Pride of Iowa Conference NEW

(KMAland) -- The winter sports season is right around the corner, and we are getting you ready with daily conference previews. No. 10 is the Pride of Iowa Conference boys basketball preview.

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2021-2022 PRIDE OF IOWA CONFERENCE BOYS BASKETBALL PREVIEW

This was a league run by Martensdale-St. Marys last season. The Blue Devils were fantastic and fantastic enough to win their first state tournament game, advancing to the state semifinals. Their average scoring margin for the season was 29.7 points per game. Mount Ayr, Nodaway Valley, Central Decatur and Lenox also had positive point differentials. Bedford — at -4.4 and with a 6-15 overall record — may have had a run of bad luck. Here’s a look at the standings from last season via Varsity Bound:

Martensdale-St. Marys Blue Devils — 25-1 overall, 13-0 conference

Mount Ayr Raiders — 19-5 overall, 11-2 conference

Nodaway Valley Wolverines — 14-9 overall, 10-3 conference

Central Decatur Cardinals — 13-8 overall, 9-3 conference

Lenox Tigers — 12-10 overall, 7-6 conference

Wayne Falcons — 9-13 overall, 5-8 conference

Southwest Valley Timberwolves — 7-14 overall, 2-8 conference

Bedford Bulldogs — 6-15 overall, 2-9 conference

East Union Eagles — 4-17 overall, 1-11 conference

Southeast Warren Warhawks — 3-17 overall, 1-11 conference

COACHES

•Bedford: Frank Sefrit

•Central Decatur: Curtis Boothe

•East Union: Mike Hansen

•Lenox: Curtis Fisher

•Martensdale-St. Marys: Joe Franey

•Mount Ayr: Bret Ruggles

•Nodaway Valley: Jeremy Blake

•Southeast Warren: Ken Hutchinson

•Southwest Valley: Kyle Bashor

•Wayne: Cole Crawford

One fun thing I’m going to do for the rest of the way is search the names of each coach and team in the 2020-21 stat book from the IHSAA. Here are some notes:

•Coach Franey has led the Blue Devils to back-to-back state tournaments — the only two trips in the program’s history.

•In 1989 state tournament, Curtis Boothe led the Class 1A field with 72 points scored over the course of three games. He was named to the All-Tournament Team along with some guy by the name of Trev Alberts, who is now the AD at Nebraska. The Cardinals finished fourth in their only trip to state. 

•The last state tournament trip for Bedford came in 2008 under the direction of Kevin Blunt. Frank Sefrit was an assistant on that staff.

•Lenox has been to the state tournament one time in program history: 1939.

•Mount Ayr has been to five state tournaments, but the last one of those came in 1975. The others were in 1931, 1932, 1953 and 1973.

•Nodaway Valley has been to six state tournaments, including 2006 when they won’t eh state tournament. Their last appearance was in 2015. All six of those qualifications came under KMA Sports Hall of Fame coach Darrell Burmeister. 

•Southeast Warren has been to one state tournament, qualifying in 1999 under the direction of head coach Tracy Hook. 

•Southwest Valley has never been to state, but Corning went four times (1960, 1976, 1977, 1978) and Villisca was there once (2009).

•Wayne has been to state three times in program history with the last one coming in 1985. The other two were in 1968 and 1983.

TOP-RETURNING SCORERS  

Five of the top six scorers from last year’s Pride of Iowa Conference are back. Only four of the top 10 graduated. Here are the top 15 returnees in points per game:

1. Jaixen Frost, JR, Mount Ayr: Frost poured in 21.5 points per game to lead the conference during his super sophomore season.

2. Keaton England, JR, Lenox: England ranked third in the conference last season, scoring 14.6 points per game.

3. Cale Eklund, SR, East Union: The top-returning senior scorer, Eklund put in 14.6 points per game, finishing just decimal points behind England.

4. Trey Hullinger, SR, Central Decatur: Hullinger ranked fifth in the conference last season with 13.8 points per game.

5. Matthew Boothe, SR, Central Decatur: Boothe took after his father while averaging 13.8 points per game to rank sixth in the conference.

