Posted On: 01/12/21 1:48 PM
Unity Christian (6-3) at 2A #1 Boyden-Hull (9-0)
The defending champions in 2A are off to a strong 9-0 start behind the fantastic play of Tanner Te SlaaTannerTe Slaa6'4" | SFBoyden-Hull | 2022StateIA (22.4) and Marcus KeldermanMarcusKelderman6'1" | SGBoyden-Hull | 2021StateIA (19.7). That tandem is among the best in 2A, combing to average over 42 points a game for the Comets, who have had an extremely efficient offense so far. As a team, they’re shooting 54% from the floor and averaging 73.9 points a game, good for 4th in the class. Since the break, they’ve blown out MOC-Floyd Valley and Sibley-Ocheyedan by a combined 63 points, so this group is really starting to play great basketball.
Unity Christian’s three losses have come to 3A LeMars (59-53), a 10-1 Gehlen Catholic team (62-54) and a South Dakota powerhouse, Sioux Falls Christian (70-50). The Knights have a really balanced attack, with just one player averaging in double figures – Clayton Bosma (10.2). Seven other players average between 5.0 and 9.6 points a game, so there isn’t one player that you can just key in on defensively. They crash the offensive glass hard, averaging over 14 offensive boards a game, which can lead to a bevy of second-chance points, but they’ll need to limit turnovers (15.7 a game) against the Comets if they want to stay competitive. Boyden-Hull won last year’s meeting, 87-67.
Sioux City East (6-2) at 4A #6 Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln (6-3)
The Black Raiders have historically dominated this series, but CBAL swept the season series last year, 59-51 and 63-45, so the tides may be turning in this rivalry. The Lynx’s three losses this year have come to a trio of out-of-state powers – Blue Valley Northwest (KS), Millard North (NE) and Bellevue West (NE). They’ve gone 6-0 against Iowa competition, led by junior guard Josh DixJoshDix6'3" | SGCouncil Bluffs Lincoln | 2022State#250NationIA (21.9), who holds a handful of Division I offers and should see his stock skyrocket this summer. A versatile, efficient scorer with great size and length, he can impact the game on both ends of the floor. Jamison GruberJamisonGruber6'1" | PGCouncil Bluffs Lincoln | 2022StateIA (12.0) has turned into a reliable 3-point shooter, and Noah Sandbothe (11.0) and Christian TidianeChristianTidiane6'4" | PFCouncil Bluffs Lincoln | 2021StateIA (6.9) give the Lynx some size and athleticism in the paint.
East has been led by junior guard DaVares WhitakerDaVaresWhitaker6'0" | PGSioux City East | 2022StateIA (24.5), a supremely athletic lead guard who is also averaging 8.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists. He holds an offer from Cleveland State, and has given an inexperienced roster a major boost following his move from Arkansas. Bie Ruei (11.0) has given them some good perimeter shooting, and Dom Drent (11.3) can do a little bit of everything. This game is a battle for pole position in the MRAC, as both teams enter 5-0 in the league.
2A #3 Denver (9-1) at 2A #2 Dike-New Hartford (8-1)
Expect plenty of fireworks in this one, as these are the top two scoring offenses in 2A. Denver is averaging 80.2 points a game, while Dike-New Hartford is putting up 76.9 so far this season. Both teams hold a win over fellow NICL East power Aplington-Parkersburg and are the only two teams in the division with just one loss. Denver has four averaging in double figures, with the fifth starter just outside at 9.9 points a game (Will Curtis). Their Big Three of Isaac BeshIsaacBesh5'10" | CGDenver | 2021StateIA (15.8), Bryce PhelpsBrycePhelps6'2" | PGDenver | 2021StateIA (17.4) and Kyler MatthiasKylerMatthias6'2" | CGDenver | 2021StateIA (16.0) are all versatile scorers who share the ball at a high level, while Caylor HofferCaylorHoffer5'11" | SGDenver | 2022StateIA (11.8) can’t be ignored either.
Dike-New Hartford has rebounded from a loss to Wapsie Valley by winning their last six games by an average of 22.8 points a game. The Wolverines are led by senior guard Dane FullerDaneFuller5'10" | CGDike-New Hartford | 2021StateIA (22.1), who is putting together a fantastic senior year, shooting 57% from the floor and 45% from 3. AJ WegenerAJWegener5'10" | PGDike-New Hartford | 2021StateIA (13.3), Landen SullivanLandenSullivan5'10" | SGDike-New Hartford | 2021StateIA (13.6) and Zak WautersZakWauters5'11" | SGDike-New Hartford | 2021StateIA (11.1) pair with Fuller to give D-NH arguably the best backcourt in 2A basketball. It’ll be interesting to see how these coaching staffs look to defend the opposition, and free throws could decide this game late, which would give the edge to the Cyclones. (Note: After publishing, we learned that Dane FullerDaneFuller5'10" | CGDike-New Hartford | 2021StateIA will be out for the rest of the season after breaking a bone in his shooting hand.)
