116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Here is a quick look at each of the conferences involving Gazette-area boys’ basketball teams. And our predicted winner for each.
Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division
Cedar Falls lost its best player to graduation in Trey Campbell, who is now at Northern Iowa. But the Tigers bring back three returning starters, including 6-foot-8 senior Dallas Bear (14.1 points per game), who is a more of a 3-point shooter than interior player.
Dubuque Senior brings back four starters from a 12-11 team last season. Duke Faley (16.5 points, 7.3 rebounds per game) returns for what should be a good Dubuque Wahlert squad.
Iowa City Liberty returns three starters, including leading scorer DaShon Fisher. Cedar Rapids Xavier has leading scorers Aidan Yamilkoski and Joe Bean back. Cedar Rapids Prairie lost several standouts from a Class 4A state tournament semifinal team. Cedar Rapids Jefferson won eight games last season and has a large number of seniors.
Predicted Winner: Cedar Falls.
Mississippi Valley Conference Valley Division
Cedar Rapids Kennedy was a 4A state tournament semifinalist last season and brings back the dynamic all-state guard court of Kenzie Reed and Colby Dolphin. Cedar Rapids Washington lost to Kennedy in a substate final and has four starters back, including leading scorer Traijan Sain.
Iowa City West faltered down the stretch last season, finished an uncharacteristic 13-9 and lost leading scorer Pete Moe to graduation, as well as second-leading scorer Savion Taylor, who left when his father, Billy, took the head coaching job at Elon University. Sophomore Jack McCaffery should have a big sophomore season.
Linn-Mar has an outstanding sophomore of its own in Davis Kern. Iowa City High has two of its three top scorers from last season in Shamar Benton and TaeVeon Stevens. Daviyon Gaston (12.0 ppg) is Western Dubuque’s top returnee.
Predicted Winner: Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
Wamac Conference East Division
It’s an 11-school conference until Grinnell makes it an even dozen next school year. The East Division will consist this season of Independence, Marion, Mount Vernon, Solon and West Delaware.
Marion qualified for the state tournament in Class 3A next season and has three starters back, including leading scorer Brayson Laube (20 ppg). Mount Vernon returns all five starters, each of whom averaged between 6.7 and 10.8 points per game. Looks likely it’ll be one of those two teams atop the division.
Predicted Winner: Marion.
Wamac Conference West Division
For this season only, the West will consist of Benton Community, Clear Creek Amana, Center Point-Urbana, South Tama, Vinton-Shellsburg and Williamsburg.
The overwhelming favorite here is Williamsburg, which swept through the entire league last season and has three starters and seven regulars back. That group includes junior forward Derek Weisskopf (15.3, 6.6), last year’s West Division Player of the Year.
Predicted Winner: Williamsburg.
River Valley Conference North Division
Add Maquoketa and Dyersville Beckman to the mix this season. Both come over from the Wamac Conference and join the East Division and should be factors. Beckman returns senior forward Padraig Gallagher (20.4, 8.5).
Cascade has three starters back, including Elite All-RVC pick Cole McDermott (16 ppg, 8 rgp). But the overwhelming favorite here is Monticello, which has been a state tournament qualifier three years in a row and brings back three starters, including senior point guard Tate Petersen (18.9 ppg, 5.2 apg, 5.1 rpg) and junior forward Preston Ries (18.1 ppg, 7 rpg).
Predicted Winner: Monticello.
River Valley Conference South Division
The division consists of Durant, Iowa City Regina, Mid-Prairie, Tipton, West Branch, West Liberty and Wilton.
Mid-Prairie ran through the regular season unbeaten last season, losing in the Class 2A quarterfinals of the state tournament. The Golden Hawks lost a ton of talent to graduation.
West Branch has an outstanding junior lead guard in Holden Arnaman (15.7 ppg, 5.4 apg).
Wilton went 17-6 last season and returns four starters, three who scored in double digits in Caden Kirkman (20.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg), Aidan Walker (11.8 ppg), and Landyn Putman (11.5 ppg). That’ll be really difficult to beat.
Predicted Winner: Wilton.
Tri-Rivers Conference West Division
This league has been really good the last few seasons, and not just North Linn. Edgewood-Colesburg has had tremendous teams, Springville has had tremendous teams, Alburnett has had tremendous teams. Central City had one of the state’s best players recently in Nick Reid, now at Upper Iowa University. Some very good coaches in this league overall as well.
Ed-Co and Springville will be rebuilding this season with heavy and important graduation losses. Alburnett went 17-7 last season and has some good pieces coming back. East Buchanan, Maquoketa Valley and Central City each have four returning starters. But this is still North Linn’s league.
The Lynx, last year’s Class 1A state champ, return two-time all-stater Tate Haughenbury and senior starting guard Ben Wheatley. Mason Bechen and Ty Pflughaupt were bench players last season but will make immediate impacts.
Predicted Winner: North Linn.
Tri-Rivers Conference East Division
The weaker of the two divisions will be minus one team, as Cedar Valley Christian has dropped out of the conference.
Lisbon had a really good team last season (17-6), but lost a ton to graduation. Look out for guard Michael Gadberry (9.3 ppg, 3.7 apg), who will be a good starting point for new head coach Levi Montague.
Easton Valley was the other dominant team in the division a season ago, and it, too, had heavy graduation losses.
Predicted Winner: Clinton Prince of Peace.
South Iowa Cedar League East Division
Iowa Valley was a great story last season: a school record for victories and a conference championship for the first time since 1966. The top two scorers from that team graduated, but the Tigers do have three starters back, including 6-foot-7 sophomore Caleb Haack (11.3 ppg, 7 rpg, 2 blocks per game).
Keota is a perennially strong team and has four starters back from an 11-12 team last season. That includes three guys who score in double figures, including Coach Dan Stout’s son, Sawyer (13.9 ppg).
Predicted Winner: Keota.
South Iowa Cedar League West Division
North Mahaska advanced to the Class 1A state tournament last season, finished 20-6 and returns its top four scorers, including double-digit guys Nash Smith (19.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and Lane Harmon (13.8 ppg).
Lynnville-Sully has four double-digit scorers back in the fold from an 18-7 club. It’s gotta be one of those teams.
Predicted Winner: Lynnville-Sully.
Northeast Iowa Conference
It has been a great run for Decorah, which made it to the state tournament last season for the first time in 45 years. Unfortunately only one starter comes back, and he (point guard Treyton McClain) might not come back, suffering a torn ACL in May. Don’t underestimate the momentum this recent run can provide, however.
That being said, it appears to be either Waverly-Shell Rock or Charles City atop the league this season. Charles City’s Chase Low (16.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg) is the leading returning scorer in the NEIC.
Predicted Winner: Waverly-Shell Rock.
Upper Iowa Conference
Eric Dettbarn has created a consistently good program at MFL MarMac, one that competes annually for the UIC title. The Bulldogs certainly are the favorites this season, with three of their top four scorers back in the fold. That group is led by sophomore Zach Driscoll (18.1 ppg) and junior Wyatt Powell (11.6 ppg).
League coaches also mentioned Turkey Valley, North Fayette Valley, South Winneshiek and Clayton Ridge as possible contenders here, or at least teams with good capabilities.
Predicted Winner: MFLMar-Mac.
Jesup went 19-6 last season and returns junior guard Jack Miller (14.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.4 apg). Washington (Iowa) finished 19-4 last season and returns its leading scorer in Ethan Patterson (16.1 ppg).
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