The rest of the top 15:

6. Avery Phillippi, JR, Nodaway Valley: 13.3 PPG

7. Hogan Franey, SR, Martensdale-St. Marys: 11.2 PPG

8. Jack Williams, JR, Southeast Warren: 10.8 PPG

9. Cade Nelson, SR, Southeast Warren: 10.0 PPG

10. Boston DeVault, JR, Nodaway Valley: 9.7 PPG

11. Cauy Masters, SR, Central Decatur: 9.5 PPG

12. Samson Adams, JR, Lenox: 9.2 PPG

13. Jack Scrivner, JR, Central Decatur: 8.8 PPG

14. Owen Lucas, SR, Bedford: 8.5 PPG

15. Gabe Fuller, SR, Southwest Valley: 8.0 PPG

Central Decatur has four of the top 13 returning scorers and are one of just four teams with two in the top 15. The other three are Lenox, Nodaway Valley and Southeast Warren. The only team not represented here is Wayne. Their top-returning scorer and ranking in PPG:

21. Strait Jacobsen, JR, Wayne: 5.6 PPG

TOP-RETURNING REBOUNDERS 

The top two rebounders last season graduated, but the next four are coming back. Out of the top 11, six of them are gone. Here are the top 15 returnees in rebounds per game:

1. Justin McConahay, SR, Wayne: All right, all right, all right. McConahay was third in the conference last season with 8.6 RPG and was one of just five to average three offensive boards per contest.

2. Jack Williams, JR, Southeast Warren: The sophomore led the conference with 3.8 offensive rebounds per game and was fourth in the conference with 8.0 overall on average.

3. Cauy Masters, SR, Central Decatur: Masters was fifth in the conference last season with 7.7 rebounds per game. 

4. Samson Adams, JR, Lenox: Adams is another that averaged at least three offensive rebounds per game a season ago, finishing with 7.5 total per game.

5. Silas Walston, SO, Bedford: The debut season for Walston saw him average 7.0 rebounds per game, ranking ninth in the conference.

The rest of the top 15 returnees: 

6. Jack Scrivner, JR, Central Decatur: 6.0 RPG

7. Asher Weed, JR, Bedford: 6.0 RPG

8. Jaixen Frost, JR, Mount Ayr: 5.9 RPG

9. Cody Larson, SR, Mount Ayr: 5.7 RPG

10. Avery Phillippi, JR, Nodaway Valley: 5.5 RPG

11. Matthew Boothe, SR, Central Decatur: 5.3 RPG

12. Trey Hullinger, SR, Central Decatur: 4.6 RPG

12. Blake Thomas, SR, Southwest Valley: 4.6 RPG

14. Owen Lucas, SR, Bedford: 3.4 RPG

15. Strait Jacobsen, JR, Wayne: 3.3 RPG

Central Decatur has another four among the top 12 here while Bedford has three listed above and Mount Ayr and Wayne have two apiece. East Union and Martensale-St. Marys’ top returning rebounders: 

16. Hogan Franey, SR, Martensdale-St. Marys: 3.2 RPG

20. Wyatt Carlson, SR, East Union: 3.0 RPG

TOP-RETURNING ASSISTS 

Five of the top seven leaders in total assists last season are gone from the league. That includes all of the top three. Here’s a look at the top-returning players in total assists:

1. Jaixen Frost, JR, Mount Ayr: The top-returning scorer in the conference is also the top-returning player in assists. Frost had 85 assists last season to rank fourth.

2. Keaton England, JR, Lenox: England posted 82 assists and was one of just two (along with Frost) to score over 300 points and have over 80 assists.

3. Boston DeVault, JR, Nodaway Valley: DeVault as eighth in the conference last season with 74 assists, and he only had 34 turnovers — the lowest amount among the top 10 in assists last season.

4. Matthew Boothe, SR, Central Decatur: Boothe posted 73 assists and finished in a ninth-place tie last season.

5. Hogan Franey, SR, Martensdale-St. Marys: Franey was 11th in the POI with 69 assists and only had 28 turnovers for the entire season. 

The rest of the top 15:

6. Cale Eklund, SR, East Union: 54 assists

7. Conner Nally, SO, Bedford: 53 assists

8. Walon Cook, JR, Lenox: 49 assists

8. Trey Hullinger, SR, Central Decatur: 49 assists

10. Nathan Russell, SR, Nodaway Valley: 48 assists

11. Tristen Cummings, JR, Bedford: 46 assists

12. Strait Jacobsen, JR, Wayne: 44 assists

13. Samson Adams, JR, Lenox: 43 assists

14. Cade Nelson, SR, Southeast Warren: 39 assists

14. Avery Phillippi, JR, Nodaway Valley: 39 assists

Both Lenox and Nodaway Valley have three individuals each in the list above. Bedford and Central Decatur have two each. The only team without one is Southwest Valley. Their leader:

19. Gabe Fuller, SR, Southwest Valley: 32 assists

TOP-RETURNING STEALS 

The top two and six of the top seven in total steals are gone from the Pride of Iowa. Here are the top 15 returnees: 

1. Jaixen Frost, JR, Mount Ayr: There’s that man again. Frost was third in the conference last season with 77 steals.

2. Boston DeVault, JR, Nodaway Valley: DeVault is another that did a little bit of everything, finishing with 46 steals while ranking eighth in last year’s conference.

