Posted On: 03/8/19 9:11 AM

Issa Samake

1A Championship: #1 Grand View Christian (25-1) vs. #7 Alburnett (20-5), 2:10 pm

How they got here: Grand View Christian beat St. Albert in the quarterfinals, 58-51, and Montezuma in the semifinals, 59-36. Alburnett upset Sioux Central 55-54 in the quarterfinals, and used a buzzer-beater to beat St. Mary’s, 39-37, in the semifinals.

Analysis: Two-time defending champion Grand View Christian is looking for the 3-peat, and will face an Alburnett team that is living their best life right now. The Pirates won back-to-back overtime games to advance to State, and have made a pair of game-winners within the final 12 seconds (including a putback at the buzzer in the semifinals) to get to the title game.

The Thunder are overwhelming favorites here. They sleepwalked through the first half against Montezuma, but showed how dominant they can be against 1A competition when they outscored the Braves 43-14, flipping the proverbial switch when they came out of the locker room.

It’s been an incredible season for the Pirates, but they will be overwhelmed by Issa Samake, Arturo Montes and Harouna Sissoko’s size and athleticism. As long as Grand View Christian shows up to play (which is always a question), they should cruise to the 3-peat here. It’s been a great season for Alburnett, but the Thunder are just on another level.

Players to watch
Grand View Christian: Arturo Montes (16.2 points), Issa Samake (15.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 94 blocks), Harouna Sissoko (15.5 points), Bryce Crabb (9.3 points, 98 assists, 38 turnovers), Kong Neyail (7.3 points)
Alburnett: Izic Mackey (17.6 points, 8.7 rebounds), Hunter Caves (13.9 points, 99 assists), Austin Huber (10.9 points, 69 3PM, 43.4 3P%)

Our pick: Grand View Christian 68, Alburnett 43


Jake Hilmer

2A Championship: #1 North Linn (25-0) vs. #3 Boyden-Hull (24-2), 4:10 pm

How they got here: North Linn beat Des Moines Christian, 68-45, in the quarterfinals, and held on to beat Van Meter 54-47 in the semifinals. Boyden-Hull beat Regina 61-56 in the quarterfinals, and escaped South Hamilton 62-59 in the semifinals. 

Analysis: Top ranked North Linn dominated their quarterfinal game against Des Moines Christian, then outlasted Van Meter in the semifinals, a significantly bigger team that was looking to slow the game down to pound it inside to use their size advantage. The Lynx have an explosive offense that can go on big runs, but have shown in postseason play that they’re capable of winning slower paced games as well. 

They could potentially struggle against a Boyden-Hull team filled with switchable pieces on the defensive end. Just about all of the Comets are between 6-0 and 6-3, and can defend multiple spots, so they should be able to do a variety of things on the defensive end. A disciplined offensive team as well, if they’re able to take care of the ball, they should be able to run their stuff and score. The issue that arose in the semifinals, however, is that the Comets turned it over 21 times against a South Hamilton team that is quick, but not as quick as the Lynx. 

Look for North Linn to try and make it a track meet, as they usually look to do, and if the Comets struggle to protect the ball like they did in the semifinals, it could be North Linn’s first ever state title. In what is expected to be a close game, we’ll give the edge to the team with the best player on the floor, and the Lynx take home a title.

Players to watch
North Linn: Jake Hilmer (26.1 points, 10.7 assists, 4.8 steals, 58.0 FG%), David Seber (14.1 points, 59 3PM), Trevor Boge (11.9 points), Austin Miller (11.4 points), Austin Hilmer (10.7 points)
Boyden-Hull: Beau De Jongh (14.5 points), Keyton Moser (12.2 points), Spencer Te Slaa (10.2 points), Tanner Te Slaa (9.7 points)

Our pick: North Linn 66, Boyden-Hull 62


Xavier Foster

3A Championship: #1 Norwalk (22-4) vs. #3 Oskaloosa (18-5), 6:35 pm

How they got here: Norwalk blasted Ballard in the quarterfinals, 81-39, and beat Clear Lake 61-54 in the semifinals. Oskaloosa escaped Marion in the quarterfinals, 51-49, and Winterset, 48-43 in the semifinals.

Analysis: It’s the third meeting of the season between these Little Hawkeye rivals, as they split during the regular season. Norwalk won at home, 58-46, and Oskaloosa won their home game, 68-47, without Cole Henry (broken hand) in the lineup. Henry is back now.

