The Favorite: Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln has the second-best record in the state in Class 4A, but haven’t been getting a lot of love because they don’t play in a big-time conference. Lincoln hasn’t lost to an Iowa team this year, and its only loss came at the hands of one of the best teams in Nebraska is Bellevue West. The go-to man for the Lynx is sophomore Josh Dix. The second-year guard is averaging 17.7 points per game while shooting 53 percent from the field and 41 percent from deep. Dix is a do it all guard, and already has an offer from South Dakota State. When Dix is rolling, this team is tough to beat. He’s also a pest on the defensive end as he averages 1.4 steals per contest. Matt Evans and Christian Tidiane are averaging 7.4 and 6.9 points, and they get most of their buckets inside the arc. Kaden Baxter (6.7) can take and make the 3 for this team if Dix is getting hounded by opponents. Lincoln isn’t one of the top-scoring teams in 4A averaging 55 points per contest, so defense is what it prides itself on. The Lynx are the third-best defensive team in the per points allowed, and defense always travels. If the offense is producing enough, then Lincoln will be tough to beat if the defense keeps up.
Biggest threat: Dowling Catholic has had an up and down season. After losing the first game of the year at Iowa City West, the Maroons went on to win eight straight, then lost five in a row, and then went on to win six straight before losing to Southeast Polk on Thursday to close out the regular season. The leading scorer for Dowling is 6-foot-9 junior post Ryan Riggs (12.8) followed by senior guard Matt Stilwill (11.8). Drew Daniels is putting up 8.6 points per contest while freshman phenom Omaha Biliew is averaging 6.4. The key for Dowling will be guard play and staying out of foul trouble. Biliew has struggled with the latter at times this year, and that has opened things up for opponents. Biliew’s best trait right now is his defense and athleticism. He can guard almost every position, and if he’s smart about fouling, he can shut them down. If the Maroons make it to the substate title game, I’d be interested to see how they guard Dix with Biliew.
Darkhorse: Lewis Central is a team that could make some noise in 4A-8, especially if they get past their first-round matchup. The leading scorer for the Titans is senior wing Noah Rigatuso (14.8), who is an athletic, crafty playmaker. Following Rigtuso is Iowa football recruit Logan Jones (11.5). Jones is not the tallest post player, but he is physical and makes it tough for his opponents downlow with his strength. Senior Easton Dermody is averaging 11.4 points per contest, and is a capable 3-point shooter (39 percent). Thomas Fidone, the No. 1 tight end in the country, is not one to put points on the board, but is a freak athlete and a solid defender when he’s not fouling. Lewis Central sometimes plays as if it can beat anyone, but other times not so much. Free throw shooting is also a problem with this group. If the assertive Lewis Central comes out, then this team could be one to watch.
Players to Watch
2022 Josh Dix, Council Bluffs Lincoln
2021 Drew Dykstra, Urbandale
2021 Dylan Sams, Urbandale
2023 Chase Henderson, Des Moines Hoover
2023 Elijah Vos, Des Moines Hoover
2021 Ryan Riggs, Dowling Catholic
2020 Matt Stilwill, Dowling Catholic
2020 Drew Daniels, Dowling Catholic
2023 Omaha Biliew, Dowling Catholic
2020 Noah Rigatuso, Lewis Central
2020 Easton Dermody, Lewis Central
2020 Quran Owens, Council Bluffs Jefferson