4A #7 Southeast Polk (4-1) at 4A #4 Johnston (1-1)
Southeast Polk is a group that is loaded with talented shooting threats, but the Rams haven’t shot it well yet this year (28.4% as a team from 3). They’re led by the senior backcourt of Chase BartlettChaseBartlett6'2" | SGSoutheast Polk | 2021StateIA (13.5) and James GlennJamesGlenn6'1" | PGSoutheast Polk | 2021StateIA (11.8), and they’ll need to find a way to get Glenn going if they want to live up to the high expectations they had coming into the year. He scored 33 points in their season-opening win over Dowling, but has struggled since that game. Boone BainBooneBain6'3" | SFSoutheast Polk | 2021StateIA (8.2) has been the best shooter on the team so far this year, knocking down 41% of his attempts from deep.
Johnston is coming off a win over #1 Waukee (although the Warriors were playing without Tucker DeVriesTuckerDeVries6'7" | SFWaukee | 2021State#123NationIA). The Dragons, like Southeast Polk, are led by a dynamic backcourt with North Dakota signee Reid GrantReidGrant6'1" | PGJohnston | 2021StateIA (16.0) leading the charge. Grant is an efficient scorer and facilitator who is among the best two-way players in the state. Trey LewisTreyLewis5'8" | PGJohnston | 2022StateIA (13.5) is a knockdown shooter, while Steven KramerStevenKramer6'4" | SGJohnston | 2022StateIA (6.5) and Jacob RunyanJacobRunyan5'9" | PGJohnston | 2022StateIA (5.0) are also very talented players on the perimeter. That quartet surrounds big man Max RoquetMaxRoquet6'6" | CJohnston | 2021StateIA (8.5), a force in the paint.
Camanche (8-2) at 3A #5 Monticello (8-0)
These teams met three times last year, splitting in the regular season before Camanche won the rubber match at State. The Indians have been led by senior guard Jordan LawrenceJordanLawrence5'10" | PGCamanche | 2021StateIA (14.4), one of the best on-ball defenders in the state, and a player who has really stepped up his offensive game this year. They received a major boost after the break with the return of standout forward Zach ErwinZachErwin6'4" | SFCamanche | 2022StateIA (14.0), who missed a handful of games before the break with an injury. He’s a versatile player who can do a little bit of everything on the floor. Zayne FellerZayneFeller6'3" | PFCamanche | 2021StateIA (10.9, 7.1 rebounds) gives them some size and physicality in the paint.
Monticello is absolutely blasting teams so far this season, winning games by an average of 44.5 points a game, and holding opponents to just 29.3 points a night. The Panthers returned pretty much everyone from last year’s 2A state qualifying team, and they’ve picked up right where they left off. Star forward Justin ReckerJustinRecker6'5" | PFMonticello | 2021StateIA (18.0) is off to a strong start, scoring at a high clip from anywhere on the floor, while sophomore guard Tate PetersenTatePetersen5'9" | PGMonticello | 2023StateIA (12.4) and senior guard Luke LambertLukeLambert6'3" | PGMonticello | 2021StateIA (11.6) have been solid scoring threats as well. They’ve gotten great production from freshman guard Preston Ries (9.8), and Connor LambertConnorLambert6'4" | SFMonticello | 2021StateIA (7.8) and Ty KehoeTyKehoe6'0" | PGMonticello | 2021StateIA (4.4) are fantastic role players who are experienced and do all the little things for this group. The Panthers are talented, deep and very experienced. The Recker-Lambert-Lambert-Kehoe group has played together for forever and they know each other extremely well. This group is averaging 24.3 assists a game, assisting on 82.6% of their made field goals, a testament to the unselfishness of this team.
Rock Valley (8-2) at 2A #5 Spirit Lake (11-0)
Rock Valley opened the season highly ranked in our 2A preseason poll, but they stumbled out of the gate a bit. The Rockets really have things rolling now, winners of six straight games by an average of 20.5 points a game. They’re led by the dynamic perimeter duo of Landyn Van Kekerix (18.9) and Bryson Van GrootheestBrysonVan Grootheest6'0" | CGRock Valley | 2022StateIA (18.3), a pair of talented junior scorers. Cole Huyser (10.2) gives them a solid tertiary scoring threat. The Rockets are playing like the team we expected before the season, and they’ll give Spirit Lake a run tonight.
Spirit Lake has been one of the best stories of the season so far, getting out to an 11-0 start. But seven of those wins have come by single-digits, and four of those have been by just two points. The Indians are led by versatile scoring threat Vance KatzfeyVanceKatzfey6'2" | SGSpirit Lake | 2022StateIA (18.3) and big wing Creighton Morisch (17.6, 9.0 rebounds), but they get strong contributions from their role players as well, and it seems like it’s a different player on a nightly basis. This group is used to playing in tight games, so they won’t back down in what should be a very competitive game.