3. Cade Nelson, SR, Southeast Warren: Nelson was ninth in the conference last season with 45 steals.

4. Hogan Franey, SR, Martensdale-St. Marys: The thing that set MSTM apart from a lot of the league last season was their ability to defend and turn you over. Franey was a part of that with 44 steals (10th in the conference).

5. Keaton England, JR, Lenox: England finished last year in a tie for 12th with 42 total steals.

5. Trey Hullinger, SR, Central Decatur: And the other one that tied for 12th was Hullinger, who also had 42 steals.

The rest of the top 15:

7. Samson Adams, JR, Lenox: 40 steals

8. Wyatt Carlson, SR, East Union: 38 steals

8. Conner Nally, SO, Bedford: 38 steals

10. Talon Cook, JR, Lenox: 37 steals

11. Matthew Boothe, SR, Central Decatur: 35 steals

12. Isaac Grundman, JR, Lenox: 34 steals

13. Cauy Masters, SR, Central Decatur: 33 steals

14. Asher Weed, JR, Bedford: 32 steals

15. Avery Phillippi, JR, Nodaway Valley: 30 steals

Lenox leads the way in steals with four of the top 12 returnees in the category. Central Decatur has three on the list above, and Bedford and Nodaway Valley return two apiece. Only Southwest Valley and Wayne are missing from it. Here are their leading returnees:

16. Cale Eklund, SR, East Union: 26 steals

17. Gabe Fuller, SR, Southwest Valley: 25 steals

TOP-RETURNING BLOCKS 

Three of the top four are gone from this category, but they do have eight of the top 12 coming back. That’s led by last year’s blocks leader:

1. Jack Scrivner, JR, Central Decatur: Scrivner had 20 more blocks than anybody else in the rest of the league, posting 54 on the season. 

2. Justin McConahay, SR, Wayne: McConahay ranked fourth in the league last season with 28 blocks.

3. Matthew Boothe, SR, Central Decatur: We drop all the way to 19 total blocks, although Boothe was sixth in the conference last season.

4. Silas Walston, SO, Bedford: The Bedford standout had 14 blocks for the season a year ago.

5. Avery Phillippi, JR, Nodaway Valley: Phillippi ranked ninth last year with 13 total blocks. Among the top five returnees, he had the fewest fouls (15).

The rest of the top 15:

6. Cody Larson, SR, Mount Ayr: 12 blocks

6. Joey Oathoudt, SR, Southwest Valley: 12 blocks

6. Asher Weed, JR, Bedford: 12 blocks

9. Samson Adams, JR, Lenox: 11 blocks

9. Jaixen Frost, JR, Mount Ayr: 11 blocks

11. Cale Eklund, SR, East Union: 7 blocks

11. Strait Jacobsen, JR, Wayne: 7 blocks

11. Kyle Linhart, JR, Central Decatur: 7 blocks

11. Cauy Masters, SR, Central Decatur: 7 blocks

15. Jack Williams, JR, Southeast Warren: 6 blocks

Nine of the 10 teams are represented above with Central Decatur bringing back four of the top 14. Bedford, Mount Ayr and Wayne all have two each. Martensdale-St. Mary is the only team not represented. Their top-returning blocker:

16. Hogan Franey, SR, Martensdale-St. Marys: 5 blocks

TOP-RETURNING SHOOTERS 

Four of the top five returning 3-point shooters (by total makes) have graduated. The top shooter in last year’s conference, though is back! Here’s the top 10:

1. Hogan Franey, SR, Martensdale-St. Marys: 65 3PM (40.1%)

2. Boston DeVault, JR, Nodaway Valley: 45 3PM (28.1%)

3. Keaton England, JR, Lenox: 42 3PM (25.3%)

4. Cade Nelson, SR, Southeast Warren: 38 3PM (25.7%)

5. Matthew Boothe, SR, Central Decatur: 33 3PM (36.7%)

6. Owen Lucas, SR, Bedford: 29 3PM (36.2%)

7. Jaixen Frost, JR, Mount Ayr: 28 3PM (40.0%)

8. Walon Cook, JR, Lenox: 26 3PM (34.7%)

8. Cale Eklund, SR, East Union: 26 3PM (24.1%)

10. Avery Phillippi, JR, Nodaway Valley: 25 3PM (33.8%)

Lenox and Nodaway Valley both have two of the top-returning 3-point shot makers. Southwest Valley and Wayne’s top-returning 3-point shooters:

