Atlantic (8-14): Finishing at .500 in the conference this past season, Atlantic looks like they’re in a good position to take a step up in the conference as they return leading scorer Skyler HandlosSkylerHandlos6'2" | SFAtlantic | 2021StateIA. Handlos avergaed 16.6 points per game, which was good for 4th overall in the conference. The senior, Handlos is big guard at 6’2, who has a nice feel for the game with the ball in his hands, and he can step out and shoot it from the perimeter. He will be the player that is circled on opposing scouting reports. Atlantic loses there 2nd and 3rd scorers from a year ago in Tyler MoenTylerMoen6'1" | CGAtlantic | 2020StateIA (10.6) and Nile Peterson (10.1), and will look to Grant Sturm (7.5) and Dayton Templeton (6.6) to fill the missing production. The biggest hole that will need to be filled is the rebounding that Peterson leaves (9.1), and if the Trojans want to be successful this season will need to find a way to crash the boards on both ends of the floor. Another offensive weapon that could be handy for the Trojans is Craig Alan Becker and his perimeter shooting where he shot
Atlantic (8-14): Finishing at .500 in the conference this past season, Atlantic looks like they’re in a good position to take a step up in the conference as they return leading scorer Skyler HandlosSkylerHandlos6'2" | SFAtlantic | 2021StateIA
. Handlos avergaed 16.6 points per game, which was good for 4th overall in the conference. The senior, Handlos is big guard at 6’2, who has a nice feel for the game with the ball in his hands, and he can step out and shoot it from the perimeter. He will be the player that is circled on opposing scouting reports. Atlantic loses there 2nd and 3rd scorers from a year ago in Tyler MoenTylerMoen6'1" | CGAtlantic | 2020StateIA
(10.6) and Nile Peterson (10.1), and will look to Grant Sturm (7.5) and Dayton Templeton (6.6) to fill the missing production. The biggest hole that will need to be filled is the rebounding that Peterson leaves (9.1), and if the Trojans want to be successful this season will need to find a way to crash the boards on both ends of the floor. Another offensive weapon that could be handy for the Trojans is Craig Alan Becker and his perimeter shooting where he shot it at a clip of 36.8% from the 3pt line. Returning your leading scorer is always a positive for any team, and if the other pieces can fall into place for the Trojans they could improve in the conference pecking order.
Clarinda (9-14): Clarinda started the season on a pretty good streak with a 5-1 record, but would only win 4 more games the rest of the season finishing with a 9-14 record overall. The Cardinals will also lose 3 of their top 5 scorers from the past season, however, they have a good core of players who got good experience returning. Of that group, Junior Drew Brown, should assume the leading position for the team. He returns with a stat line of 10 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists but will need to cut down on his turnovers to improve that assist/turnover ratio. Amongst the rest of the returning players looking to make an impact is Senior Michael Shull and Junior Grant Jobe. Schull is a stat stuffer who does a little bit of everything for his team and Jobe tends to help the Cardinals on the boards. Clarinda has quite a few pieces returning to their team from a year ago, but will need to put them together to make upward movement in the conference.
Creston (12-10): A team that has a good chance at putting a good season together and compete for the conference title is Creston. They will return 6 of their top scorers from a year ago and atop of that list is Brance BakerBranceBaker6'0" | CGCreston | 2021StateIA
. The Senior guard is solid in all aspects of the game scoring 14.5 points per game, but also chipping in 2 steals per game for the Panthers’ defense. At the high school level returning a portion of your players can give you a leg up on your competition and that’s my feeling with this Creston team, and being able to mesh together as they’ve played with each other for a whole season already. The area of concern and emphasis for the Panthers is the turnover department, as they averaged 13.5 turnovers per game this past season. If there’s something that can deter teams from making a run at the conference, it’s turnovers. Three other players to know on this team are Seniors Cael KralikCaelKralik6'0" | CGCreston | 2021StateIA
(11.7 points), Colby BurgColbyBurg6'0" | SGCreston | 2021StateIA
(9.1 points), and Kaden Briggs (5.5 rebounds).
