116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
FAYETTE — An accomplished high school athlete himself when he graduated from Wapsie Valley in 2003, Brooks McKowen continues to see success assembling small-town talent during his ninth season as head coach of the Upper Iowa men’s basketball program.
A six-game winning streak helped the Peacocks join the NABC Division II Coaches Poll for the first time in school history last week at No. 13, but they fell, 73-68, at Winona State (Minn.) on Sunday and now are ranked No. 19.
Upper Iowa (12-2, 6-2) travels to to face Minnesota-Crookston (4-10, 1-7) in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference matchup scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday.
Leading the Peacocks are recent area prep standouts Jake Hilmer (North Linn) and Nick Reid (Central City).
While Hilmer went straight to Upper Iowa, Reid took a longer route before joining the Peacocks starting lineup for 12 of their 14 games this season.
A 2020 graduate of Central City, Reid became the high school’s all-time leader in several statistical categories, including points and rebounds, before committing to Emporia State in Kansas.
“I liked the coach down there, but the situation ended up different than I expected,” said Reid, who left for college the day after the derecho. “I moved to Kansas and had to leave behind my family and friends with no power.”
Reid entered the transfer portal just after his 19th birthday last March and knew pretty quickly Fayette would be his new home.
“I didn’t want to go to a (junior college) and then transfer again,” Reid said.
Having already taken courses through Kirkwood in high school and after a year at Emporia State, Reid is a second-semester sophomore academically but a freshman athletically.
“I’m here for three more years and I want to start, if not finish, my master’s in sports administration,” Reid said. “I’d like to work for a sports team or be a college coach and start as a (graduate assistant) somewhere.”
Raised in a town with 1,280 residents, Reid is interested in trying out a big city once he finishes his college career. But he appreciates what a small town can provide.
“Maybe work in Minneapolis or Chicago. Do all those things that big city people do since I’ve never really had that experience,” Reid said. “It’s kind of tough to explain the gratitude of how much I appreciate (Central City) for supporting (me) and sticking with me through all of this. I try to start with thank you.”
While Reid also set the school’s single-game record at Central City with 76 points in a victory during his junior year, he enjoys being just another talented teammate on the Upper Iowa roster.
“It’s kind of fun to not have to go out there and rely on having to score,” Reid said. “I want to help out anywhere I can and honestly just win. I had all the individual accolades you could want at Central City, but now I’m on a team that is competing for championships and I want to help this team get to where I think it should be. If I have a good game, it’s shutting down the guy I’m guarding and grabbing both offensive and defensive rebounds.”
Joe Smoldt (Gladbrook-Reinbeck) and Jareese Williams (Mason City) lead the Peacocks with 18 points per game each and Hilmer adds nearly 15 each contest, allowing Reid to round out the lineup of scorers with 5.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game to go with a team-high 14 blocks.
Back to work
After facing Minnesota-Crookston on Friday, the Upper Iowa men will face Bemidji State (Minn.) on the road Saturday at 3:30 p.m. before returning home for six days off.
The UIU women’s team (2-11) will host Waldorf Tuesday at Dorman Memorial Gymnasium at 5:30 p.m.
The Kirkwood women’s team (14-1) will host Iowa Central at Johnson Hall on Saturday at 1 p.m. with the Eagle men (10-6) following at 3 p.m.
The Coe women (4-10) travel to Storm Lake on Saturday to take on Buena Vista at 2 p.m. with the men’s team (11-3) tipping off at 4 p.m.
The Cornell men (9-4) travel to Lake Forest (Ill.) for a 3 p.m. matchup on Saturday with the Cornell women (8-3) helping host a doubleheader with Knox College on Wednesday that is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
The Mount Mercy teams head south to face Park (Mo.) on Saturday with the women (6-11) tipping off at noon and the men (10-6) following at 2 p.m.
Luther had both its men’s (4-9) and women’s (5-7) home contests scheduled for Saturday against Simpson canceled, although both teams hope to return to American Rivers Conference action Jan. 15 at Central.