Posted On: 09/23/20 10:44 AM
1.) North Linn (Class 2A runner-up, 26-1 last year, 67.4% of scoring returning)
After two years in Class 2A, Lynx drop back down to 1A this season…Won the 2A championship in 2018-19, and finished runner-up to Boyden-Hull in 2019-20…Have compiled a 107-3 record in the last four years…Lose huge piece in Austin MillerAustinMiller6'2" | PFNorth Linn | 2020StateIA, but bring back four juniors who started as sophomores, headlined by Austin HilmerAustinHilmer5'11" | PGNorth Linn | 2022StateIA…Quick, athletic Lynx thrive by creating chaos, and with loads of experience back, look for the defense to be as strong as ever…Dylan KurtDylanKurt6'3" | SFNorth Linn | 2022StateIA provides additional scoring, while Gunner VanourneyGunnerVanourney5'11" | SGNorth Linn | 2022StateIA is a knockdown shooter who is an excellent fit alongside Hilmer and his penetrating abilities…Routinely roll through the Tri-Rivers Conference, but may be pushed a bit more this year with strong squads from Springville and Alburnett…Speed, athleticism, discipline, and talent make North Linn the team to beat in 1A this season.
2.) Wapsie Valley (State champion, 21-7 last year, 67.9% of scoring returning)
Defending state champions lose a huge piece in Kiks RosengartenKiksRosengarten6'7" | PFWapsie Valley | 2020StateIA, the heart and soul of last year’s team…Good news is that he was the only senior…With Rosengarten gone, Warriors become more guard-oriented, with four returning starters all perimeter-based…Gunner MeyerGunnerMeyer6'4" | SFWapsie Valley | 2022StateIA had a breakout state tournament and could emerge as this team’s new star…Blayde BellisBlaydeBellis5'9" | PGWapsie Valley | 2021StateIA and Kobe RisseKobeRisse6'0" | PGWapsie Valley | 2021StateIA return in the backcourt, giving the Warriors experienced ball-handlers and playmakers…Will need to find a big body to replace the toughness and physicality that Rosengarten brought to the table…Disciplined group that will defend and grind out games…If Meyer can emerge as a 20+ point scorer, they have a real chance to defend their title; he’s a matchup problem with his length and athleticism on the wing.
Note: After publication, we learned that the Warriors have added Mason HarterMasonHarter6'5" | PFWapsie Valley | 2023StateIA to the roster, a significant addition. Harter averaged 14.5 points and 10.6 rebounds a game as a 6-6 freshman at Sigourney last season. As a result, Wapsie Valley has moved from #4 up to #2.
3.) Montezuma (State semifinalist, 25-3 last year, 91.8% of scoring returning)
Braves will be led by arguably 1A’s best player, Trey ShearerTreyShearer5'10" | PGMontezuma | 2021StateIA (25.2 points per game, 5.1 assists)…Truman State commit Shearer headlines a dynamic backcourt that includes younger brother Masin ShearerMasinShearer5'7" | PGMontezuma | 2023StateIA and Cole WattsColeWatts5'10" | SGMontezuma | 2021StateIA, a knockdown shooter who plays much bigger than the 5-10 he’s listed at…Big man Eddie BurgessEddieBurgess6'4" | PFMontezuma | 2022StateIA controls the glass, runs the floor and protects the rim in the middle of Monte’s 2-3 zone…Depth outside the top four will be a question mark, especially early as younger players get acclimated to major varsity minutes, but the top four is among the best in the state…Other players will need to step it up when they make it back to Des Moines, as role players have struggled a bit alongside Shearer at State the last two years…Have the talent to win it all.
4.) Springville (State qualifier, 20-6 last year, 83.7% of scoring returning)
One of last year’s biggest surprises, Orioles won 20 games, advanced to State for the first time in 45 years…Four starters back from that group should send expectations through the roof in Springville…Alex KoppesAlexKoppes5'10" | PGSpringville | 2021StateIA is the leading returning scorer, pacing an offensive attack that should be among the best in 1A…Real breakout star of this group may be junior wing Rhenden WagamanRhendenWagaman6'3" | SGSpringville | 2022StateIA, a long, athletic, shot-making wing who came on strong to close last season, could emerge as 20+ point scorer in the Tri-Rivers this season…Fellow junior Luke MensterLukeMenster5'10" | PGSpringville | 2022StateIA serves as primary ball-handler and is a good decision-maker with the ball in his hands…Group is filled with talented guards who can handle it and dish it…Orioles will be undersized and guard-heavy, which hurt them last year at State against Bishop Garrigan’s size, but will be lightning-fast and play at a high tempo…Could be a special season for the Oriole community.