Denison-Schleswig (15-9): With a senior laden team, the Monarchs made a run at a conference title but coming up short and ending up third in the conference. Going into this 2020-2021 season, they will be looking for players to step up and fill production left by 4 of their top scorers on offense. The highest scorer returning for this team is Evan Turin (3.4 points) and Braiden Heiden (3.0 points). That leaves a lot to be desired on offense and will take some upticks in offensive production to repeat team results the same as last year. The Monarchs will also lose size inside, and will be looking to refill that for defense and an inside presence. Heiden (37.8%) does bring shooting capabilities from the perimeter and as a team they will need to improve an overall percentage from 3 of 31.7%.
Glenwood (17-6): The leading candidate for player of the year, Senior Ryan BlumRyanBlum6'4" | SFGlenwood | 2021StateIA
, is a huge part of why the Rams could aruably be the favorite to win the conference after coming up just short this past season. Blum is a solid shooter from the perimeter and is good at impacting the game in all different ways. Having played significant minutes for the Rams since his freshman year, Blum has improved his production and team role every year. There’s no doubt opposing eyes will be on Blum when he has the ball and that will provide ways for his teammates to get open and convert. Losing all-purpose guard Zach CarrZachCarr6'0" | PGGlenwood | 2020StateIA
and sharp shooter Zach Palmer from last year’s team, will provide voids that need to be filled by others such as Silas Bales (5.5) and Ben Hughes (4.7). With Blum leading the charge, the Rams should be in a prime spot to contend for a conference title, but will need some other pieces to take steps forward.
Harlan (18-7): The runner up in the conference this past season was Harlan, but they will have some things to work out if they want to repeat that success or more. Harlan loses their top 3 scorers but does return a group of widespread players ranging from sophomores, juniors and seniors that could step up and produce. The top one that will be looking to take his game to another level is Michael Erlmeier. The Senior guard, was just a touch under 9 points per game this past season and will look to become the scorer the Cyclones will need this season to be successful again. Connor Frame is a name to watch that has potential to also take over more scoring for his team as a Junior. If this team can keep the turnovers down as they did last season at a 9 turnovers per game average, they can set themselves up in a good position.
Kuemper Catholic (8-15): The Kuemper Catholic Knights will have some shoes needing to be filled going into this season. 5 of their top 6 scorers have graduated and they will need more production from John Mayhall who averaged 6.6 points per game this past season. The Senior will need to score the ball more than he did a season ago to fill the production that was lost. They will also rely on another group of Seniors and a Junior Will Schenkelberg to shoulder the rest of the scoring load. Kuemper will need to continue to get into passing lanes as they notched 7.3 steals per game in order to generate more opportunities to score.
Lewis Central (14-9): Lewis Central will be the defending champs going into the season, but will have to answer some questions as they lose 4 of their top 5 scorers from a year ago. The Titans didn’t have the best overall record, but did end up going undefeated in the conference to claim the conference. The top scorer that returns for his Senior season is football standout, Thomas FidoneThomasFidone6'5" | PFLewis Central | 2021StateIA
, who was a solid rebounder with 7 boards a game and 8.3 points per game. He has athleticism and a big frame to command the paint as he was also the team’s leader in blocked shots. After Fidone there isn’t many proven players yet at the varsity level but a few that could expand their game as their role expands. Look for Juniors JC Dermody and Jake Duffey to take the next step in their game. Duffey provides more size inside at 6’9 and has impressed at other camps this summer and could be the X-factor in the conference.
Red Oak (5-17): I’ll be looking for Red Oak to take a step in the right direction, and improving from an 0-11 conference record this past season. They are returning nearly 100% of their scoring from last year led by Senior Kobe Johnson (11.1). Juniors Ryan Johnson and Baylor Bergren were tied for 2nd on the team in scoring with 7.9 points per game but that will only help the Tigers going into this season. They will need to shoot the ball better and hone in on a combination of players and rotations that work well together in order to create some cohesion amongst them not to mention taking care of the ball a lot better (18 TO’s per game). I’m not expecting the Tigers to light up the scoreboards or even have a winning record for that matter, but I don’t expect them to be winless in the conference and to compete at a higher level against all competition.
