116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
They are a great story in many ways, but this is probably the best way.
Meswkaki Settlement School has won 20 games this boys' basketball season, losing only three times, twice to ranked opponents. All three teams that beat the Warriors (Grand View Christian, Springville and Janesville) played in Class 1A district finals earlier this week.
That's a really, really good resume. Then you need to take into consideration it has been built despite an absolute lack of size.
The tallest player on Meskwaki's roster is 6-foot-1. Every guy who plays regularly is 6-foot or shorter.
Quite amazing. Meskwaki takes on top-ranked North Linn in a 1A substate final Saturday night Jesup.
'These guys have played together since probably third grade,' said Coach Garrett Bear. 'A couple of them played a couple of years for South Tama, one came back two years ago and the other finally came back this year. So they've known each other for a long time, have just played a lot of basketball together. We have always been the shorter team, we're used to that. But we play our tempo of game, kind of speeding (things) up a little bit, pressing. We take advantage of our speed and agility.'
This is Bear's fourth season as Warriors head coach. A South Tama grad, he is no stranger to these kids, coaching them in AAU ball and elsewhere since they were in elementary school.
He was afforded the opportunity to take over the high school program and has made the most of it. His first three teams went 13-9, 13-6 and 18-5, respectively, and now there's this: Meskwaki being one win from making it to the state tournament for the very first time.
'That's the game plan. That's the goal,' Bear said. 'We're not backing down from anyone. When we get it going, we're hard to beat, too.'
Meskwaki's best player is senior guard Taurice Grant. A football signee at junior college powerhouse Iowa Western, he was his school's first all-stater last season.
He averages 17 points a game this season and leads the Warriors in rebounds and assists, despite being hindered by injuries incurred this past fall during football season.
'We have had some quality players that just haven't received the recognition they (should) have, so I want to put that out there,' Bear said. 'Taurice, it's just his versatility. His numbers are down. He has been dealing with football injuries all season long, and that has just put a damper on his numbers. But he does everything. He plays defense, he rebounds, he distributes the ball, he scores. Just very versatile in what he does. He's just an athlete.'
Junior Osceola Tyon is next in scoring at 16.6 points per game. Evan Nelson, Larnell Velaquez, Tiernan Wanatee and Bishop Chavez (one of the aforementioned transfers from South Tama) also have gotten multiple starts this season.
'Nothing but respect for North Linn,' Bear said, of the tall task (no pun intended) in front of his team. 'They have been a model of consistency. That's where we're trying to get, that's where any program is trying to get. But that's why they play the game. It's not a cakewalk for anybody. We're going to go in there, compete and try to win that game.'
Saturday's Class 2A substate finals
No. 9 West Branch (19-2) vs. Dyersville Beckman (15-7)
Time and site: 7 p.m., at Maquoketa
Overview: West Branch's front court of Jeff Bowie (12.7 points per game), Simon Palmer (11.6) and Thomas Gould (10.0) leads the team in scoring. Bowie is a University of Iowa football signee. Guard Gavin Hierseman is right behind that trio at 9.7 points per game. Freshman Holden Arnaman is the Bears' point guard and an intriguing young talent. West Branch has lost to Wilton by a point and to Class 3A second-ranked Monticello ... Beckman has been able to overcome the loss of top player Mason White to injury, winning its last five games, all by six points or less. The Blazers play in the rugged, primarily 3A Wamac Conference. Sophomore forward Padraig Gallagher leads the team in scoring (13.8 ppg), followed by senior forward Jack Gehling (10.7) ... West Branch has never been to the boys' state basketball tournament. Beckman has been there five times, the last in 2007.
