Posted On: 01/1/21 12:00 PM


4A #7 Hempstead (2-1) at 3A #7 Assumption (4-1)

These teams met at Hempstead on opening night, a game won by the Mustangs, 66-55. With both teams looking for another game, they agreed to make a return trip to Davenport to take on the Knights. 

In the first meeting, seniors Michael DuaxMichaelDuax6'5" | SFHempstead | 2021StateIA and Jamari SmithJamariSmith6'4" | SFHempstead | 2021StateIA each scored 27 points for Hempstead. Duax, a Northern Iowa signee, is averaging 21.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.0 steals on the year. Smith is averaging 13.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals. He has struggled from the arc since the opening win and will be looking to get back on track. Hempstead is shooting just 22.4% from 3 as a team, a number that shouldn’t continue for too long.

Emarion EllisEmarionEllis6'4" | SFAssumption | 2021State#141NationIA, a Texas signee, scored 20 points for Assumption in the opening loss, his first game with the Knights after transferring from Davenport Central. The Knights have won four straight games following that loss, including strong wins over Pleasant Valley and North Scott. Ellis (16.4) is leading the team in scoring, but junior wing Noah MackNoahMack6'0" | SGAssumption | 2022StateIA (13.5) and senior guard Dayne HodgeDayneHodge5'11" | PGAssumption | 2021StateIA (12.0) have been really strong as well this year.



4A #1 Waukee (1-0) at 2A #6 Aplington-Parkersburg (7-1)

After playing just one game before the holiday break due to virtual learning, Waukee was looking to pick up some extra games, and Aplington-Parkersburg stepped up to host the Warriors. Former college roommates Justin Ohl (Waukee) and Aaron Thomas (A-P) worked together to get this game put together. The Falcons aren’t going to back down here, but they will be overmatched by the overwhelming size and talent that Waukee will put on the floor.

A-P is off to a strong start, with their balanced attack leading to a nice 7-1 mark at the break. Three players are averaging in double figures, led by senior Owen ThomasOwenThomas6'4" | SFAplington-Parkersburg | 2021StateIA (12.9). Garrett Hempen (12.8, 42.1 3P%) and Josh HaanJoshHaan6'6" | PFAplington-Parkersburg | 2021StateIA (11.5) are also averaging in double-figures, while Jayden MackieJaydenMackie6'0" | PGAplington-Parkersburg | 2022StateIA (9.1), Gavin Thomas (7.6), Christian HaugstadChristianHaugstad6'7" | CAplington-Parkersburg | 2022StateIA (9.6) and Elijah Switzer (8.0) are all good scoring threats as well. 

Waukee dominated their opener against 4A defending champion Ankeny, 65-28, with four players scoring in double figures – Tucker DeVriesTuckerDeVries6'7" | SFWaukee | 2021State#123NationIA (14), Payton SandfortPaytonSandfort6'7" | SFWaukee | 2021State#138NationIA (14), Omaha BiliewOmahaBiliew6'9" | SFWaukee | 2023State#6NationIA (15) and Wyatt HestonWyattHeston6'7" | SFWaukee | 2021StateIA (10). The Warriors have the most talented roster we’ve seen in the state since the Ames teams that had Harrison Barnes and Doug McDermott, and A-P will have their hands full trying to defend this huge, talented group.


Ankeny Christian Academy (5-2) at 2A #2 Denver (7-0)

This is an interesting non-conference game to re-open play, with ACA making the 2+ hour trip to Denver to face a high-powered Cyclones attack. The Eagles have some weapons themselves on the offensive end, led by senior wing Cale LeeverCaleLeever5'9" | SGAnkeny Christian Academy | 2021StateIA (16.1), a versatile scorer who can get the job done inside and out. Junior lead guard Malachi JohnsonMalachiJohnson5'9" | PGAnkeny Christian Academy | 2022StateIA (7.4) is the straw that stirs the drink for ACA, a heady lead guard who limits turnovers and gets others involved at a high level. They’ve gotten good perimeter shooting early from senior Matthew VollMatthewVoll6'3" | PFAnkeny Christian Academy | 2021StateIA (8.6, 43.8 3P%) and junior Ben McDermott (10.7, 45.2%), and those two will need to knock down some shots if they want to keep pace with Denver. 

Denver is averaging 82.6 points a game so far this season, and beating teams by an average of 32.7 points. They’re led by their “Big Three” of seniors Isaac BeshIsaacBesh5'10" | CGDenver | 2021StateIA (17.3), Bryce PhelpsBrycePhelps6'2" | PGDenver | 2021StateIA (18.7), and Kyler MatthiasKylerMatthias6'2" | CGDenver | 2021StateIA (15.4). That trio has been playing together on varsity since they were freshmen, building towards this season. Each of them are capable ball-handlers and decision-makers, and they can each fill it up from distance as well. Caylor HofferCaylorHoffer5'11" | SGDenver | 2022StateIA (11.6) and Will Curtis (9.9) are good scoring threats as well, giving this group a ton of balance. You can’t just focus on slowing down one player.