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Boys’ basketball notebook: Alburnett a threat, even in a bigger class
Pirates are 10-1 and ranked seventh in Class 2A
CEDAR RAPIDS — There was potentially Aplington-Parkersburg, Monticello, Dyersville Beckman, MFL MarMac and others on one hand.
And North Linn, Dunkerton, Bellevue and Bellevue Marquette on the other.
Either way, Alburnett’s boys’ basketball team was going to have it difficult when it came to the postseason.
“I don’t know, there are really good teams in both classes around here,” Pirates Coach Jeff Christopherson.
He’s got one of them. Alburnett goes into weekend games against Edgewood-Colesburg (Friday) and Cascade (Saturday) with a 10-1 record and a No. 7 ranking in 2A.
The Pirates have been bumped up this season, one of the smallest 2A schools in the state.
“I think we can compete. Going to depend on who we get (paired) with,” Christopherson said. “Really a good group. Close. A multi-dimensional team.”
Those dimensions include athleticism, height and defensive ability.
Christopherson is in his 29th season as head coach at the school. He led Alburnett to the state tournament for the first time in 2019, the Pirates getting to the 1A state championship game.
“I’m happy with where we’re at,” he said. “The young kids have really bought into what we want to do defensively. And I tell you what, we told them the other day that it’s beautiful to watch how they share the basketball with one another on the offensive end. We’ve got probably seven guys that can come in there and get 20 points on a particular night.”
Alburnett graduated its leading scorer from last season, Andrew Ossman being the only Pirate who averaged double figures in points. But Christopherson said still he had an inkling this team would be successful.
Junior Braydon Osborn has stepped into the lead scorer’s role expertly, averaging 18.7 points and a team-best 7.7 rebounds per game. Junior guard Jordan Caton is next at 14.5 points.
Six-foot-8 senior Tytan Bowers has improved immensely and become an interior force. A rim protector, he averages over two blocked shots a game, as well as averaging 12.2 points and shooting 71.2 percent from the field.
Alburnett goes eight deep in its rotation, with significant contributions coming from Mason, Adam and Matthew Neighbor, Grayson Carolan and Payton Baker.
“I knew we had Braydon Osborn coming back, we knew Jordan Caton was going to be a really good ballplayer for us,” Christopherson said. “The one that really has been a big surprise, we didn’t know we were going to get as much out of him as we are, is Tytan Bowers. He’s got something we can’t coach in size at 6-8.
“I told Tytan the other day that he’s going to be an even better ballplayer in a couple of years because he’s going to know what his body can do. He has come so far from last year, in learning how to play defense, learning the concepts of where he needs to be in relationship to the ball, the basket and his man. He has really done a nice job for us.”
Alburnett’s only loss was by two points to 1A second-ranked North Linn. It had an eye-opening 19-point win recently over Beckman.
A return game against North Linn is next week. Alburnett plays another good 2A team in Wilton in early February.
Around The Hoop
– The annual Wells Fargo Advisors Shootout is Saturday at Coe College’s Kohawk Arena. There are seven games, with Durant at Mediapolis kicking things off at 10:30 a.m. and Iowa City Liberty and Fairfield closing things out with their game at approximately 7:30 p.m.
In between, Central City and Dunkerton play at noon, Bellevue Marquette and Don Bosco at 1:30 p.m., Cascade and Alburnett at 3, Linn-Mar and Cedar Rapids Prairie at 4:30, and Pleasant Valley and Ames at 6.
Tickets are available at the door.
– The top-ranked teams in Class 3A and 4A both lost Tuesday night.
Cedar Rapids Xavier fell at unranked Dubuque Wahlert, 57-52. That was the first defeat of the season for the Saints, who had gotten off to a school-best 9-0 start.
4A No. 1 Waukee Northwest also fell from the unbeaten ranks, losing at sixth-ranked West Des Moines Valley, 75-64. The Wolves are 10-1.
What this means is a possibility for Cedar Rapids Kennedy to assume the top spot next week in 4A. It also means the possibility two undefeated, ranked teams could meet Tuesday night in Dubuque, since Kennedy (9-0) is scheduled to play eighth-ranked Dubuque Senior (10-0).
Of course, Kennedy and Senior would have to win their games Friday night first. Kennedy hosts Wahlert, while Senior is at Cedar Rapids Washington.
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