Albia (19-2) vs. No. 3 Des Moines Christian (20-2) at Carlisle
No. 8 Aplington-Parkersburg (20-3) vs. Denver (19-5) at Waterloo East
Camanche (17-6) vs. West Burlington (16-6) at Muscatine
Iowa Falls-Alden (14-9) vs. South Central Calhoun (18-5) at Marshalltown
No. 2 Ida Grove OABCIG (21-1) vs. No. 1 Boyden-Hull (23-0) at Sheldon
Van Meter (16-6) vs. No. 7 Treynor (19-4) at Atlantic
No. 6 Western Christian (18-5) vs. Spirit Lake (17-5) at Sibley
Saturday's Class 1A substate finals
No. 1 North Linn (24-0) vs. Meskwaki (20-3)
Time and site: 7 p.m., at Jesup
Overview: Junior point guard Austin Hilmer leads North Linn in scoring at 18.3 points per game and a whopping 8.3 assists per game. Junior wing Dylan Kurt (13.9 ppg) missed a chunk of games midseason with knee surgery. Sophomore post Tate Haughenbury has emerged this season to the tune of 16.1 points per game and a field-goal percentage of 67.4. North Linn has won 98 consecutive non-state tournament games, finishing second in Class 2A last season, winning it all in 2A in 2019, finishing second in 1A in 2018 and third in 2017 ... Meskwaki is playing in its first substate final. The Warriors' three losses were to seventh-ranked Grand View Christian, eight-ranked Springville and Janesville, all of which played in district finals. The tallest player on Meskwaki's roster is 6-foot-1 and all of its regular players are 6-foot or shorter. Senior guard Taurice Grant was an all-stater last season (the first from the school) and averages a team-best 17.0 points per game despite being nagged all season by injuries. Junior Osceola Tyon is next at 16.6 ppg. The Warriors have won 15 straight games.
No. 7 Montezuma (21-2) vs. Mount Ayr (19-4)
Time and site: 7 p.m., at Knoxville
Overview: Montezuma survived its district final against Keota, 53-51, thanks to Trey Shearer's winning shot with six seconds left. The senior all-state guard has scored more than 2,000 points in his illustrious career, leading the Braves this season with a 26-point average. He also averages 4.8 assists per game. Senior guard Cole Watts averages 19.4 ppg and has scored more than 1,000 points his varsity career. Junior Eddie Burgess (13.7 points, 12.9 rebounds per game) is Monte's inside threat. The Braves' two losses (to North Mahaska and Williamburg) came with him out of the lineup due to injury ... Mount Ayr is on a six-game win streak. The Raiders are led by sophomore guard Jaixen Frost (22.4 ppg) ... Montezuma is seeking its third consecutive trip to the state tournament. The Braves were third in 1A last season and fourth in 2019. Mount Ayr has not been to state since 1975.
South Winneshiek (17-6) vs. Gladbrook-Reinbeck (17-3)
Time and site: 7 p.m., at Manchester
Overview: It's been quite a run for South Winn, which upset defending state champ Wapsie Valley in the district semifinals, then rallied past Edgewood-Colesburg in the district finals, 53-49, outscoring the Vikings in the fourth quarter, 16-4. Senior guard Jacob Herold leads South Winn in scoring (15.3 ppg), with junior post Trey Kriener next (13.0). The 6-foot-7 Kriener also averages 9.9 rebounds per game. The Warriors finished second behind North Fayette Valley in the Upper Iowa Conference ... Gladbrook-Reinbeck slipped past Maquoketa Valley in the district finals, 41-40. Sophomore guard William Kiburis (18.2 ppg) leads the Rebels in scoring, with senior guard Dylan Riffey next (12.4). Junior forward Tristen Sanford-Anders (10.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg) is the main interior threat ... Gladbrook-Reinbeck won the 2015 Class 1A state championship, was fourth in 2016 and second in 2017. South Winneshiek has qualified twice, in 1985 and 1987.
No. 5 Easton Valley (21-0) vs. New London (19-4) at Maquoketa
No. 7 Grand View Christian (19-1) vs. Council Bluffs St. Albert (11-12) at Greenfield
No. 2 Lake Mills (24-0) vs. West Fork (20-3) at Forest City
No. 3 Martensdale-St. Marys (23-0) vs. Tri-Center (20-3) at Creston
No. 10 Remsen St. Mary's (21-3) vs. No. 4 Le Mars Gehlen (23-1) at Le Mars
Comments: (319) 398-8259; email@example.com