Prep Basketball

Boys' basketball notes: Unbeaten North Fayette Valley sets the pace in Upper Iowa Conference

TigerHawks are an experienced team

Sometimes you look in depth at reasons for a team being successful.

It’s this kid really growing his game, it’s better shooting or rebounding. It’s an emphasis on playing better defense, it’s not turning the basketball over as much.

It’s a philosophy change.

But for North Fayette Valley and its 8-0 start, you might not have to look real in depth. This could be as simple as having seniors beats not having seniors.

“We’ve got a lot of experience,” head coach Matt Krambeer said. “We bring seven seniors back, and that’s probably the biggest thing. We’ve kind of had a little bit of a leg up here early in the year, I think. Everybody not doing much in the offseason with COVID, we didn’t, either, but having seven seniors, we brought a lot of experience back. The kids have been involved in playing since they’ve been young. They haven’t lit the world on fire, but they’ve gotten better every single year. That’s a big deal.”

South Winneshiek was the preseason favorite in the Upper Iowa Conference, but North Fayette Valley already owns a 66-61 win over the Warriors. NFV also has beaten Clayton Ridge, Postville, Turkey Valley, Elkader Central, West Central and Lansing Kee, with a non-conference victory thrown in over New Hampton.

The TigerHawks host MFL MarMac on Friday night.

“We’re not really a drive-and-kick-to-shoot-3s team,” Krambeer said. “That’s kind of the fad right now, I guess. But we’ve got really good size ... That’s kind of been another key to our success. We’re bigger than other teams, yet we’re learning how to play defense that way, too.”

North Fayette Valley’s tallest starter is 6-foot-5 forward Grant Stolka. He averages 12.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game and is a player colleges have begun to notice, Krambeer said.

NFV’s leading scorer is Kole Johnson, a 6-2, good all-around athlete who was the school’s starting quarterback this past fall. Johnson averages 20.6 points and 9.5 rebounds.


“Played the last five games of his freshman year, too,” Krambeer said. “So, once again, he’s got a lot of experience. He’s kind of a slash player. He played post when he was younger because he was about a head taller than everybody. He was 6-foot in ninth grade, he’s 6-2 now, so he’s kind of leveled off. So he has kind of had to adjust his game. He’s left-handed, a slasher, not going to be a 3-point shooter, but he’s got a knack for getting to the basket and getting to the foul line. Just a real good athlete.”

Point guard Jonah Moore also has started multiple years and recently set the school’s career assists record. Tanner Johnson and Ben Miller have been the other starters, Miller a transfer from Class 4A Southeast Polk.

The bench included 6-6 Andrew Schmitt, which goes back to Krambeer’s size comment.

This is Krambeer’s second season as full-fledged head coach, but he’s been around awhile. He was head coach at Valley Community from 2003-2013, then became an assistant for Dan Hovden when Valley and North Fayette merged.

Krambeer and Hovden were co-head coaches three years ago. Hovden now assists Krambeer.

“We have a really good relationship,” Krambeer said. “It’d be hard to do that if we didn’t. But we get along really well and see eye to eye on a lot of things.”

Around The Hoop

— The highlight game Friday night around the state will take place in Troy Mills where Class 1A top-ranked North Linn (9-0) hosts No. 4 Springville (11-0) in a battle of Tri-Rivers Conference mates that were state tournament qualifiers last season and returned most of their respective teams. On the line are some incredible North Linn streaks. The Lynx have won 101 consecutive regular-season games and 103 in a row against Tri-Rivers opponents (postseason included). Their last loss to a TRC opponent was in a 2016 1A district game to Alburnett, and their last regular-season conference loss was to Easton Valley on Dec. 12, 2015. North Linn is expected to be without junior shooting guard Dylan Kurt (15.4 ppg), who missed Tuesday night’s win over East Buchanan with a knee injury.

— North Linn, Springville and North Fayette Valley are three of seven teams from the area still unbeaten. The others are Keota (9-0) in 1A, West Branch (8-0) in 2A, Monticello (7-0) in 3A and Iowa City Liberty (3-0) in 4A.

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