5.) West Fork (State semifinalist, 24-4 last year, 64.8% of scoring returning)
Warhawks are always strong and bring back their top two scorers from last year’s semifinalist…Kayden AmesKaydenAmes6'1" | SGWest Fork | 2021StateIA and Jakob WashingtonJakobWashington6'2" | SFWest Fork | 2021StateIA are a dynamic one-two punch who will be tough for teams to slow down…Ames is a knockdown 3-point shooter with the ability to carry a team on any given night, while Washington is a do-it-all forward who pounds the glass…Look for Cail WeaverCailWeaver6'0" | SGWest Fork | 2021StateIA and Joe Ingham to adjust well to larger roles…Lose three starters, but bring back a lot of players who saw minutes on a nightly basis, with eight of the top 11 scorers returning…Annually a strong program, don’t expect anything different this year in Sheffield.
6.) Martensdale-St. Mary’s (State qualifier, 23-4 last year, 83.1% of scoring returning)
Blue Devils made first State appearance last year, bring back four starters from that group…Led by do-everything wing Trey BakerTreyBaker6'4" | SFMartensdale-St. Mary's | 2021StateIA, who averaged 16.7 points, 7.9 rebounds…Jack FraneyJackFraney5'7" | PGMartensdale-St. Marys | 2021StateIA is one of the best lead guards in the class, a true pass-first point guard who looks to get others involved…Carson ElbertCarsonElbert6'3" | SFMartensdale-St. Marys | 2021StateIA, Hogan FraneyHoganFraney6'0" | CGMartensdale-St. Mary's | 2022StateIA, JT Archibald are the other key contributors back from last year’s group…Not a team that shoots it very well from 3, but can get to the bucket for efficient offense…Lose big man Isaac GavinIsaacGavin6'10" | CMartensdale-St Marys | 2020StateIA as a rim protector, but will allow them to play smaller and faster…Strength of schedule always a question playing in the Bluegrass, and could be an issue again when they get to Des Moines.
7.) Alburnett (15-8 last year, 55.3% of scoring returning)*
Pirates bring back a pair in Shane NeighborShaneNeighbor6'2" | PFAlburnett | 2021StateIA and Reed StallmanReedStallman6'3" | PFAlburnett | 2021StateIA who dominate the glass, combining for over 17 rebounds a game last year…Also bring back point guard Hunter CavesHunterCaves6'0" | PGAlburnett | 2021StateIA, who missed his junior year with a torn ACL…Caves was a standout as a sophomore, a tough, physical guard who can get to the bucket and dish it…Caves returning adds another dimension to their attack, giving them a lead guard who can make the offense click…Shooting could be an issue for this group following graduation of Austin HuberAustinHuber5'10" | SGAlburnett | 2020StateIA, but they’ll pound the offensive glass and find other ways to score.
8.) Meskwaki Settlement (18-5 last year, 91.9% of scoring returning)
Warriors rolled through the Iowa Star last year with a 14-0 record in conference play…Bring back their top four scorers, and only lose one player from last year’s team…Lead guard Taurice GrantTauriceGrant5'11" | PGMeskwaki Settlement School | 2021StateIA makes a major impact on both ends of the floor, averaging 16-6-7-5 last year. Victor BalderasVictorBalderas6'2" | PFMeskwaki Settlement | 2021StateIA, Osceola Tyon and Tiernan WanateeTiernanWanatee5'11" | SGMeskwaki Settlement | 2021StateIA provide double-figure scoring as well…This group will be deep and will look to apply pressure constantly, a nightmare matchup for teams that don’t have great ball-handling options.
