cole Damman, Baxter
2019 Tate Bear, Meskwaki Settlement
2020 Emmett Roberts, Meskwaki Settlement
2021 Tiernan Wanatee, Meskwaki Settlement
2021 Taurice Grant, Meskwaki Settlement
2019 Brayden Peterson, GMG Garwin
2019 Aaron Fleming, GMG Garwin
2019 Kolton Gill, GMG Garwin
2019 Brock Baldozo, GMG Garwin
2019 Hale Hulme, North Tama
2019 Noah Bond, North Tama
2019 Cael Even, North Tama
2020 John Kasper, Collins-Maxwell
2020 Brett Livesay, Collins-Maxwell