Wrestling has taken over Wells Fargo Arena and Des Moines hotels and even DesMoinesRegister.com, but it can’t take this blog!
This is a safe basketball space.
Still, the usual CIML preview just doesn’t hold up when there are only six games left and the rest of the state is in playoff mode. So we’ll go over the last round of regular season games before diving into some of the postseason scores, stats and trends from across the state. For more on important dates, upsets, and the best Bears this side of the “Super Bowl Shuffle,” read on through.
Friday’s CIML Games
JOHNSTON (8-12) at EAST (4-16)
East was flattened on Tuesday by Ankeny, but how much does it matter? The Scarlets won one game in the past two seasons, and have three wins this February. Johnston will be attempting to fend off a four game losing streak heading into the postseason, all on the road. The Dragon offense will need to improve on the 32 points and 25-percent shooting it had at Southeast Polk last Saturday.
SOUTHEAST POLK (9-11) at FORT DODGE (7-13)
The Rams won the first meeting on Feb. 4 at home, 61-52. Four different players scored in double-figures and they hit 10 3-pointers, an ideal performance for coach Gary Belger’s club. Fort Dodge is trying to find its own great game to carry into substate, having lost three out of four. Seven of the Dodgers’ top eight scorers are juniors, led by J.C. Hatcher’s 14.1 points per.
DOWLING (15-5) at HOOVER (17-2)
The Maroons picked up possibly their best win of the season last Friday over Urbandale. This would be a hefty feather in the cap, but Peter Odia likely won’t replicate his 14 point, 11 rebounds and 5 assist performance from last week. The Huskies are streaking and managed to succeed all season despite very limited depth and size. This is just another test.
MASON CITY (3-17) at LINCOLN (7-13)
Snapping that 17-game losing streak has freed Mason City to just focus on the next win, but it might not come easy after a long drive south. The Mohawks got out and ran to beat Clear Lake on Tuesday, scoring 87 points in the process. Lincoln likes to do the same thing, and has scored at least 60 points in its last four games. Sabonis Smith, Josh Bolokor and Diew Deng all average between 8 and 14 points for the Rails.
VALLEY (17-3) at NORTH (12-8)
An 11-game win streak and the Central Iowa Conference and Western Division titles are all owned by Valley. And yet, they’re still gradually improving and still figuring out roles as the season progresses. Peter Jok hasn’t lead the Tigers in scoring in two of the last three games. North had to overcome some mental lapses in Marshalltown to get a win on Tuesday, but it helps when Teyontae Jenkins can toss 11 assists. Both teams could have issues guarding each other.
AMES (11-10) at ROOSEVELT (16-4)
It took double overtime for Roosevelt to get past Waukee on Tuesday. The Roughriders have won three on the trot and have matched up well with other long opponents. The Little Cyclones have a had a week off, but can it cool junior Sam Straub? He’s scored 23 points per game in his last three.
Monday, Feb. 18–First round for 4-A, 3-A
Tuesday, Feb. 19–District finals for 2-A, district semifinals for 1-A
Thursday, Feb. 21–District finals for 3-A, 1-A
Friday, Feb. 22–Second round for 4-A
Saturday, Feb. 23–Substate finals for 2-A, 1-A
Monday, Feb. 25–Substate finals for 3-A
Tuesday, Feb. 26–Substate finals for 4-A
Classes 2-A and 1-A each finished their second round of games on Thursday, and yet all 20 teams ranked by the AP poll are still in the tournament. Not a single numerical upset to be had.
Sixty-four teams are left in 1-A and 32 teams in 2-A. Part of what makes the postseason process so routinely intriguing and entertaining are the upsets and unpredictability. There’s plenty of basketball left for that to happen, but the possibility of a true small-town David making it to Wells Fargo Arena is getting slimmer with all these Goliaths.
Last season’s tournament wasn’t rocked by any losing records, but Council Bluffs St. Albert made the tournament with a 14-10 mark and having to go on a streak, and Clarinda qualified for its first ever tournament in 2-A and made it to a third-place finish.
Here’s hoping the clock doesn’t strike midnight.
Is This Finally Danville’s Year?
The southeast Iowa 1-A power is undefeated and plowing over opponents. Again. No. 1 Danville has the state’s highest scoring average (83.9) and allows the fewest points per game in Class 1-A (34.0).
The last two seasons, Danville has entered the state tournament unbeaten only to fall in the 1-A championship game. The stars of the team have two runner-up trophies.
The Soukup twins, Michael and Steven, are back to carrying the load. Michael averages a balanced 20 points, 7.4 assists and 7 rebounds per game. Steven is an offensive handful, scoring more than 25 points per, and grabbing nearly 10 rebounds.
Every district and substate in 1-A is too big to call anything a gimme, but the Bears knocked off No. 2 Lone Tree by 23 points last week. Is it Danville’s time? Let me know what you think on Twitter @CuellarChris.