The unofficial second half of the boys’ basketball season begins Saturday with some games in the area and around the state. Things really get kicked up a notch next week.
The range of games played has been pretty extreme.
Springville has gotten in nine, winning them all. Iowa City Liberty, Iowa City West, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Highland, Lone Tree and South Tama have played just twice each.
Let’s take a look at each area conference, and what we’ve seen so far.
MISSISSIPPI VALLEY MISSISSIPPI
Cedar Falls (5-0) is ranked second in Class 4A and the class of this division. Interesting note: both Western Dubuque and Cedar Rapids Washington already have equaled their respective win totals of a season ago. WD, which has dropped from Class 4A to 3A this season, is 5-1, its only loss a two-pointer to Waterloo West. Washington is 4-1, its lone loss in its opener to Cedar Rapids Kennedy. Prairie is 0-2 but those losses have been by six and one point, respectively. The Hawks could take off after the break.
MISSISSIPPI VALLEY VALLEY
Looks like there is more parity in this division. Kennedy is off to a 3-0 conference start, its losses coming out of league to Class 3A Marion and 4A No. 6 Ames. Liberty got off to a late start, not playing its first game until Dec. 18, but has a quality win over Prairie and a blowout of Cedar Rapids Jefferson. It’s an uncharacteristic rebuilding season, it appears, for Iowa City West, which is 0-2. But 6-foot-9 junior transfer Peter Moe has been awesome, averaging 32.0 points and 11.5 rebounds in the Trojans’ openers. He is the son of former University of Iowa guard Jeff Moe.
Dyersville Beckman graduated all-state forward Michael Keegan, yet the Blazers are off to a 7-0 overall start and are ranked fourth in Class 2A. Senior guard Mason White is averaging 21.4 points per game. Of the two divisions in the conference, this one appears to be the stronger. Solon, ranked 10th in 3A, also is unbeaten in league play and is 6-1 overall, one win shy of its total from last season. Mount Vernon (3-2, 3-1) has a D-I college player in senior guard Keaton Kutcher (South Dakota). Maquoketa is improved, as is West Delaware. Marion (3-5, 2-3) is last in the division right now and is a quality team with a win over 4A Kennedy.
Clear Creek Amana is coming off a season in which it finished third in 3A at the state tournament and has used that momentum to build a big division lead. The Clippers are 5-2 overall, 5-1 in the league. The next-best league record belongs to Williamsburg at 2-4 (4-4 overall).
RIVER VALLEY NORTH
Monticello is doing Monticello things, winning all six of its games thus far and by an average of 57 points per game. Yes, 57. The Panthers returned every starter from a 2A state tourney team but have moved up to 3A and are ranked seventh. Another 2020 2A state tourney club, Camanche, is next at 5-1, 5-2 overall. Anamosa is vastly improved at 4-2, matching its season win total of 2019-20.
RIVER VALLEY SOUTH
West Branch is setting the pace at 7-0 overall and in league play. Mid-Prairie is 3-1, 3-0 in the conference, its only loss coming to Williamsburg by four. Iowa City Regina (4-3) has won three in a row, a sign, perhaps, the Regals are getting their collective basketball legs after a long and successful football season.
Behind outstanding 6-5 senior forward Kaleb Cornilsen (25.8 ppg), Easton Valley appears again to the be the class of this division. The River Hawks are ranked fifth in 1A. Calamus-Wheatland and Lisbon both are 2-1 in conference play. Lisbon is 3-2 overall, with a roster of 10 sophomores and juniors and just one senior.
Jan. 8. That’s when 1A top-ranked North Linn (8-0) and fourth-ranked Springville (9-0) meet at Troy Mills. Those two clearly have been this division’s best to this point, as expected. Alburnett (5-2, 2-1) also is a fine 1A team from Linn County. Edgewood-Colesburg (5-3, 1-2) is a fourth really good club in this division, with close losses to North Linn and Easton Valley and a 23-point loss to Springville.
After a couple of unusually average seasons, Waverly-Shell Rock appears to be the team to beat again in the NEIC. The Go-Hawks are 6-0 overall, 4-0 in the conference and ranked sixth in Class 3A. Oelwein is a nice story, off to a 4-3 start after going 2-20 last season. After W-SR, the rest of this league has pretty much taken turns beating each other so far.
SOUTH IOWA CEDAR EAST
It’s not supposed to work this way. Keota graduated J.D. Stout, an all-state guard and prolific scorer, yet has regrouped to the the tune of an 8-0 overall record and 6-0 league start. English Valleys is 6-1, 5-1 and a great sport. The Bears have a 46-game losing streak in their recent past and haven’t had a winning record in 20 years. Iowa Valley is 6-2, 5-2, a major turnaround from last season’s 4-17 overall record.
SOUTH IOWA CEDAR WEST
On the surface, Montezuma might seem vulnerable because it has two losses, including one in conference play to North Mahaska. But consider the Braves have been without a significant piece in junior forward Eddie Burgess, who hasn’t played, yet, because of injury. He’s supposed to return soon. In the meantime, give NM kudos for its 68-66, season-opening win over over Monte, as well as that 6-0 conference record. The rest of the division has a combined 6-24 record.
North Fayette Valley is 7-0 overall and 6-0 in the UIC, picking up wins over South Winneshiek, Turkey Valley and Lansing Kee, who are second through fourth in the league in the early going. Experience says never to discount MFL MarMac under longtime successful head coach Eric Dettbarn. The Bulldogs are quietly sitting there at 3-3 overall, 3-2 in the conference.
Washington (Iowa) is 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the Southeast Conference. Meskwaki has identical overall and conference marks as fellow Iowa Star South leader Garwin GMG. Jesup’s 5-3 overall record is a bit misleading in that those three losses have all come to ranked opponents, including a tough one-pointer to 2A No. 7 Aplington-Parkersburg.
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