The biggest threat: Waukon played against Beckman a few weeks ago and had a 31-24 halftime lead before being outscored by 12 in the second half in a 70-65 loss. The Indians are led
The favorite: Had Mason WhiteMasonWhite6'0" | SGBeckman Catholic | 2021StateIA been healthy, Beckman Catholic would’ve been a heavy favorite in this district. The Blazers are still the team to beat, but it’ll be a more competitive district than it would have been if he were on the floor. The Blazers play in the 3A WaMaC, which gives them a major strength of schedule edge against the rest of the teams here, and it has helped prepare them for postseason play. Sophomore wing Padraig GallagherPadraigGallagher6'4" | SFBeckman Catholic | 2023StateIA (12.7), a versatile scorer who can have some huge games (evidenced by his 30-point outburst against Waukon), has really stepped up his play since the White injury. Senior big man Jack GehlingJackGehling6'4" | PFBeckman Catholic | 2021StateIA (10.4) is an efficient scorer who can stretch the floor, and junior lead guard Logan Goedken (8.8) is a solid lead guard who can shoot and distribute.
The biggest threat: Waukon played against Beckman a few weeks ago and had a 31-24 halftime lead before being outscored by 12 in the second half in a 70-65 loss. The Indians are led by do-it-all guard Creed WelchCreedWelch6'4" | SFWaukon | 2021StateIA (13.6, 6.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists), who dominates games even when he isn’t scoring. Junior forward Braden Hemann (15.1) leads the team in scoring and can stretch the floor, while Ethan O’Neill (12.5) gives them another solid scoring threat. This group knows that they can play with Beckman and they won’t be intimidated by the bigger competition that the Blazers play throughout the year.
The dark horse: North Fayette Valley is 17-3 at the time of this writing, but they get dinged a bit because they’ve played a lot of 1A competition. The TigerHawks are led by senior Kole JohnsonKoleJohnson6'2" | PFNorth Fayette Valley | 2021StateIA (17.7, 8.0 rebounds), an efficient forward who can do a little bit of everything. They crash the offensive glass (10.1 a game) and do a good job protecting the ball. This group knows how to win games, and despite playing lesser competition than some of the other teams in the district, they’re a formidable team that can’t be overlooked.
Players to watch
2023 Padraig GallagherPadraigGallagher6'4" | SFBeckman Catholic | 2023StateIA, Beckman Catholic
2021 Jack GehlingJackGehling6'4" | PFBeckman Catholic | 2021StateIA, Beckman Catholic
2021 Creed WelchCreedWelch6'4" | SFWaukon | 2021StateIA, Waukon
2022 Braden Hemann, Waukon
2021 Kole JohnsonKoleJohnson6'2" | PFNorth Fayette Valley | 2021StateIA, North Fayette Valley
2021 Jacob KingJacobKing5'10" | SGOelwein | 2021StateIA, Oelwein
2022 Carson Lienau, Jesup
2021 Brodie KresserBrodieKresser6'0" | SGJesup | 2021StateIA, Jesup
The favorite: Behind the third-ranked scoring defense in 2A, West Branch has rolled to a 16-1 record at the time of this writing. The Bears had a nearly three-week layoff due to Covid protocols in January, but they’re back and playing strong ball. They’re led by the senior forward tandem of Simon PalmerSimonPalmer6'5" | PFWest Branch | 2021StateIA (13.6, 7.0 rebounds) and Jeff BowieJeffBowie6'5" | PFWest Branch | 2021StateIA (13.2, 6.1 rebounds), who are extremely efficient and help this group exert their physicality on other teams. Gavin Hierseman (9.3, 42.4 3P%) gives them some shooting, and Thomas Gould (9.9) and Holden Arnaman (5.9, 3.2 assists) have been solid in the backcourt. They protect the ball well and have a pair of players who can control the glass on both ends of the floor.
The biggest threat: Another strong defensive team headlines the bottom of the bracket in Northeast, Goose Lake. The Rebels are second in scoring defense in 2A, allowing just 43 points a game. A tough, physical team, they look to slow games down and grind out wins, and a meeting with West Branch would be a great, physical game. They’re led by senior Judd SwantonJuddSwanton6'3" | PFNortheast | 2021StateIA (13.1, 9.3 rebounds), an efficient forward, while Cade Hughes (11.6) is a capable perimeter scorer. This team doesn’t have much scoring, but their physicality and defense is tough to play against.
The dark horse: Anamosa is playing their best ball of the season heading into the postseason. The Blue Raiders have won six of their last seven games, with the lone loss coming to undefeated Monticello. They’re led by versatile junior forward Sam WiltSamWilt6'2" | SFAnamosa | 2022StateIA (12.2, 7.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.2 blocks), a do-it-all player who can dominate games without scoring. Senior guard Trae Klatt (8.8) and Andrew Morris (8.5) have given them some solid production as well, and this group can force turnovers. Anamosa is playing confidently, and they have a really good player in Wilt who can carry them.
Players to watch
2021 Simon PalmerSimonPalmer6'5" | PFWest Branch | 2021StateIA, West Branch
2021 Jeff BowieJeffBowie6'5" | PFWest Branch | 2021StateIA, West Branch
2021 Judd SwantonJuddSwanton6'3" | PFNortheast | 2021StateIA, Northeast
2022 Sam WiltSamWilt6'2" | SFAnamosa | 2022StateIA, Anamosa
2022 Colby Sieverding, Bellevue
SUBSTATE FINAL PREDICTION
Beckman Catholic vs. West Branch
If this game does materialize, expect it to be one of the lower-scoring substate finals. West Branch will look to use their physicality to control this one, but Beckman Catholic has played a significantly more difficult schedule. In a tight, low-scoring game, we're giving the edge to the team that has played tougher competition and sending the Blazers to Des Moines for the first time since 2007.