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Posted On: 11/8/18 5:00 PM
Columbus Community (0-22)
Needless to say, last season was a dismal one for the Wildcats. And the results might not be much better this winter. The top two scorers from last season have graduated, and there's a largely unknown group of guys that will take the floor this season.
One of the state's very best bigs resides on the Huskies' roster, that's bouncy 6-foot-7 junior Zack Lasek. He averaged 20.7 points last season, and returns this year with a slew of experience and talent by his side. Not one regular contributor from last season's 11-win squad graduated.
Iowa Mennonite (21-4)
Eli Ours has a big chance to have a breakout season this winter for Iowa Mennonite. Last year's three leading scorers were all seniors, Ours was the fourth-best offensive threat, going for 7.7 points per game. Senior Trevor Leyden is another guy who should see his numbers balloon this winter.
Lone Tree (10-12)
A whole slew of guys return from last season's middling squad, rendering the Lions a unit that could make a lot of noise this winter. Keegan Edwards, Brady Dauber, Austin Marshek, Bryce Houser and Avery Knock will all be key contributors to this Lions team that hopes to finish near the top of the division.
Another squad which spent much of last season middling, the Falcons could be in for another less-than-stellar season this year. It's leading returning scorer Brock Jeamby averaged 4.8 points per game a season ago, the team's four best scorers from last season are graduated. Can this new-look starting five improve upon last season's 10-win team? We'll see.
Ben Wolgemuth will be one of the best scorers in the division this winter, and he will be aided by the likes of Owen Timmerman and to a lesser degree sophomore Josh Darbyshire. If Wolgemuth has the type of season we think he's capable of, he could lead this Bulldogs team to double-digit wins.
There's plenty to be eager for in Pekin. This winter the Panthers will put another good product on the floor, led by seniors Cameron Millikin and Caleb Cornstock. Other experienced players, juniors Dayne Exckley and Keenan Winn will help out considerably.
Last season's conference player of the year is gone, that was ultra-athletic and skilled guard Trenton Massner. That's the bad news. The good news, is big-man Keaton Mitchell returns and the Truman State-commit is one of the best bigs in Iowa. The rest of the roster will be largely unproven, but Mitchell alone makes the Indians formidable.
Winfield-Mt. Union (3-19)
After struggling to a total of just three wins last season, the Wolves could again find themselves near the bottom of the division this winter. Leading scorers BJ Rodgers and Cody McCreight have graduated, and there's going to have to be a new group to take the reins. Are juniors Daunte Oepping, Jared Arnold and Christian Gerot up for the challenge?
Projected Order of Finish
2 Lone Tree
5 Iowa Mennonite
8 Winfield-Mt. Union
9 Columbus Community
After winning just 11 games a season ago, we think the Wolves are in line to win considerably more contests this season. Zack Lasek is one of the best bigs in the state, he's also the preseason player of the year in the division, and he'll have a slew of key returners by his side to make a run at the top. Lone Tree, Pekin, Iowa Mennonite and Wapello will all be big obstacles for Highland to overcome. This will be a fun group to keep an eye on.
Preseason Player of the Year
Zack Lasek, Highland — 2020
Since his freshman season, Lasek has been a dominant force on the Iowa high school hoops scene. Now, an wily vet, the upperclassmen is an experienced and dominant force. He led the conference in blocks a season ago and is the leading returning scorer as well. There’s no reason to think he won’t obliterate the competition this winter.
Eli Ours, Iowa Mennonite -- 2021
It's an opportunity for the sophomore guard to show exactly what he's capable of, and Ours could be among the division's best scorers this season. As a freshman he averaged 7.7 points, 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game. With last year's top three guys now gone, Ours should see those numbers swell considerably this winter.
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