They got a small taste of Iowa’s grand postseason stage in 2016, bowing out after one game in the program’s first state tournament appearance. But the early exit provided all the necessary fuel.
This season, Grand View Christian was on a mission.
“They set the bar a little higher this year,” Thunder coach Dave Stubbs said. “They wanted to win state.”
Night after night, Grand View Christian racked up the points and the wins in convincing fashion, eventually capturing the school’s first boys basketball title with a 61-50 win over Gladbrook-Reinbeck on March 10 for the Class 1A title.
The Thunder (27-1) won their final 27 games and boasted arguably Iowa’s most prolific offense, which produced a state-best 84.8 points per game and eclipsed triple digits six times. The defense was forceful as well — Grand View Christian yielded fewer than 40 points per game and held six foes under 30.
Stubbs has been named the Des Moines Register’s All-Iowa boys basketball coach of the year. He will be honored at the Des Moines Register Sports Awards on June 24.
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“The biggest thing,” Stubbs said, “is these kids just played together as a team, played very unselfishly.”
Despite the preseason buzz, Grand View Christian began with a stumble. In facing eventual 3A state tournament qualifier Pella to open the year, the Thunder fell 71-50 after being outscored by 21 points in the second quarter. Stubbs knew it’d be a hefty challenge, but the uptick in competition provided a nice early-season gauge.
“It was a good wake-up call for us,” Stubbs said, “just to see that we were going to have to work a lot harder to get to where we wanted to be.
“But we used it as a stepping stone to say, ‘Hey, this is what we need to work on. This is what we need to do, and we’re going to have to work that much harder.’”
From there, Grand View Christian faced little pushback. With a versatile offensive attack that featured four double-figure scorers — junior Grant DeMeulenaere (19.2), senior Stephen Glenn (15.6) and sophomores Arturo Montes (12.0) and Mach Nyaw (12.0) — the Thunder won 25 of their next 27 games by double digits — some by extreme margins.
When it came time to make the seven-mile trek south to Wells Fargo Arena, Stubbs knew he team was more than equipped to finish on top.
After fighting through upset-minded St. Mary’s (Remsen) in the semis, Grand View Christian bounded out to a 19-2 lead in the championship game before prevailing over the Rebels.
The final buzzer sounded. The ultimate bar had been reached.
“They didn’t just play with each other,” Stubbs said, “they played for each other.”
Dargan Southard covers preps, recruiting, Iowa and UNI athletics for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.
SPORTS AWARDS INFO
The Register is inviting about 800 of Iowa’s best high school athletes to the Des Moines Register Sports Awards on June 24. Those athletes will receive a free ticket to the event, which is headlined by celebrity speaker Shaquille O’Neal.
When: June 24; Doors open at 7 p.m. Event begins at 8 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines
Ticket info: General admission tickets are currently on sale at sportsawards.desmoinesregister.com. They are $35, plus processing fees. Concessions will be available at the ceremony.