The weather can be a pain sometimes. On Tuesday, icy conditions postponed more than 40 high school basketball games across the state.
On the flip side, there were more than 100 teams in action on Monday and Tuesday, and plenty more will tip off this weekend.
As such, we do our best to keep an eye on everything — and will continue to do so, now that we’re more than a month into the boys’ season. Here, we offer a few midweek thoughts that recap the early-week action and look ahead to the weekend.
1. Depth serving Valley well
Valley beat Dowling Catholic 63-55 on Tuesday night, and what stuck out more than anything was the balance the Tigers displayed on the offensive end.
Four players scored in double figures, and the highest total came from senior Reese Skinner – just 12 points. What’s more, 23 of Valley’s points came from the bench. (Conversely, Dowling had just three points from its bench.)
This has long been a trend for Valley. Entering Tuesday night, the Tigers had just one player averaging more than 10 points per game – Skinner, at 10.5 per game. Additionally, they had two average exactly 9.8 (Austin Hinkle and Charley Crowley) and three average six or more.
“We have nine guys, and if we had to, we could probably even go 10,” coach BJ Windhorst said. “Pretty even across the board. It is big. A lot of our guys are real capable shooters, too.
“We’ve had a lot of good effort from a lot of guys. Our goal now is to just be more consistent.”
If Windhorst still considers Valley on the up, watch out. The Tigers are already 8-3 with five wins in their last six games. They host Ankeny on Friday.
2. Keep an eye on Sioux City East
As we head into the weekend, just one team remains without a loss in Class 4A – Sioux City East, at 9-0.
The Raiders were one of two at the start of the week, but knocked off Council Bluffs Lincoln on Tuesday 65-60. Even more impressive is the fact that they snapped Lincoln’s 33-game home winning streak.
“I just told the kids how lucky they were playing in an environment like this against a very good team, a team that’s kind of had our number the last two years,” East Coach Ras Vanderloo told western Iowa reporters afterward.
“Everyone knows they’re good but we came down here and withstood the punches they threw and the runs they made and got a win.”
This was another message sent to the rest of Class 4A that Sioux City East is legit. Before Tuesday night’s game even tipped off, four Raider players were scoring in double figures, led by junior Van Rees, who is averaging more than 20 points per game.
The Raiders, ranked third in the latest 4A AP Poll (they even received a first-place vote), first made noise after they housed previously unbeaten Lewis Central earlier this month. This team looks more than capable of reaching the state tournament for the first time since 2011.
But if anybody on Iowa’s west side wants to watch good basketball, they would be wise to check out 5011 Mayhew Avenue in Sioux City. The Raiders host Sioux City North on Friday.
3. Iowa City West playing like 4A’s best
Motivation comes in many forms, and in the case of Iowa City West, it looks like a loss in December.
The Trojans lost to Cedar Rapids Prairie, 80-71, five days before Christmas. Apparently it’s provided sufficient fuel for an Iowa City West team with state-title aspirations – in the three games since, the Trojans have pounded the opposition by an average of 29.3 points per game.
Part of that is the level of competition. Iowa City West, ranked No. 1 in the latest 4A AP Poll, has beaten Cedar Rapids Washington, Dubuque Wahlert and Linn-Mar since its loss. Those three teams are a combined 7-20 entering the weekend.
But that doesn’t mean the loss hasn’t driven the Trojans during this stretch.
“That loss was motivating. We were motivated,” senior Connor McCaffery said after Tuesday’s game. “I think that’s helped us. It kind of showed our young guys that we’re not invincible. It gave us all motivation to really improve.”
So far, so good. The Trojans get their rematch with Cedar Rapids Prairie next Friday at home. The rest of the 4A AP Poll is as follows: 2. Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 3. Sioux City East, 4. Council Bluffs Lincoln, 5. Dubuque Senior, 6. Cedar Falls, 7. Waukee, 8. Valley, 9. Bettendorf and 10. Lewis Central.
4. Tuesday’s sharpshooters
We appreciate good offenses here, so let’s take a moment to recognize some stellar 3-point shooting performances from earlier this week.
Lawton-Bronson senior AJ Lefler hit 5-of-8 from three-point land on Tuesday, part of a 19-point showing in a 68-64 win over Kingsley-Pierson.
Camanche’s Dakota Soenksen nailed nine 3-pointers and scored 35 points in an 88-65 win over Prince of Peace Prep on Monday. Soenksen has made 50 3-pointers, the most in Iowa so far this season.
Sioux City Heelan’s Elijah Hazekamp went 5-of-8 from three en route to 21 points and 15 boards in a 69-33 win over South Sioux City on Monday.
Devontae Lane of Iowa City West went 6-of-7 from behind the arc in Tuesday’s 80-59 win over Linn-Mar, part of an efficient 8-of-10, 23-point performance for the senior. Prior to Tuesday, Lane was just 3-of-16 from three for the season.
5. Let’s talk about Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Max Techau
Techau, a senior, has been on a tear recently. In his last four games, he’s scored 57 points – or 14.3 per game – on 25-of-39 shooting with 44 boards. That’s good for a double-double each time out. He’s also blocked eight shots.
For the season, Techau is posting 12.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game (he’s also corralled 31 boards on the offensive glass). He’s mostly flown under the radar because Xavier’s struggled a bit this year, at 2-6 overall. But Techau has been the definition of a stat-stuffer, and it’s been impressive.