Shenandoah (5-18): Shenandoah will have their top scorer to replace, but have some prime candidates to do so starting with Braden Knight (11.6). Knight will have some returning support from Senior Brody Owen (6.1) and Sophomore Blake Herold (5.7). Like Red Oak, Shenandoah will need to exemplify that they can take care of the ball better than last season, as they averaged 15.3 per game. The Mustangs were also lacking in the perimeter shooting department as only one player shot it over 30% from the 3pt line and only 4 players shot it over 20% from the same spot on the floor. Improvements will need to be made, but the Mustangs should have a good core of players at the top if they can clean up mistakes.
St. Albert (10-15): The Falcons are returning one of the top players in the conference in Sam RallisSamRallis6'1" | PFSt. Albert | 2021StateIA
. Rallis’ stat line is impressive as he posted a 15.4 points, 1.8 assists, 8.1 rebounds, 4 steals, and shot it at a 70% clip from the field. The Senior guard could have a stake as the conference’s best players, but I’d like to see his efforts result more in the win column. With a player like Rallis, your team stands a chance in the competition. He will look to his teammates Connor Cerny (8.3 points, 3.3 rebounds) to shoulder some scoring load, and Cy Patterson to continue to spread the ball around (2.4 assists). The Falcons were competitive against all of their conference opponents but just couldn’t come up with timely plays in order to win, but I’m looking for this team to take that next step and turn those results into wins more.
Projected Order of Finish
2. Lewis Central
4. St. Albert
8. Red Oak
10. Kuemper Catholic
Analysis: With having my pick for conference player of the year in Ryan BlumRyanBlum6'4" | SFGlenwood | 2021StateIA
, Glenwood looks like they could be the favorites going in. I wouldn’t sleep on any of the next three teams in Lewis Central, Harlan and St. Albert. Lewis Central has a lot of length, height, and athleticism and could make another run at the conference title. Glenwood does have a few holes to fill, and it will interesting to see if they can compensate for those. St. Albert will be an under-the-radar team as well with Sam RallisSamRallis6'1" | PFSt. Albert | 2021StateIA
, and a returning core that were never really out of the game this past season.
Preseason Player of the Year
Ryan BlumRyanBlum6'4" | SFGlenwood | 2021StateIA
, Glenwood High School (2021): 19.7 points, 2 assists, 9.2 rebounds, 47.7% FG, 34% 3pt
Blum has been on the varsity scene for the past four years now, playing significant minutes as a Freshman on a state championship team. Blum has taken his game up a notch every year since and I’m expecting more of the same from him this season. Nearly averaging a double-double a year ago, I’d be willing to bet he averages out as a double-double player by the end of the year. Blum, who just committed to DII Wayne State, will look to lead his team deep into the postseason again as a senior.
Players to watch
Ryan BlumRyanBlum6'4" | SFGlenwood | 2021StateIA
, Glenwood (2021)
Thomas FidoneThomasFidone6'5" | PFLewis Central | 2021StateIA
, Lewis Central (2021)
Jake Duffey, Lewis Central (2022)
Michael Erlmeier, Harlan (2021)
Connor Frame, Harlan (2022)
Sam RallisSamRallis6'1" | PFSt. Albert | 2021StateIA
, St. Albert (2021)
Brance BakerBranceBaker6'0" | CGCreston | 2021StateIA
, Creston (2021)
Kael Kralik, Creston (2021)
Skyler HandlosSkylerHandlos6'2" | SFAtlantic | 2021StateIA
, Atlantic (2021)
Drew Brown, Clarinda (2022)
Kobe Johnson, Red Oak (2021)
Braden Knight, Shenandoah (2021)