9.) New London (16-8 last year, 57.5% of scoring returning)
Tigers have a Division I point guard in sophomore Blaise PorterBlaisePorter5'11" | PGNew London | 2023StateIA, who holds an offer from Bryant…Porter is an outstanding talent who can score from all three levels, gets teammates involved, and is a pest on the defensive end of the floor with his quickness and hands…Other key returnee is fellow sophomore, 6-6 forward Kade BenjaminKadeBenjamin6'5" | PFNew London | 2023StateIA, an agile big who runs the floor, can shoot and protect the rim…Devon Swanson and Torren Riley are the only other returnees with experience, but this group will win a lot of games on the backs of Porter and Benjamin.
10.) Lake Mills (State qualifier, 23-3 last year, 53.6% of scoring returning)
Bulldogs were the #1 seed in last year’s state tournament, upset by Wapsie Valley in the opening round…Bring back four of their top six scorers, led by senior guard Dashawn LinnenDashawnLinnen6'3" | SGLake Mills | 2021StateIA…Caleb BaconCalebBacon6'4" | PFLake Mills | 2021StateIA provides toughness in the paint, averaged 10.6 points, 9.3 rebounds…Look for breakout years from Bennett Berger and Wyatt Helming, who played significant roles on last year’s team…They’ll get tested in the Top of Iowa Conference, which will prep them for postseason play again.
Eleven more teams to watch
Ankeny Christian (21-4 last year, 63.3% of scoring returning)
Always one of the highest scoring teams in the state, Eagles bring back seven of their top nine from last season…Cale LeeverCaleLeever5'9" | SGAnkeny Christian Academy | 2021StateIA is the leading returnee, a talented guard who can score from anywhere, as can Colby ElrodColbyElrod5'8" | CGAnkeny Christian Academy | 2021StateIA…Lead guard Malachi JohnsonMalachiJohnson5'9" | PGAnkeny Christian Academy | 2022StateIA is the straw that stirs the drink, talented lead guard who dishes it and rarely turns it over…Look for senior wing Matthew VollMatthewVoll6'3" | PFAnkeny Christian Academy | 2021StateIA to make a bigger impact this year…ACA rarely tested in league play, so they stepped up the non-conference slate, will need to do so again this year to prepare themselves for postseason play…They’ll have a real chance to make school’s third State appearance.
Belle Plaine (17-6 last year, 73.1% of scoring returning)
Top three scorers return for the Plainsmen…Old school team that likes to get the ball into the paint, doesn’t rely on jumpers too often…Luke DeMeulenaereLukeDeMeulenaere6'1" | PFBelle Plaine | 2021StateIA and Ben DeMeulenaereBenDeMeulenaere6'3" | PFBelle Plaine | 2022StateIA combined to average 29.5 points, 17.1 rebounds last season…Good high-low game with those two, while Jackson Tegeler adds some additional scoring punch…Need to find a quality lead ball handler following the graduation of Trevin Straight…Will look to grind games out, and should win plenty…Postseason success will come down to matchups.
Bishop Garrigan (Runner-up, 24-3 last year, 35.0% of scoring returning)
Last year’s second-place team returns just one starter, but it’s a big one in Angelo WinkelAngeloWinkel6'9" | CBishop Garrigan | 2021StateIA…Augustana (SD) commit Winkel impacts the game on both ends with his size and athleticism, averaged 18.7 points, 10 rebounds and nearly 2 blocks a game…Kyle Schaaf is the only other returnee with significant experience from last year’s team, a wing who provides some length and size…Depth, experience will be question marks, but Winkel will be the best player on the floor on most nights and is a good enough talent to win a lot of games in 1A.
Grand View Christian (12-8 last year, 49.9% of scoring returning)
Thunder were 5-2 against 1A competition last year…Lose two of their top three scorers, but bring back a lot of young talent…Junior guard Manny HammondsMannyHammonds6'0" | SGGrand View Christian | 2022StateIA can fill it up in a hurry, but the real standout is sophomore big Daniel TobilobaDanielTobiloba6'10" | CGrand View Christian | 2023StateIA…Tobiloba is a 6-11 big man who is incredibly agile and long, and is a great rim protector; he looks primed to have a breakout sophomore campaign…Caleb Parlee gives them some more size at 6-5…Team will struggle to shoot the rock, but has a lot of size and will defend like crazy…Independent schedule allows them to really test themselves, get ready for postseason play.