6. Six good stat lines
Trent Lasek, a senior at Highland (Riverside), put up 17 points on a 7-of-14 shooting and dished out 10 assists in a 72-46 win over Columbus Junction.
Pella Christian’s Levi Jungling nearly filled his box score to the brim on Tuesday. The senior scored 14 and added 6 boards, 8 assists and 6 steals in a 58-43 win over previously unbeaten Dallas Center-Grimes.
Underwood’s Isaiah Humphrey also stuffed stats in a 74-63 win over Logan-Magnolia on Tuesday. The senior scored 29 points while hauling in 8 boards, dishing out 5 assists and recording 5 steals.
Count Shane Simmons as another collector of stats. The Murray senior scored 25 points with 8 boards – including seven offensive – and six steals in a 68-31 win over Seymour on Tuesday.
Pleasant Valley’s Brian Dayman recorded a double-double in a 60-32 win over Burlington. The junior scored 14 on 6-of-10 shooting and grabbed 11 boards. He’s nearly averaging a double-double for the season, at 15.1 points and 9.9 boards a game.
Webster City’s Jordan Tanner scored 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting and corralled 9 rebounds in a 52-36 win over Clarion-Goldfield-Dows on Monday.
7. Hoover Huskies, OT Kings
Is there any team that’s more battle-tested than Des Moines Hoover? The Huskies are fresh off a 43-39 win over Ames wherein they went four overtimes with the Little Cyclones. It was Hoover’s third overtime game this season.
Just last week, the Huskies went three overtimes with crosstown rival North, a game they also won, 57-52. And that was just four games after Hoover and the Polar Bears needed one extra period to decide the first matchup – which North won, 65-61.
For those keeping count, that’s eight extra periods played in nine games this season. Hoover, at 7-3 and on top of the Metro Conference, plays at Ottumwa on Friday.
8. CIML games to watch this weekend
Johnston (7-3) at Fort Dodge (6-2). Two of the best teams in the league square off for the first time this season. Winner gains ground in the competitive Iowa Conference.
Waukee (8-2) at Ankeny Centennial (6-4). Both the Warriors and Jaguars boast some talented players. Should be an excellent Central Conference battle.
Saturday: Fort Dodge (6-2) at Dowling Catholic (6-3). Just a day after playing Johnston, the Dodgers turn around and get the other top team in the Iowa Conference. This is makeup from a game that was postponed earlier this year.
9. Other good matchups
Dallas Center-Grimes (9-1) at Pella (8-1). DCG lost its first game of the season on Tuesday, and its first chance at redemption will be on the road against a tough Pella team.
South Hamilton (9-0) at Gilbert (6-3). A good small-school matchup in central Iowa features the top two teams in the Heart of Iowa Conference. Led by Collin Hill, South Hamilton seeks to push its winning streak to 10 games this Friday at Gilbert.
Cedar Falls (7-2) at Dubuque Senior (7-1). The sixth-ranked Tigers hit the road to play the fifth-ranked Rams in a showdown that should have the eyes of many basketball enthusiasts.
10. Parting shot
Pella Christian should be considered one of the favorites in Class 2A. That’s not really a stretch, considering the Eagles have been to the state semifinals each of the last two years, but this year’s team has the talent and ability to go the distance.
For evidence, look no further than their 8-1 start, during which they’re averaging 65 points per game while allowing just 53.6. On Tuesday, they handily beat previously unbeaten Dallas Center-Grimes. The Mustangs’ lowest scoring output this season was 55 points – until the Eagles held them to 43.
The trick for Pella Christian now is consistent play – something every team searches for, of course. But each of the last two years, the Eagles have started hot, stumbled through some hiccups in the middle, then rode a hot stretch through the postseason. There’s still a chance for that this year, as a four-game road stretch is still on the horizon beginning next week.
But these Eagles appear primed to handle that. When the AP Polls were released on Monday, they were tied for the top spot in 2A with Western Christian of Hull, the defending state champions. Pella Christian received six first-place votes in the most-recent AP Poll to Western Christian’s five.
It shouldn’t shock anybody if that ends up as the 2A state title game. And if history is any indication – Pella Christian beat the Wolfpack two years ago in the quarterfinals – the Eagles should like their chances.
Cody Goodwin covers high school sports, college basketball recruiting and Drake athletics for the Des Moines Register. Reach him at (816) 582-0633, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org , or send him a tweet at @codygoodwin .
Waukee, 8-2 overall, 4-1 Central
Valley, 8-3, 3-2
Ames, 6-4, 3-2
Ankeny 6-4, 3-2
Ankeny Centennial, 6-4, 2-3
Southeast Polk, 1-8, 0-5
Fort Dodge, 6-2 overall, 4-0 Iowa
Johnston, 7-3, 4-1
Dowling Catholic, 6-3, 3-1
Mason City, 6-3, 1-3
Urbandale, 4-6, 1-4
Marshalltown, 2-8, 0-4
Hoover, 7-3 overall, 4-1 Metro
North, 6-5, 4-1
Roosevelt, 6-4, 3-2
East, 2-7, 2-2
Lincoln, 1-9, 1-4
Ottumwa, 1-9, 0-4