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Posted On: 11/1/18 9:30 AM
AGWSR, Ackley (9-14, 5-10): The Cougars return a pair of double figure scorers in Alex Hames (14.7) and Luke Starr (11.2), which is something few teams in the division can say this winter. That tandem led AGWSR in scoring and rebounding, giving them a solid tandem to build around. 6-4 forward Tanner Weichers (4.4) also returns. They’ll need to find some role players to fill the other slots, but having a pair of double figure scorers back should win them some games.
BCLUW, Conrad (4-19, 1-13): The Comets won just a single conference game last year, really struggling to shoot the ball (24.9 3P%), and they lost their best shooter from that group. But they bring four of their top six scorers back, including three of their top four. Jonny Jeff (13.3) leads the charge after leading the team in scoring and rebounding last season. He’s a fairly efficient forward who should have a solid senior year. Jack Garber (9.3) is the team’s primary ball handler, returning after dishing out 90 assists and leading the team in steals, while Treye Teske (5.3) and Mason Yantis (2.9) return with experience.
East Marshall (22-1, 15-0): The Mustangs are going to be a very difficult team to project this season, as they lost everyone of importance from a team that started 22-0 before falling in the substate final to South Hamilton. The top eight scorers are gone, leaving Cade Curphy (1.3) as the team’s leading returning scorer. He scored just 18 points last season. It’ll be entirely new faces taking the court this year in LeGrand.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck (18-7, 10-4): The Rebels have had a solid run of talent coming through their halls in recent years, with standouts like Joe Smoldt and Caden Kickbush being some of the standouts, the team’s go-to players. Jackson Kiburis (9.3) is the team’s leading returnee, and he’s stepping into that go-to role. Tyler Tscherter (4.5) and Colton Clark (1.3) are the only other returnees with any significant experience, so G-R has a lot of holes to fill in. This is a school that has plenty of talented athletes, and they should find enough of them to stay in the upper half of the division.
Grundy Center (3-19, 2-14): It was a difficult year for the Spartans, winning just two conference games. But there is some reason for optimism, as seven players who averaged at least four points a game last year return, giving them some experience and depth to build with. Cale Hendricks (10.4) is the team’s leading scorer, a quality shooter from the arc. Joe Johnson (7.9) led the team in rebounding and blocked 43 shots. He should be the focal point of the defense and a solid scoring option in the paint. While there is a lot of experience returning, we can’t get overly excited about a team that still won just three games last season. Expect to see this group double their win total, but perhaps not much more.
South Hardin (9-12, 8-6): The Tigers lose leading scorer and rebounder Kevin Rewoldt, who accounted for over 25% of their scoring and 50% of their rebounding last year. But he’s the only player they lost off the roster. This group should be balanced, headlined by Cade Spieker (9.4), Jacob Vander Wilt (9.2) and Cauy Teske (8.3). Teske and Vander Wilt are solid perimeter shooters, Vander Wilt a quality lead guard and ball handler. Spieker does a majority of his damage around the rim and will become the team’s top rebounder as well. Rewoldt was the team’s go-to option last year, but this should become a more balanced group that should finish around the .500 mark.
West Marshall (15-8, 11-5): Only two teams in the state, regardless of class (North Linn, Des Moines North) made more 3s last year than the Trojans, who made 229 of them. And they bring back two great shooters in Peyton Pope (21.0, 89 3PM, 48.6 3P%) and Joseph Halverson (10.5, 40, 41.2%). Cam Bannister (7.1), another starter, also returns. This isn’t a group that was very deep last year, and those three are the other three returnees with significant experience, but that’ll be enough to win this division, and likely do so handily. Pope is a fantastic junior scoring guard who is among the state’s best shooters. He’s deadly both off the dribble and the catch, and has limitless range. He’ll have some huge scoring nights this year. Halverson is a walking double-double with the ability to score inside and out, while Bannister does most of his damage around the rim. Look for West Marshall to be among the best 3-point shooting teams in the state again this year, winning a ton of games in the process.
Projected Order of Finish
1. West Marshall
3. South Hardin
5. Grundy Center
7. East Marshall
Analysis: It’s West Marshall, then it’s everyone else in the division this year. Teams lost a lot of talent across the league and Pope is far and away the best player in the division.
Preseason Player of the Year
2020 Peyton Pope, West Marshall: 21.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, 89 3PM, 48.6 3P%
Only two players in the state made more 3s last season, and only eight who attempted at least 75 of them made them at a higher clip than Pope did last season. He’s one of the deadliest shooters in the state, and is far and away the leading returning scorer in the division.
2020 Tyler Tscherter, Gladbrook-Reinbeck: The Rebels lost quite a bit of talent from their roster, but this solid lead guard is back after shooting 36.8% from the arc and dishing out 72 assists as the secondary ball handler. With the ball in his hands more, he should do a nice job running G-R’s attack this winter.
Players to Watch
2020 Peyton Pope, West Marshall
2019 Joseph Halverson, West Marshall
2019 Cam Bannister, West Marshall
2019 Alex Hames, AGWSR Ackley
2020 Luke Starr, AGWSR Ackley
2019 Jonny Neff, BCLUW
2019 Jack Garber, BCLUW
2020 Treye Teske, BCLUW
2019 Jackson Kiburis, Gladbrook-Reinbeck
2020 Tyler Tscherter, Gladbrook-Reinbeck
2020 Cale Hendricks, Grundy Center
2019 Joe Johnson, Grundy Center
2019 Tanner Appel, Grundy Center
2019 Cade Spieker, South Hardin
2019 Jacob Vander Wilt, South Hardin
2019 Cauy Teske, South Hardin
2019 Kaleb Roling, South Hardin