Your Prep Sports
The boys basketball season came to an end last Friday with the playing of state championship games in all four classes.
It was another memorable season for boys basketball in the Your Prep Sports area filled with impressive individual and team performances.
With the season officially in the books Your Prep Sports looks back on the season by recognizing some of the best performances, players, coaches and moments of the season.
Best individual performance: Jack McCaffery against Western Dubuque. In two varsity seasons McCaffery has already had a number of monster performances but the 6-foot-8 sophomore was never more dominant than he was in a 54-44 win over Western Dubuque. McCaffery had 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, blocked 12 shots and grabbed seven rebounds.
Best individual performance part 2: Da’Shon Fisher against City High. In a senior season filled with impressive all-around efforts Fisher was at his stat-stuffing best in a 68-56 road win at City High. Fisher had a season-high 34 points on 14-of-20 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds, had four assists and two steals.
Best team performance: Solon against Mount Vernon. It’s tough to be sharper than the Spartans were in a 76-50 win over the Mustangs that completed the season sweep for Solon in the Highway 1 rivalry. Solon shot 61 percent from the field, was 12-of-25 from 3-point range, had 21 assists on 31 made field goals with just nine turnovers, had three players score in double figures and outrebounded Mount Vernon 30-16.
Coach of the year: Jared Galpin at Solon. Solon lost three starters, three of its top four scorers and its top two rebounders from a team that went 15-10 a year ago and didn’t skip a beat this season going 18-6 and advancing to the 3A substate title game for the third consecutive season under Galpin.
Biggest upset: City High over Cedar Rapids Xavier. The Little Hawks were 4-5 when it handed eventual Class 3A runner-up Cedar Rapids Xavier just its second loss of the season on January 13 with a 68-65 win over the Saints in Cedar Rapids.
Best game: City High against West High. The annual meeting between cross-town rivals played at Xtream Arena had it all. West High erased a 10-point third-quarter lead for City High and led 63-59 lead with 1:12 left before the Little Hawks scored the final five points on a Thomas Ksobiech 3-pointer and the go-ahead putback by Samuel Mbingazo putback with 11 seconds left for a 64-63 win.
Best comeback: Solon against Mount Vernon. Something about playing its arch rival seemed to bring out the best in the Spartans this season. The Spartans trailed by as many as 13 points in the second quarter and were down 37-30 at the half before shooting 59 percent from the field and going 6-of-11 from 3-point range while outscoring Mount Vernon 48-21 in the second half of a 78-58 win in Mount Vernon.
Breakthrough performer: Regina junior John Devery. As a sophomore Devery averaged 3.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game off the bench, seeing action in 20 games. Devery became a key cog for Regina this season, averaging 7.6 points, a team-high 8.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game as Regina increased its win total by three while finishing 9-13.
Emerging star: West High sophomore Jack McCaffery. A 6-foot-8 sharpshooter McCaffery jumped his totals from 9.9 points and 5 rebounds as a freshman to a team-leading 16 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.9 blocks this season. Here’s the thing – McCaffery is just scratching the surface and should be among the best in the state the next two seasons.
Best clutch performance: Holden Arnaman against Durant. In a win-or-go-home scenario Arnaman came up with the best performance of his career pouring in 41 points on 15-of-26 shooting in a 76-36 win over Durant in a Class 2A substate opener. Arnaman made 9-of-13 3-point attempt s and had five assists, four rebounds and two steals to go with his career-high 41 points.
Most improved player: West Branch junior Reese Trepanier. In his first season at West Branch last season Trepanier was solid, averaging 7.3 points and 6 rebounds per game. This season the 6-foot forward took his game to an entirely different level. Trepanier averaged a double-double with 16.7 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, shot 62 percent from the floor including 39 percent from 3-point range and added 2.5 assists, 1.7 steals and .3 blocked shots per game.
Most versatile: West Branch junior Holden Arnaman. Arnaman could probably fit into several of the categories on this list but what stood out most in a breakthrough all-state junior season for the West Branch point guard was his ability to impact the game in different ways on both ends of the court. Arnaman averaged a career-high 21.8 points on 47 percent shooting while scoring at all three levels. He ranked second in 2A with 5.7 assists per game and added 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.
Unsung hero: Liberty High senior Luke Ramsey. As an MVC all-division pick Ramsey wasn’t totally unsung all the time but he was the less flashy backcourt scorer alongside Fisher. All Ramsey did the past two seasons was produce, averaging 11.3 points per game this season while leading the Lightning with 59 made 3-pointers.
Hardest worker: Regina junior Drew Streb. The 6-foot-2 Streb gives up some height in the post and isn’t the most athletic player on the court. However, Streb more than makes up for that with hard work which helped make him one of the more productive posts in the River Valley Conference in his first full varsity season. Streb averaged a team-high 13.4 points per game on 51 percent shooting to go with 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.
Best under the radar player: Clear Creek Amana sophomore Brody Clubb. A varsity player last year as a freshman it’s easy to forget that Clubb is just a sophomore and his production continues to climb. The 6-foot-4 Clubb averaged 9.9 points on 50 percent shooting from the field this season and led Clear Creek Amana with 5.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots per game.
Most exciting player: Liberty High senior Da’Shon Fisher. This is the easiest selection on this entire list as Fisher was among the most electric players in the state the past two seasons. An explosive athlete, Fisher has always been a highlight reel machine with his dunks and acrobatic finishes around the rim but this season he rounded out his game while leading the Lightning in scoring (22), assists (4) and steals (1.2) while ranking second with 5.8 rebounds per game.
Newcomer of the year: Clear Creek Amana junior Haiden Hardy. In his first season at Clear Creek Amana the 6-foot-2 Hardy led the Clippers in scoring at 12.6 points per game and averaged 5.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game in 14 games.
Freshman of the year: JuJu Manson carved out a role early this season on a talented West High team with his energy and effort especially on the defensive end. The 6-foot-3 Manson was both efficient and productive averaging 8.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and a team-high 2.9 assists an 1.1 steals per game while shooting 53 percent from the floor.
Freshman of the year part 2: Samuel Mbingazo made an immediate impact in his first season at City High as the 6-foot-9 post emerged as a major paint presence. Mbingazo averaged 7.5 points while shooting 43 percent from the floor and added 6.7 rebounds and a team-high 1.2 blocked shots per game.
Bench player of the year: City High senior Matt Schaeckenbach. The statistics for Schaeckenbach aren’t earth shattering, the 6-foot-3 forward averaged 4.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, but statistics aren’t what made Schaeckenbach so valuable. He brought instant energy off the bench and his hustle and effort made him a key piece for the Little Hawks.
Most valuable player: Solon junior Jake Benzing. It was a breakthrough season for Benzing who was the lone Solon player to average in double figures while helping the Spartans to an 18-6 mark and a substate final berth. Benzing accounted for 28 percent of Solon’s scoring this season averaging a team-high 17.7 points and also led the Spartans with 5.7 rebounds to go with 1.1 steals and .5 blocks per game.