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Posted On: 10/26/18 2:30 PM
Alburnett (14-7, 13-7): The Pirates bring back last year’s second through sixth leading scorers, giving them quite a bit of experience and talent. They’ll be headlined by Izic Mackey (14.4), a 6-4 forward who tied for the team lead in scoring and led in rebounding while shooting 68.2% from the floor. He’ll be joined in the paint by another efficient forward in Hunter Caves (9.2), who shot 54.5%. That frontcourt duo should be the best in the division and will allow them to control the glass on a nightly basis. The backcourt will be Austin Huber (7.7), Jared Graubard (7.0) and Luke Smith (4.2). Look for Graubard to take over primary ball handling responsibilities following the graduation of Ian Boline. Alburnett will be right there with Edgewood-Colesburg, fighting for second place behind North Linn.
Central City (13-10, 10-9): The bad news for the Wildcats is that only one player who scored more than 12 points last year returns. The good news is that that one player is Nick Reid (18.0), who is probably the best player in the division not named Jake Hilmer. Coming off a strong summer with the Iowa Barnstormers, Reid is a long, athletic 6-6 wing who can score from anywhere, handle it and pass it. He’s going to be asked to do a ton for the ‘Cats this year, as only 18 more points are back in total. It’ll be a whole new cast of characters in Central City, but with Reid in tow, they should still win quite a few games.
East Buchanan (4-18, 2-18): Three of the top four, and four of the top six, scorers are gone for the Buccaneers, but they do bring back a double figure scorer in Tyson Russell (10.0), who led the team in rebounding and steals last year. He’s a capable shooter who can stretch the floor a bit. Three other rotation players from last season return as well in Nathan Schmitt (3.6), Brock Naber (2.3) and Nolan Meyer (2.0), so they have some minutes coming back, but they just won’t have the talent to compete with the upper echelon teams in the division.
Edgewood-Colesburg (21-5, 16-5): Last year was a magical one for the Vikings, who finished it in Des Moines with their first ever State appearance. They bring back five of their top seven scorers from that group, including three of the top four, so the pieces are in place for a back-to-back Des Moines trip. This is a team that largely rolled through the league’s competition outside of three blowout losses to North Linn (they also split with Alburnett, lost to Lisbon). Few teams in the state are going to put as much shooting on the floor as Ed-Co will, headlined by the Rochford brothers, Parker (12.4) and Preston (11.0). Parker is coming off a highly productive freshman year in which he made 48.9% of his 3-point attempts, while Preston had nearly three times as many assists as anyone else on the roster and serves as the team’s primary ball handler. Ethan Streicher (10.3), Ben Ernst (7.0) and Spencer Staner (3.0) also return and each are capable 3-point shooters as well. So for a majority of the minutes this season, the Vikings will put five shooters on the floor and try to spread teams out. It should work against just about everyone but North Linn, who they just don’t match up well with.
Maquoketa Valley (5-17, 5-14): Only 22% of last year’s scoring output returns for the Wildcats, and this is a group that struggled to score last year, averaging just 44.9 points a game on 35.4% shooting. The leading returnee is Andrew Holtz (5.2), who will be the team’s primary ball handler, while Brian Heims (4.2) gives them a presence in the paint. Not much else is back, so it could be a long season in Delhi.
North Linn (28-1, 23-0): Not many teams can lose a guy who scored 24 points a game and not miss a beat, but that should be the case with the 2018-19 Lynx. Ryan Miller has graduated, taking 24.3 points a game and 85 made 3s with him, but North Linn has the state’s all-time assist leader, and one of the most dynamic point guards the state has ever seen, coming back in Jake Hilmer (23.1). Hilmer has put together one of the most decorated high school careers the state has ever seen, as he’ll finish as the state record holder in assists and steals, while likely being a top-10 all-time scorer. His speed, passing and scoring abilities will be on full display on a nightly basis, pacing an offense that scored 100+ six different times last year and won their first 28 games of the year by an average score of 90-36. David Seber (11.9) made 71 3s last year as the tertiary option for the Lynx, and with Miller gone, some shots will open up for him. Trevor Boge (8.7) is a solid combo forward who can score inside and out, and Carter Johnson (2.8) should give them some size. One of the benefits of so many blowouts is that everyone got plenty of playing time last year, so guys like Austin Miller (2.1) and Josh Smith (2.0) will be ready to step into bigger roles as well. The player to keep an eye on here will be freshman Austin Hilmer, Jake’s younger brother, who has a similar style to Jake. Putting two Hilmers on the floor is deadly. North Linn moves up to 2A this year come postseason time, and they’ll be one of the top three or four contenders for a state title there. They’ll cruise through this league again, putting up more historic numbers en route to an unbeaten regular season.
Springville (7-16, 5-16): The Orioles generally have been a pretty strong program, so last year’s seven win mark was a bit of a letdown. Look for them to bounce back a bit this year with their leading scorer, and three of their top five scorers, back. They’re led by Zach March (15.2), an athletic scoring guard who can get the job done at all three levels. He’s joined in the backcourt by the Koppes brothers, Kyle (9.3) and Alex (4.0). Look for Kyle to have the ball in his hands quite a bit as the team’s primary ball handler. He’s a capable shooter from the arc, as is Alex. With that trio of guards, the Orioles should be able to put quite a bit of shooting on the floor at all points in time. They have a lot of role players to find, but March is one of the best players in the division, and while they may not have the talent to compete with the North Linns of the world, they could potentially push Ed-Co or Alburnett on a given night if the 3s are falling.
Projected Order of Finish
1. North Linn
5. Central City
6. East Buchanan
7. Maquoketa Valley
Analysis: North Linn is far and away the best team in the league here, and one of the best small school teams in the state. The real battle will come for the second spot, as both Ed-Co and Alburnett are solid teams who can beat each other on any given night.
Preseason Player of the Year
2019 Jake Hilmer, North Linn: 23.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 12.3 assists, 6.2 steals, 64.8 FG%, 44.8 3P%, 87.0 FT%)
The Upper Iowa commit has put together one of the best high school careers in the state’s history. By the time he graduates, he’ll be the career leader in both assists (already done) and steals, and rank among the top 10 all-time in scoring. He’s lightning quick, efficient and a remarkable passer with exceptional court vision. He’ll pace a Lynx team that will roll through the division again this year.
2019 Trevor Boge, North Linn: A 6-3 combo forward, Boge gets overshadowed on a record setting offense by Jake Hilmer, David Seber and last year, Ryan Miller. But he averaged 8.7 points, rebounds effectively on both ends, and knocked down 50% of his 3s last year. With lots of shots gone in the form of Miller, look for Boge’s numbers to be even better this year, capable of scoring inside and out.
Players to Watch
2019 Jake Hilmer, North Linn
2019 David Seber, North Linn
2019 Trevor Boge, North Linn
2022 Austin Hilmer, North Linn
2021 Parker Rochford, Edgewood-Colesburg
2019 Preston Rochford, Edgewood-Colesburg
2019 Ethan Streicher, Edgewood-Colesburg
2020 Nick Reid, Central City
2019 Zach March, Springville
2020 Kyle Koppes, Springville
2019 Izic Mackey, Alburnett
2021 Hunter Caves, Alburnett
2020 Austin Huber, Alburnett
2019 Jared Graubard, Alburnett
2020 Tyson Russell, East Buchanan