11. Owen Wilkinson, SR, Southwest Valley: 24 3PM (36.4%)

14. Rayce Snyder, SO, Wayne: 18 3PM (31.0%)

On to the top 10 free throw shooters returning to the conference:

1. Jaixen Frost, JR, Mount Ayr: 99 FTM (90.0%) <<< WHOA!

2. Trey Hullinger, SR, Central Decatur: 71 FTM (73.2%)

3. Matthew Boothe, SR, Central Decatur: 59 FTM (90.8%) <<< Also WHOA!

4. Cale Eklund, SR, East Union: 58 FTM (72.5%)

5. Avery Phillippi, JR, Nodaway Valley: 45 FTM (71.4%)

6. Cauy Masters, SR, Central Decatur: 42 FTM (53.2%)

7. Keaton England, JR, Lenox: 40 FTM (58.0%)

8. Wyatt Carlson, SR, East Union: 36 FTM (48.0%)

9. Samson Adams, JR, Lenox: 35 FTM (68.6%)

10. Jack Williams, JR, Southeast Warren: 30 FTM (41.7%)

Only six teams represented here with Central Decatur leading the way with three. East Union and Lenox have two each. The rest of the teams’ top-returning free throw shooters:

11. Hogan Franey, SR, Martensdale-St. Marys: 29 FTM (63.0%)

13. Strait Jacobsen, JR, Wayne: 28 FTM (50.9%)

16. Tristen Cummings, JR, Bedford: 23 FTM (50.0%)

27. Blake Thomas, SR, Southwest Valley: 12 FTM (34.3%)

ONE FINAL TAKE FOR EACH TEAM 

Here’s one final take on each team, listed in the order of projected finish:

Central Decatur: The Cardinals just have so much returning from last season. And by so much, I mean all of it. They didn’t have a single senior last year, and they took a step forward. Now, for the next step. Could they join the 1989 team?

Lenox: Lenox went from four wins to 12 wins and now they look to make another move. Is this a little bit of an aggressive jump? Maybe. But this year’s junior class should be very difficult to deal with all over the court.

Nodaway Valley: The Wolverines bring back three starters and two very key reserves that should slot right into that starting lineup. They could very well be a slot or two low.

Mount Ayr: This was a GREAT team a year ago, and they could get to that again this year. However, they are going to need to replace four seniors that played all kinds of minutes. Jaixen Frost, though, is the best player in the conference. If they can find some able replacements for last year’s seniors they could be right back where they were a year ago.

Martensdale-St. Marys: I can already feel the heat from the Martensdale-St. Marys faithful. Here’s the deal, though: They could easily be the conference champion and a state tournament contender again this year. The problem is that I just don’t know the names of most of the guys that will lead the way. Their senior class from last year was legendary, and they have the fewest in those categories above. This pick is low in what they’ve done in the most recent past, but it’s also high based on guys that have played key varsity minutes. My guess is that they will be very good again. For now, though, I’ll be conservative with their spot.

Bedford: I’m looking for a big leap for the Bulldogs this year. They had zero seniors a year ago and will have eight different players that made starts to choose from this year. Coach Sefrit’s team was competitive for a large portion of the season a year ago. Now, they’ll scratch out some extra wins in those games.

Southeast Warren: The Warhawks lose three regular starters from last season, but Cade Nelson and Jack Williams are two experienced and talented players to build around. Plus, they had a really good freshman class in football this year. Maybe a couple of those will be contributors this season. 

Southwest Valley: Southwest Valley lost three seniors that were very, very important pieces to their seven-win team last year. Four seniors on this year’s team, though, have a lot of experience. Plus, there a couple juniors and some sophomores that also could help this team make some strides this year.

East Union: A strong senior class has graduated, but seniors Cale Eklund and Wyatt Carlson should also be experienced enough to lead what will likely be a young team otherwise.

Wayne: The Falcons lose four players that started at least nine games from last season. Justin McConahay and Strait Jacobsen will lead the way for this year’s Falcons. The rest of that starting lineup, though, is completely up in the air with the graduation of seven total seniors.

Send any questions, comments, concerns and/or corrections to dmartin@kmamail.com.

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