In yesterday's Clinton Herald (Feb. 28), assistant sports editor Nate Head took a magnifying glass to the three teams on Prince of Peace's side of the Class 1A state tournament, which tips off Monday in Des Moines.
Prince of Peace's first opponent, St. Mary's Remsen was noted for a lack of senior leadership, No. 2 Sioux Central's fourth-year stars were applauded and a refresher course was given on No. 7 Alburnett, who the Irish defeated in the first game of the regular season.
The remaining four teams are a group comprised of two one-loss teams, a 19-win team and a squad that will enter Wells Fargo Arena with a record below .500.
No. 1 Grand View Christian
The top-seed in the 1A field was awarded to the defending state champion Thunder, who will welcome a home-court advantage of sorts, as the institution is in Des Moines. Grand View Christian made a name for themselves this season by averaging a whopping 77.2 points a game, which trumps all of the other seven teams.
Grand View Christian's only blemish on its record this season is a 64-54 loss to Class 4A Iowa City West, which boasts Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery's son, Patrick, who will join the Hawkeyes next season.
The Thunder are tall. Like, really tall. The team's leading scorer Arturo Montes (16.2 points) is 6-foot-4 while Harouna Sissoko (15.5) and Issa Samake (15) round out the team's top-three at 6-foot-7.
Grand View Christian will play No. 8 St. Albert, Council Bluffs at 9:30 a.m. Monday.
No. 8 St. Albert, Council Bluffs
On the surface, this one is a head-scratcher. But a deeper dive into St. Albert's 2018-19 season shows that the Falcons are a member of the Hawkeye Ten Conference, of which St. Albert is the lone 1A team amongst several modest programs at the 3A and even 4A level.
Plus, St. Albert is known for clinching a state spot with an underwhelming record. Last season, the Falcons made it to Des Moines with a 15-9 record before losing to its first-round opponent this season, Grand View Christian.
The Falcons are led in scoring by senior Jared Gast (13 points) and sophomore Sam Rallis (10).
No. 8 St. Albert, Council Bluffs will play No. 1 Grand View Christian at 9:30 a.m. Monday.
No. 4 Montezuma
Montezuma is one of just three public schools (Alburnett and Sioux Central) in the Class 1A bracket and carries a 21-1 record into Des Moines Monday morning.
Like Grand View Christian, Montezuma's lone loss of the season is a candidate to receive the benefit of the doubt, as former 1A powerhouse North Linn (now 2A) knocked off the Braves by 47 points on Feb. 9.
Trey Shearer, a sophomore, does the bulk of the scoring for Montezuma, primarily from the 3-point line. Shearer has made 63 of his 158 (39.9 percent) of his long-distance attempts and averages a sizzling 23 points a game this season.
Shearer is flanked by a pair of seniors, Hunter Ray and Nolan Reynolds, who are no strangers to scoring themselves. Ray, who stands 6-foot-5, averages 15 points a game and is a nuisance on defense and rebounding situations. Reynolds averages 6.8 points.
No. 4 Montezuma will take on No. 5 Bishop Garrigan at 11:15 a.m. Monday.
No. 5 Bishop Garrigan, Algona
Bishop Garrigan's state tournament aspirations were legitimately never in doubt in the postseason, as it won each of its four win-or-go-home games by an average of 27 points.
Bishop Garrigan primarily relies on a pair of 16-point scorers in senior TJ Schnurr and sophomore Angelo Winkel. Schnurr can shoot the 3-pointer but prefers to slash to the rim for the majority of his points. Winkel, on the other hand, steals the show as the tallest player of all eight qualifying teams with his 6-foot-9 frame.
And, apparently, he knows how to use it. Winkel averages 16.5 points this season and shoots at a 60 percent clip while trailing just Schnurr for the team-lead in rebounds and is first in blocks with 62.
No. 5 Bishop Garrigan will take on No. 4 Montezuma at 11:15 a.m. Monday.