Area Mississippi Valley Conference boys basketball teams open the season today. Here is a capsule look at the local teams in the league:
Coach — Curt Deutsch (11th season)
2018-19 record — 10-11
Key returners — Cameron Davis (jr., G), Michael Duax (jr., F). Jamari Smith (jr., F), Nicholas Kaesbauer (sr., G), Elijah Herrion (sr., G)
Promising newcomers — Nathan Kaesbauer (soph., G), Brock Doyle (sr., G), Kellen Strohmeyer (soph., F), Jack Sabers (sr., F)
Outlook — Do not be surprised to see this group make a huge leap from last season to this one. When last year’s campaign started, taking the floor for the first time was a trio of sophomores seeing their first varsity experience — Cameron Davis, Michael Duax and Jamari Smith. It meant some lumps early on in the year, but the Mustangs finished strong by winning four of their last five games. Duax (the youngest of five brothers who were each all-MVC players in their careers at Hempstead) has a ton of potential to make noise locally and at the state level. He’s already receiving NCAA Division I looks and is rated the No. 3 overall recruit in the class of 2021.
Coach — Wendell Eimers (18th season)
2018-19 record — 19-4 (Iowa Class 4A state runner-up)
Key returners — Cooper Medinger (sr., G), Daquon Lewis (sr., F), Jim Bonifas (jr., F)
Promising newcomers —Cain McWilliams (jr., G), Tyler Schuester (jr., F), Kendrick Watkins-Hogue (jr., G), Brock Medinger (sr., G), Max Link (jr., G)
Outlook — The Rams 2018-19 act, which resulted in the program’s first state championship appearance in more than four decades, is a tough one to follow. And many of the core pieces from that run — among them Northern Iowa recruit and two-time TH Player of the Year Noah Carter — are gone. That said, coach Wendell Eimers is excited to see what this group can do. Cooper Medinger allows Senior to maintain some of that valuable state tournament court time and is one of the best pure, pass-first point guards in the region. Daquon Lewis and Jim Bonifas bring athleticism as well as solid experience from last year. Rounding out the roster is a group of unproven players but certainly an athletic bunch. If the likes of Cain McWilliams and Kendrick Watkins-Hogue can carry their explosive playmaking on the football field over to the hardwood, look for the Rams to compete yet again.
Coach — Tom English (16th season)
2018-19 record — 10-12
Key returners — Jacob Schockemoehl (sr., G), Cael Schmitt (sr., G), Isaac Ripley (sr., G), Lucas Topping (sr., F)
Promising newcomers —Nick Bandy (jr., G)
Outlook — Hard to find a more lethal triple-threat at guard than what the Golden Eagles boast. If Jacob Schockemoehl or Cael Schmitt get hot, they’re seemingly in range every time they step past half court, while Isaac Ripley is a solid slasher who compliments them with tough buckets through traffic. However, last year, when things were cold for Wahlert, the Eagles struggled to get key defensive stops or points in the paint to keep them in games. There’s no reason to count Wahlert out this year, however, especially when postseason comes along and the Eagles drop down to 3A after playing a primarily 4A schedule. If they find a way to complement their outside sharp shooters, this can be a dangerous group.
Coach — Wayne Cusick (2nd season)
2018-19 record — 4-16
Key returners — Calvin Harris (sr., G), Payton Quagliano (sr., G), Garrett Baumhover (jr., G), Dylan Johnson (jr., F), Mike Kraft (sr., G)
Promising newcomers — Logan Southwick (jr., F), Tommy DeSollar (jr., f), Mitchell Williams (jr., F), Will Griner (jr., G), Nick Bryant (soph., G), Cason Schute (soph., G)
Outlook — Given the way things have gone from summer baseball to fall football, coach Wayne Cusick is hoping the Bobcats’ “winning attitude” carries over onto the basketball court. All signs point to improvement, if not an outright turnaround in the works for WD after a 4-16 campaign during its first season in the MVC. The Bobcats have playmakers on the outside with the likes of Peyton Quagliano, Calvin Harris and Garrett Baumhover working the perimeter and an enviable “stretch-4” in Dylan Johnson – who can stroke it from deep and crash for big-time boards on defense. As for the Bobcats’ newer pieces: lots of height and lots of athleticism. That’s a good formula for hanging tough in this league.