Conference Preview: Western Valley

High School
Iowa

Posted On: 10/30/18 2:30 PM

The Teams
Kingsley-Pierson (16-7, 13-2): The Panthers largely rolled through this league last season, and they bring back our Player of the Year selection Nathan Keck (16.4). Keck, however, is far from alone, as five of the top six scorers return for K-P. Keck led the team in scoring, assists and steals last year, while finishing second in rebounding and tied for the lead in blocks. He’s a stat sheet stuffing guard, and if he can improve his shooting a bit (26.1 3P%), watch out. Jessen Reinking (11.4) returns in the paint, and he’ll be surrounded by some shooting with Keck, Tyler Sitzmann (6.5), Kyler Krieg (4.1) and Kaden Schroeder (4.0), all of whom do a large chunk of their damage from the perimeter. This team was great on the defensive end last year, allowing just 46.7 points a game, which ranked 12th in Class 1A. Look for them to be strong on that end again, and for the offense, which had shooting splits of just 43-25-63, to be a bit more efficient this year. This is the team to beat in the league until someone comes up and gets them. 

Lawton-Bronson (10-11, 7-5): Eight players averaged between 2.6 and 9.5 points a game last year for the Eagles, a very balanced attack. Four of those players are back in Max Fluent (7.9), Ben Thelander (6.0), Jonah Kollbaum (4.6) and Gavin DeJager (2.6). Kollbaum and Thelander combined to block 41 shots last season. Expect to see L-B have another balanced attack, with anyone capable of leading the team in scoring on a given night. They should hover around the .500 mark all winter. 

Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto (13-9, 10-3): A traditionally strong program, MVAO expects to be playing for trips to State, so last year was a bit of a disappointment. And they lose their top two scorers from that group, who combined to average 30.8 points a game. The cupboard isn’t bare, however, for the Rams. Ely Fundermann (12.1) and Calvin Ferris (8.5) return, giving them a solid one-two punch. Fundermann is a capable scorer from anywhere and will act as the team’s primary ball handler, while Ferris, a 42% shooter from the arc, should benefit from Fundermann’s playmaking abilities. MVAO always finds new players, and this group won’t be any different. This group can contend for the conference crown, but it’ll be a surprise if they find themselves playing for a State trip.

OA-BCIG (13-9, 9-3): The Falcons bring back their top two scorers, three of their top four (and four of their top six), to a team that beat the teams they were supposed to last year, but struggled against the more talented teams on the schedule. That said, this group may have the most talented top three of any team in the league with Kaden Ladwig (16.4), Landon Ray (12.6) and Cooper DeJean (7.1). Ladwig and Ray combined to make 92 3s last season, and each are high level scorers. The key to where this team finishes will be DeJean, a talented sophomore who had a productive freshman season and is coming off a solid summer with Martin Brothers. If he can take the next step in his development, this could be the team to beat in the conference. He posted a better than 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio last year, and stuffed the stat sheet across the board. The Falcons will need to find some role players alongside this trio, but expect to see them near the top of the league, and potentially battling for a State trip, come late February. 

Ridge View (5-16, 5-9): The Raptors lose Jaxon Franken, who accounted for over 37.5% of the team’s scoring output last season. Expect to see them become a little more balanced as a result. The key returnees here are Jacob Tokheim (9.9), Ezra Miller (6.4) and Logan Cuthrell (3.7). Tokheim and Cuthrell are the primary perimeter options, while Miller should have a solid year in the paint and on the glass. This group should win a handful of games again this year.  

River Valley (6-14, 3-10): The Wolverines won six games last season against teams that combined to win just 24 games on the year, and only two of the 14 losses were by single digits. That said, only 18 points are gone from last year’s team, so they could see some more wins this year, getting closer to the .500 mark. They’ll be led by Garrett Trapp (14.0), who shot 40.7% from behind the arc last season. He’ll shoot this group to some wins. Other key returnees include Tyler Towne (7.0) and Trey Goettsch (6.2). 

Siouxland Christian (1-21, 0-12): The Eagles struggled mightily last year, averaging just 40.3 points a game (32-20-59 shooting splits), and posting an assist-to-turnover ratio of 164-450. That said, they only lose four points from that team, so perhaps they’ll improve with the experience they got last year. This was a very young team (six sophomores, three freshmen on the roster) with some room to grow, but don’t expect too much from them this year. 

West Monona (9-13, 5-11): The Spartans lose a big scorer in Gage Rotnicke, who averaged over 19 points a game. But they bring back their second through sixth scorers from last year, so they should have an experienced starting five. They’ll be headlined by Calvin Coffman (14.7), a quality scorer inside the arc who led the team in steals and was second in rebounding. There is not much shooting on this roster, so they’ll be reliant on working the ball inside and getting buckets at the rim, which should work fairly well for them. With a lot of teams losing quite a bit of talent, there will be plenty of wins to come by for this experienced team, but they don’t have the horses to compete with Kingsley-Pierson or OA-BCIG at the top. 

Westwood, Sloan (8-12, 6-7): The Rebels bring back three starters with the junior trio of Carter Copple (5.9), Ben Brekke (5.4) and Sam Miller (4.8), but none of them averaged over six points a game. They’ll need to have one of them step up and become a go-to scorer. There are wins to be had at the bottom of the league, and they should stay out of the basement, but they’ll struggle against the upper echelon teams in the conference.

Woodbury Central (11-12, 10-6): Mitchell Countryman (9.7) is the only returnee for the Wildcats who scored more than 34 points on the season last year, so there will be a lot of new faces on the floor in Moville. Countryman is a solid piece to build around, however, a quality lead guard who values the basketball and is an efficient scorer. 

 

Projected Order of Finish
1. Kingsley-Pierson
2. OA-BCIG
3. Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto
4. West Monona
5. Lawton-Bronson
6. River Valley
7. Westwood
8. Woodbury Central
9. Ridge View
10. Siouxland Christian

Analysis: The top two teams in the league appear to be pretty clear cut, and we’ll give the edge to Kingsley-Pierson until OA-BCIG proves they can beat them. 

 

Preseason Player of the Year

2019 Nathan Keck, Kingsley-Pierson: 16.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 3.2 steals

Keck ranked among the scoring and rebounding leaders in the league, and led the conference in assists and steals. A playmaking wing, he’ll be looking to lead the Panthers to the top of the league.

 

Biggest Sleeper

2021 Cooper DeJean, OA-BCIG: He won’t be a sleeper for much longer, coming off a strong summer with Martin Brothers. A playmaking guard who takes care of the basketball and can score, he looks primed to take a step into the elite players in the conference. 

 

Players to Watch
2019 Nathan Keck, Kingsley-Pierson
2019 Jessen Reinking, Kingsley-Pierson
2019 Tyler Sitzmann, Kingsley-Pierson
2019 Kaden Ladwig, OA-BCIG
2019 Landon Ray, OA-BCIG
2021 Cooper Dejean, OA-BCIG
2019 Calvin Coffman, West Monona
2019 Dylan Collison, West Monona
2021 Garrett Trapp, River Valley
2021 Tyler Towne, River Valley
2019 Trey Goettsch, River Valley
2019 Ely Fundermann, Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto
2019 Calvin Ferris, Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto
2020 Mitchell Countryman, Woodbury Central
2021 Jeremy Seibert, Siouxland Christian
2020 Jonah Deroos, Siouxland Christian
2021 Cameron Pierson, Siouxland Christian
2019 Jacob Tokheim, Ridge View
2019 Ezra Miller, Ridge View
2019 Max Fluent, Lawton-Bronson