Grundy Center (13-10 last year, 80.6% of scoring returning)
Spartans lost five games by single digits last year, bring back top five scorers from that group…Brayden SawyerBraydenSawyer5'10" | SGGrundy Center | 2022StateIA, Wes Willis are a solid outside-inside tandem, with Sawyer shooting 42% from deep last season…Willis pairs with Nick Ascher to provide some beef in the paint, allowing them to control the glass…Dexter Whitehill, Zach Opehim, Dayne Zinkula also return with experience…Should have better depth than most 1A teams, and will be physical.
Janesville (19-5 last year, 84.8% of scoring returning)
Not much was expected from Janesville last year, with very little experience returning, but they won 19 games as forward WIley Sherburne emerged as a star…Sherburne averaged 17.8 points and 7.3 rebounds…Top three scorers, and six of top seven, return…Leo Dodd and Jaden Appleby give them a solid tandem of ball handling options, while Joey Carlson stuffs the stat sheet…Experienced group surprised people last year, but won’t surprise anyone this year.
Newman Catholic (10-12 last year, 69.7% of scoring returning)
Knights had an up-and-down season in tricky Top of Iowa Conference, but plenty of reason for optimism…Three of top four scorers last season were freshmen…Douglas TaylorDouglasTaylor6'5" | PFNewman Catholic | 2023StateIA is a versatile forward, Noah Hamilton a solid wing, and Max BurtMaxBurt5'11" | PGNewman Catholic | 2023StateIA a do-it-all lead guard who dished out 6 assists a night as a freshman…They’ll need Elijah Brinkley to step up and become a knockdown shooting threat…Young team took some lumps last year, will be strong the next three years.
River Valley (15-8 last year, 80.9% of scoring returning)
Wolverines led by one of 1A’s best scorers in Garrett TrappGarrettTrapp6'1" | CGRiver Valley | 2021StateIA, who averaged over 21 a game last year…Tyler Towne, a double-double machine, also returns…Lose two starters, but bring back top options off the bench, so should have a good amount of experience…Won 15 games last year and bring back 81% of their scoring; they’ll be heard from.
St. Albert (10-15 last year, 62.5% of scoring returning)
Senior forward Sam RallisSamRallis6'1" | PFSt. Albert | 2021StateIA is one of the best players in 1A, coming off strong season with 15-8 and 4 steals, shooting 71% from the floor…Connor Cerny gives Falcons a solid secondary scoring option, while Cy Patterson returns as the lead ball-handler…Falcons are a 1A school playing in a 3A conference, so the record will never be great, but they’re always a threat come postseason time.
Tri-Center (18-5 last year, 83.4% of scoring returning)
Trojans drop down to 1A this season, bring back two double-figure scorers in Leyton NelsonLeytonNelson6'4" | PFTri-Center | 2021StateIA (17.8) and Ethan Alfers (11.3)…Nelson will be one of the most difficult matchups in the class with his ability to score inside and out, rebound at a high level…Trent Kozeal provides solid presence as the lead ball-handler, averaged 5 assists a game last season…Three of their five losses last year came to 2A power Treynor, the other two were 3-point losses to AHSTW; they’ll welcome the drop down to 1A competition come postseason time.
Wapello (9-12 last year, 90.4% of scoring returning)
Expect major improvement from the Indians, who bring back top three scorers from a group that improved late last year…Headlined by do-it-all guard Maddox GriffinMaddoxGriffin6'1" | PGWapello | 2022StateIA, who led them in every major category except blocks, putting up 16-6-6-4 stat line…If Griffin improves from deep (24% as a sophomore), he could become one of 1A’s most dynamic scorers…6-5 Caden ThomasCadenThomas6'5" | PFWapello | 2021StateIA, 6-3 Rhett Smith give Wapello a solid trio to build around…Thomas is an efficient scorer who does his damage around the rim, coming off a 14-point a game season…With the top three returning to a group that was improving, expect Wapello to make a leap this year.