Posted On: 01/5/21 10:30 AM
4A #9 Davenport North (1-0) at 3A #7 Assumption (5-1)
North has played just one game this year, a 79-39 win against an overmatched Clinton squad. The Wildcats are coming off a strong season that saw them qualify for State for the first time in 17 years, where they pushed top-seeded Centennial to the brink. Three ’Cats scored in double-figures in their opener – Jayden HoustonJaydenHouston6'3" | SFDavenport North | 2021StateIA (16), Mike Lowery (14) and Quincy WisemanQuincyWiseman6'3" | SFDavernport North | 2021StateIA (12). Houston is a D2 Minot State commit, while Wiseman will play college football at Iowa State. They also got a strong debut from freshman Kyle Lamonte, who had 8 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists against the River Kings. This is a very athletic, experienced team that can create some chaos on the defensive end of the floor. Assumption will need to protect the ball against this group that really likes to get up into opposing ball-handlers, forcing them to make decisions.
Assumption has run off five straight wins following a season-opening loss to Hempstead, including a revenge win against the Mustangs on Saturday. Texas signee Emarion EllisEmarionEllis6'4" | SFAssumption | 2021State#141NationIA (17.3) leads the team in scoring, rebounding and assists, and is starting to settle in with his new teammates following his transfer from Davenport Central. The Knights have gotten good shooting from Dayne HodgeDayneHodge5'11" | PGAssumption | 2021StateIA (11.5, 38.1 3P%) and Noah MackNoahMack6'0" | SGAssumption | 2022StateIA (13.5, 44.4%), giving them a strong three-headed attack. The Knights will have the best player on the floor in Ellis, but they’ll need to value the basketball in this game to avoid run-outs for North.
Millard North (NE) at 4A #3 Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln (6-1)
The Lynx will have their hands full in this meeting, as Millard North is ranked in the top 25 teams in the country by MaxPreps. They’re led by senior wing Hunter Sallis, who holds offers from pretty much every school in the country and is ranked 8th nationally by PrepHoops. Wing Saint Thomas is starting to garner high-major interest, and former CBAL guard Jadin Johnson is an Old Dominion signee. This group is loaded with talent, with three of the top four 2021s in Nebraska and the #2 2022, power forward Jasen Green.
CBAL has rolled against Iowa competition this year, with their lone loss coming to Kansas City-area powerhouse Blue Valley Northwest. Junior wing Josh DixJoshDix6'3" | SGCouncil Bluffs Lincoln | 2022State#250NationIA (20.6, 7.3 rebounds) is the standout, an efficient scoring wing who can dominate games on both ends of the floor. Jamison GruberJamisonGruber6'1" | PGCouncil Bluffs Lincoln | 2022StateIA (10.9, 4.1 assists) and Noah Sandbothe (10.0, 2.0 blocks) are solid contributors as well for the Lynx. Against a hyper-athletic, talented team like Millard North, they’ll really need to try and limit possessions in this game.
3A #8 Wahlert Catholic (3-0) at 3A #10 Western Dubuque (6-1)
Despite graduating their top three scorers from last year’s team, Wahlert is off to a strong 3-0 start that includes a win over crosstown rival Senior. The Golden Eagles have three players averaging in double-figures in Nathan Donovan (16.0), TJ FowlerTJFowler5'9" | PGWahlert Catholic | 2021StateIA (14.0) and Duke Faley (12.0), while three other players are close – Nick Bandy (9.7), Carson Cummer (9.0) and Ben Freed (9.0). This group is deep, balanced, and they’re gaining valuable experience early on.
The Bobcats have also gotten off to a somewhat surprisingly strong start, with their lone loss coming by 2 to Waterloo West. Their resume includes wins over Hempstead and Senior. Three are averaging double-figures in Dylan JohnsonDylanJohnson6'6" | SFWestern Dubuque | 2021StateIA (14.7), Nick BryantNickBryant5'9" | PGWestern Dubuque | 2022StateIA (13.0) and Garrett BaumhoverGarrettBaumhover6'0" | PGWestern Dubuque | 2021StateIA (11.3), and the ’Cats are shooting it really well from behind the arc, shooting 40.8% as a team. They share the ball really well, assisting on over 71% of their field goals. The battle between stretch-4 Dylan JohnsonDylanJohnson6'6" | SFWestern Dubuque | 2021StateIA and sophomore big man Duke Faley will be fun to watch here.
2A #7 AHSTW (9-0) at Underwood (5-1)
AHSTW swept the season series last year, 67-57 and 54-48, and the Vikings are off to a strong 9-0 start that includes quality wins over Treynor and St. Albert. Junior guard Raydden GrobeRayddenGrobe6'2" | SFAHSTW | 2022StateIA (21.3) has emerged as one of 2A’s best scorers, but he’s far from alone, with sophomores Brayden Lund (18.1) and Kyle Sternberg (16.3) also capable of really filling it up on a given night. This is a group that can put up points in bunches, which will put a lot of pressure on an Underwood defense that has been strong so far this season.
The Eagles are allowing just 44.6 points a game, and they’ll need to lean on that strength in this one and try to grind out a win. They’re a more balanced team, with five players averaging between 7.3 and 12.5 points a game, led by senior guard Timothy Conn.
2A #2 Denver (8-0) at 1A #2 Wapsie Valley (5-1)
The game of the night comes in the NICL East, where the defending 1A champion Warriors host the Cyclones. Denver swept the season series last year, 57-51 and 71-53, and have been blasting teams so far this year, winning by an average of 30 points a game behind 2A’s most potent offense. The Cyclones are averaging 81.6 points a game, with four players averaging in double figures – Bryce PhelpsBrycePhelps6'2" | PGDenver | 2021StateIA (18.7), Isaac BeshIsaacBesh5'10" | CGDenver | 2021StateIA (17.3), Kyler MatthiasKylerMatthias6'2" | CGDenver | 2021StateIA (15.4) and Caylor HofferCaylorHoffer5'11" | SGDenver | 2022StateIA (11.6) – with Will Curtis (9.9) just outside. This is an explosive team that is filled with weapons.
Wapsie Valley got off to a 4-0 start, including a quality win over Dike-New Hartford, before a blowout loss to Aplington-Parkersburg. They rebounded with a win over 3A Decorah before the break. The Warriors have four averaging in double-figures in Mason HarterMasonHarter6'5" | PFSigourney | 2023StateIA (12.8), Blayde BellisBlaydeBellis5'9" | PGWapsie Valley | 2021StateIA (12.5), Kobe RisseKobeRisse6'0" | PGWapsie Valley | 2021StateIA (10.8) and Gunner MeyerGunnerMeyer6'4" | SFWapsie Valley | 2022StateIA (10.2). They do a great job pounding the glass on both ends of the floor, and they’ll be looking to slow this game down and use their size and physicality to wear down Denver. Easier said than done.