Your Prep Sports
Only three days remain in the 2020-2021 boys basketball season.
The state tournament is well underway with championship games in all four classes looming just a few days away.
Before the season closes with state championship games on Friday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines we take a look back at some of the best moments in boys hoops in the Your Prep Sports area this winter.
A season unlike any other featured plenty of challenges and interruptions coming from the global pandemic.
Despite the ups and downs the season produced many fantastic performances, games, shots and moments from area teams.
Here is a look at some of the best from the last several months.
Best Individual performance: Ashton Cook against Wilton. Cook nearly outscored an 11-win Wilton squad single handedly pouring in 42 points on 9-of-19 shooting and grabbing eight rebounds while make 19 free throws in an incredible 35 trips to the line in a 62-48 Regal win.
Best Individual performance Part 2: Christian Withrow against Williamsburg. In a career filled with stellar offensive outings Withrow was at his best against the rival Raiders pouring in a career-high 36 points on 14-of-19 shooting that included a 6-of-7 effort from 3-point range.
Best Debut performance: Peter Moe against City High. Likely the best individual performance in the area this season deserves a separate category due to the circumstances. In his first game at a new school, with only a few days of practice against an arch rival in the season opener Moe scored a career-high 41 points on 13-of-20 shooting, went 4-of-6 from 3-point range and 11-of-13 at the line and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Best Team Performance: Clear Creek Amana against Williamsburg. The Clippers have had their fair share of offensive gems under Brandon Clubb but the 90-point outburst against Williamsburg was peak Clipper offensive efficiency. Clear Creek Amana shot 68 percent from the field, made 8-of-13 3-point attempts and 10-of-14 free throws, had four players score in double figures and had 27 assists on 36 field goals with just nine turnovers.
Coach of the year: Solon’s Jared Galpin. The Spartans tripled their win total in year one under Galpin who directed Solon to a 21-3 mark, a WAMAC Conference championship and a Class 3A substate final berth after going 7-15 last season.
Coach of the year part 2: Jason Kern directed West Branch to one of the best seasons in program history leading the Bears to a 19-3 record, a RVC South Division title and a 2A substate final berth. West Branch started 12-0, navigated a rugged end to the regular season in which it played 11 games in 16 days following a two-week COVID shutdown and came a few minutes from the first state tournament appearance in program history falling to Dyersville Beckman 56-52 in the substate final.
Best game: Solon against Mount Vernon. Honestly, what else would you expect between the two Highway 1 rivals than a down to the wire, overtime contest complete with big runs by both teams and late-game heroics. Mount Vernon overcame a five-point deficit in the final 34 seconds of regulation to force overtime but Solon scored the final six points of the game in a 74-70 win in Solon.
Best Game Part 2: Mid-Prairie against West Branch. Really it could be either one of the two regular season meetings between the two River Valley Conference South rivals but we will go with the first meeting, a 44-41 West Branch win on January 8 in West Branch. The Bears erased an 11-point deficit in the final six minutes closing the game on a 13-2 run over the final 4:44.
Breakthrough performer: Clear Creek Amana senior Ryan Navara. A 3.6 point per game reserve on last year’s Class 3A semifinalist Navara emerged as a main cog for the Clippers on both ends of the court this season average 11 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.
Best Clutch performance: Jeff Bowie against Dyersville Beckman. The West Branch big man was at his best in what turned out to be the final game of his prep career. Bowie scored 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting but more impressively, 10 of his game-high 22 came in the fourth quarter and overtime of the hotly contested substate final.
Biggest shot: Grayson Tyler against Davenport North. Liberty High made a number of critical shots while erasing an eight-point second half deficit in the substate semifinal win over the Wildcats. Perhaps no shot was bigger than the 3-point from Tyler with 2:10 left that gave the Lightning a four-point cushion and sparked an 8-0 Liberty High run.
Best Buzzer Beater: Thomas Gould against Mid-Prairie. It wasn’t right at the horn but Gould’s off-balance, fall away jumper in the final seconds snapped a 48-all tie and lifted West Branch to a season sweep of the Golden Hawks and an outright RVC South Division title.
Most versatile player: City High junior Jamari Newson. On both ends of the court Newson did a little bit of everything during a strong junior season and did it all well. The 6-foot-2 Newson showed the ability to score form all three levels while averaging 10.8 points to go with 2.5 assists per game. Defensively, Newson led City High in rebounding (6.8) and steals (2.5).
Unsung hero: Liberty High senior Ethan O’Donnell. A four-year varsity performer O’Donnell was one of the pillars of Liberty High hoops. The 6-foot-5 forward wasn’t flashy but was always productive putting up 10.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and a team-high 3.3 assists per game.
Hardest worker: City High senior Raph Hamilton. The City High senior center often was at a height disadvantage in the post but was rarely outworked while averaging 5.8 points and 5 rebounds per game.
Comeback player of the year: Regina senior Ashton Cook. A leg injury limited Cook to eight games last season but the 6-foot-4 senior bounced back in a big way leading Regina with 20.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game to go with 1.9 assists and 11 blocked shots.
Best Under the Radar performer: Liberty High senior Basil Aldoss. The senior guard didn’t get some of the recognition of his teammates but Aldoss was a rock solid playmaker for the Lightning during the most success season in program history averaging 8.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
Defensive player of the year: Solon senior Ben Cusick. One of the biggest reasons for Solon’s turnaround season was defense and perhaps no player was more importantly for the Spartans defensively than Cusick who led the Spartans with 21 blocked shots and 6.3 rebounds per game and ranked third with 24 steals.
Newcomer of the year: West High junior Peter Moe. The 6-foot-8 junior transfer from Indiana made this an easy choice after a spectacular debut season in which he led the Trojans in scoring (23.6) and rebounding (8.9) while shooting 55 percent from the field and 81 percent from the free throw line.
Toughest player: Solon senior Carson Shive. Another key for the success for Solon this season was all-around toughness and that’s what Shive, a standout linebacker in the fall, brought to the table on both ends of the court. Shive backed up his toughness with production shooting 49 percent from 3-point range while ranking third on the team with 9.5 points per game.
Freshman of the year: The more West High freshman Kareem Earl played the better he seemed to get as he finished his first varsity season averaging 6.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.
Freshman of the year part 2: The stats for West Branch freshman point guard Holden Arnaman (5.6 points, 2.7 assists per game) don’t leap off the page but the first-year point guard was unflappable down the stretch and his steadiness on both ends was integral in West Branch winning a conference title and reaching the 2A substate finals.
Most improved player: Regina junior Coltrae Kerschen. A year after shooting 21 percent from 3-point range and averaging 3.6 points per game Kerschen emerged as a knock down shooter hitting 40 percent from beyond the arc while averaging a career-high 11.6 points per game.
Bench player of the year: Clear Creek Amana junior Ben Swails. Along with providing instant energy off the bench as the Clippers’ sixth man Swails was productive on both ends average 7.2 points on 60 percent shooting and 2.1 rebounds per game.
Most valuable player: Liberty High senior Kelby Telander. The stats for Telander are solid if not eye-popping but his on-court demeanor and off the court leadership made the senior forward an indispensable piece for the Lightning. Telander average 14.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game but was even more valuable for what didn’t show up in the stat column.