Norwalk put together the most impressive performance of the 2019 tournament in their quarterfinal win over Ballard, blasting the Bombers by 42. The Warriors are led by the sensational Bowen Born, who is averaging 36 points a game during the tournament, but Clear Lake provided the blueprint on how to slow him down in the semifinals, by throwing some length and physicality at him. They limited him to 10-31 shooting, and Oskaloosa is really familiar with him. In two meetings this year, Born is averaging 24.5 points, but is shooting just 15-42 (35.7%). The Indians have some length they can throw at him on the perimeter with Rian Yates and Iszac Schultz off the bench, and having Xavier Foster in the paint eliminates some of what Born is best at, getting to the rim and finishing. Foster had 15 blocks in the two games this year. The real concern for Norwalk in this one is that they really haven’t gotten much production out of other players this week, other than Tyler Johnson. Someone else is going to have to step up here.

Oskaloosa hasn’t played particularly well this week, but they’ve gotten the job done when they needed it. This group finished runner-up last year, and looks like they’re on a mission after an emotional semifinal win over Winterset. While free throw shooting is a major concern (48% as a team), they match up pretty well with the Warriors. In the second meeting with Norwalk, Rian Yates finished with a 26-10-10 triple-double, without Henry in the lineup. If they can get even a 12-6-6 stat line out of him in this one, they could bring home the school’s first state title.

One of these teams are winning their first state title tonight, and we can’t help by look back on the latest meeting between these teams, and really like the way Oskaloosa matches up with Norwalk.

Players to watch
Norwalk: Bowen Born (27.7 points, 77 3PM), Tyler Johnson (14.2 points), Tyler Endres (12.9 points, 68.6 FG%)
Oskaloosa: Cole Henry (19.6 points), Xavier Foster (14.5 points, 143 blocks), Rian Yates (12.5 points, 67 3PM)

Our pick: Oskaloosa 62, Norwalk 58


Noah Carter

4A Championship: #3 Cedar Falls (20-3) vs. #5 Dubuque Senior (19-3), 8:35 pm

How they got here: Cedar Falls blasted Sioux City East in the quarterfinals, 63-41, and outlasted North Scott 35-27 in the semifinals. Senior stole one from Iowa City West, 39-36, in the quarterfinals, and beat Waukee, 57-55 in overtime, in the semifinals.

Analysis: For the second straight year, it’s an all-MVC championship game in 4A, as defending champion Cedar Falls (who beat Iowa City West in the championship last year) takes on Dubuque Senior, who is seeking the school’s first state title.

Senior has played in a pair of thriller, winning their two state games by a combined five points, including an overtime win over Waukee. The Rams are led by Noah Carter, a 6-5 stretch forward who can score inside and out, but have four other players averaging between 6.8 and 9.8 points a game. This group has really locked in on the defensive end of late, as they’ve limited DJ Carton and Patrick McCaffery over the last few weeks. 

Cedar Falls has looked like the best defensive team in the state during their two tournament games, locking down Sioux City East, then holding North Scott to 27 points in the semifinals. The Tigers are filled with long, athletic players who can switch, and they’ll likely look to do what Waukee did in the semifinals, really packing it in and sagging off Cooper Medinger and Landon Hermsen. They’ll be looking to make life difficult for Carter and try to run Nick Timmerman and Sam Link off the 3-point line. Logan Wolf has been one of the most clutch players in the state this year, making key plays late in games on both ends of the floor.

Despite not playing each other this year, these teams are very familiar with each other, and this one might be a slugfest. This should be a fascinating chess match. Two excellent defensive teams, this one may come down to who shoots better at the free throw line. Advantage Senior, and the Rams pull out another thriller to take home the school’s first state title. For some reason, this seems like this year’s “team of destiny”.

Players to watch
Cedar Falls: Logan Wolf (15.5 points, 102 assists), Josh Ollendieck (10.8 points, 46.2 3P%), Jackson Frericks (9.9 points), Jack Campbell (8.5 points), Chase Courbat (6.3 points)
Dubuque Senior: Noah Carter (22.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, 56.7 FG%), Nick Timmerman (10.3 points), Landon Hermsen (9.0 points), Cooper Medinger (6.8 points, 107 assists, 30 turnovers), Sam Link (8.7 points, 46.5 3P%)

Our pick: Dubuque Senior 48, Cedar Falls 45