GOOSELAKE — People are very aware of the big scorers on the Northeast Rebels' squad: Luke Empen and Braeden Hoyer own the lane and the glass.
"I don't think, anywhere around here, there are two big guys on the same team who rebound like they do. It's nice for us," Northeast Coach Travis Eversmeyer said about his two forwards. "The confidence it gives our team is important, knowing that if we get it inside we can score pretty easily."
The confidence is apparent for the substate-bound Rebels, who travel south to Muscatine this Saturday to take on 22-1 Wapello. Hoyer and Empen are standouts—they lead the team in rebounds with huge numbers. Empen has pulled down nearly 250, while Hoyer follows with 220.
They are also two of the leading scorers. Empen leads the team with 16 points a game, while Hoyer ranks third with almost 12. They both boast shooting percentages that hover around 60 percent.
"That's telling you that they don't take bad shots," Eversmeyer said. "And when we get it in their we're successful."
Empen and Hoyer don't get the ball in the paint by accident. They have some talented guards on the perimeter to thank for that.
"They just believe in getting the ball inside and know that it's going to make their job easier in the long run," Eversmeyer said about his wing players. "When they get the ball inside they're pretty confident in Luke's ability and I think it breathes energy through the team when we get some easy buckets inside."
The second leading scorer for the Rebels is sharp-shooter Dawson Stoll. Stoll has drained 51 from beyond the arc, shooting a solid 36 percent from 3-point range. He averages 13 points a game to compliment the play inside the paint.
"Dawson Stoll, he's obviously a good shooter for us and he looks inside for the posts," Eversmeyer said. Stoll is also second on the team in assists with 75, and has 49 steals this year. "He can take some pressure off of Luke with his ability to make the outside shot."
Leading the team in assists is Collin Swanton. Swanton boasts 125 assists this season, but also scores over eight points a game.
"He is kind of a creator for us. He has an ability to slash to the basket and dump the ball down to Luke," Eversmeyer said. "Collin is a facilitator. He embraces that role as the assist man."
Rounding out the guard game is Trey McAleer. Even though he doesn't put up big offensive numbers, he is a big part of the Rebels' defense. That's a part of their game they take pride in, especially after holding the Camanche Indians to 30 points in the district final on Tuesday.
"Trey McAleer is a great defender for us," Eversmeyer said. McAleer is a close second on the team in steals with 43 on the season. He also has 60 assists. "Sometimes, he's not the most consistent offensively but consistent on the defensive end and the kids believe in him too.
"They all feed off of each other and know what they're role is."
The defensive aspect is going to remain important as the Rebels go into substate on Saturday. The Indians only have one loss this year, sitting at No. 10 in the AP Rankings.
Wapello's Trenton Massner averages over 22 points a game, and the next three players also average in double-digits. The Indians have drained 60 more 3-point shots than the rebels, and average 13 more points a game.
"They're extremely loose and I think they're ready to go," Eversmeyer said about his team "I think they got the monkey off their back in the district final and I think they're ready to attack the moment.
"We just try to bring the next play mentality—whatever happened on the last play doesn't matter anymore. We just move on one play at a time.
The game between Northeast and Wapello will be at 7 p.m. in Muscatine, with the winner advancing to the Class 2A Iowa State Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.