Missouri River Conference NEW

(KMAland) -- The winter sports season is right around the corner, and we are getting you ready with daily conference previews. No. 7 is the Missouri River Conference boys basketball preview.

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2021-22 MISSOURI RIVER CONFERENCE BOYS BASKETBALL PREVIEW 

The usually strong league was definitely that last year with two state tournament teams and four that had average point differentials in double digits. Here’s how the standings looked:

Council Bluffs, Abraham Lincoln Lynx — 19-5 overall, 14-0 conference

LeMars Bulldogs — 17-6 overall, 13-2 conference

Sioux City East Black Raiders — 13-10 overall, 9-5 conference

Sergeant Bluff-Luton Warriors — 17-8 overall, 8-6 conference

Sioux City West Wolverines — 11-11 overall, 6-8 conference

Bishop Heelan Catholic Crusaders — 6-16 overall, 4-11 conference

Sioux City North Stars — 4-18 conference, 2-12 conference

Council Bluffs, Thomas Jefferson Yellow Jackets — 1-21 overall, 1-13 conference

COACHES

•Abraham Lincoln: Jason Isaacson

•Bishop Heelan Catholic: Andy Foster

•LeMars: Dave Irwin

•Sergeant Bluff-Luton: Adam Vander Schaaf

•Sioux City East: Ras Vanderloo

•Sioux City North: David Den Herder

•Sioux City West: CoCo Cofield

•Thomas Jefferson: Nate Kreifels

TOP-RETURNING SCORERS

There were some big-time scorers in the league last season, and the top four of them are back. Also noteworthy, seven of the top 10 from last season are returning. Here’s the top 15 returning scorers by points per game.

1. DaVares Whitaker, SR, Sioux City East: An all-around scoring threat, Whitaker put in 24.7 points per game to lead the conference last season. 

2. Josh Dix, SR, Abraham Lincoln: The top player in the state in the Class of 2022, the Iowa signee averaged 19.4 points per game as a junior.

3. Keavian Hayes, JR, Sioux City West: The top scoring sophomore in the conference last season, Hayes averaged 17.4 points per game to rank third in the MRC.

4. Keeon Hutton, SR, Sioux City West: Hutton placed fourth in the conference with 16.7 points per game and joined Whitaker and Dix as one of three in the league with 16+ PPG and 7+ RPG.

5. Bie Ruei, SR, Sioux City East: Ruei had a strong breakout junior season with 11.9 points per game, ranking seventh in last year’s conference.

The rest of the top 15:

6. Austin Schubert, SR, Thomas Jefferson: 11.9 PPG

7. Jamison Gruber, SR, Abraham Lincoln: 11.9 PPG

8. Nick Miller, SR, Bishop Heelan Catholic: 10.8 PPG

9. Caleb Dreckman, SR, LeMars: 10.0 PPG

10. Carter Kuehl, JR, Bishop Heelan Catholic: 8.5 PPG

11. Brady Williams, SR, LeMars: 7.9 PPG

12. Lamarion Mothershead, JR, Sioux City West: 7.9 PPG

13. Jacob Imming, SR, Sergeant Bluff-Luton: 7.6 PPG

14. Levi Meis, SR, Bishop Heelan Catholic: 7.6 PPG

15. Carter Pinney, SR, Sioux City North: 7.5 PPG

All eight schools are represented here, led by Bishop Heelan Catholic and Sioux City West with three apiece. Abraham Lincoln, LeMars and Sioux City East have two each.

TOP-RETURNING REBOUNDERS

The top two rebounders from last year’s MRC are gone. However, the next four and seven of the top 10 are returning. Here are the top 15 returning rebounds:

1. Josh Dix, SR, Abraham Lincoln: One of the purest scorers in all of the state can also go up and get it. Dix was third in the MRC last season with 7.2 rebounds per game.

2. DaVares Whitaker, SR, Sioux City East: Whitaker averaged two offensive rebounds and five defensive rebounds for 7.0 rebounds per game.

3. Keeon Hutton, SR, Sioux City West: Most of Hutton’s 7.0 rebounds per game came on the defensive glass (5.6).

4. Nick Miller, SR, Bishop Heelan Catholic: One of only four in the league with 10+ points and 7.0+ rebounds per game.

5. Austin Schubert, SR, Thomas Jefferson: The names are starting to seem familiar. Schubert averaged 6.6 rebounds per game and ranked eighth in the conference last season. 

The rest of the top 15:

6. Jacob Imming, SR, Sergeant Bluff-Luton: 5.3 RPG

7. Beau Chamberlain, SO, Bishop Heelan Catholic: 5.3 RPG

8. Konnor Calhoun, SR, LeMars: 4.7 RPG

9. Brady Williams, SR, LeMars: 4.7 RPG

10. Bie Ruei, SR, Sioux City East: 4.6 RPG

11. Kelynn Jacobsen, JR, Sioux City East: 4.5 RPG

12. Keavian Hayes, JR, Sioux City West: 4.3 RPG

13. Brandt VanDyke, JR, Sioux City East: 3.7 RPG

14. Jack Lloyd, JR, Sioux City North: 3.5 RPG

15. Caleb Dreckman, SR, LeMars: 3.2 RPG

Sioux City East has four of the top 13 returning rebounders while LeMars can claim three of the top 15 and Heelan and Sioux City West have two represented above.

TOP-RETURNING ASSISTS

The top three assist men in the league last year are returning to the fold. However, only five of the top 11 are back. These are the top 15:

1. DaVares Whitaker, SR, Sioux City East: He can score, he can board and he led the conference with 110 assists.

2. Josh Dix, SR, Abraham Lincoln: He can score, he can board and he was second in the conference with 100 assists last season.

2. Jamison Gruber, SR, Abraham Lincoln: Another highly important piece to AL’s puzzle, Gruber tied for second in the conference with his teammate.

4. Keeon Hutton, SR, Sioux City West: One of three players in the conference with 300+ points and 70+ assists, Hutton had 79 total assists.

5. Brady Williams, SR, Sioux City West: Williams ranked seventh in the MRC last year with 69 assists, and he had just 19 turnovers.

The rest of the top 15:

6. Bie Ruei, SR, Sioux City East: 56 assists

7. Levi Meis, SR, Bishop Heelan Catholic: 55 assists

8. Jacob Imming, SR, Sergeant Bluff-Luton: 50 assists

8. Austin Schubert, SR, Thomas Jefferson: 50 assists

10. Jake Beargeon, SR, Sioux City North: 45 assits

11. Caleb Dreckman, SR, LeMars: 44 assists

12. Carter Kuehl, JR, Bishop Heelan Catholic: 40 assists 

13. Tyler Smith, JR, Sergeant Bluff-Luton: 39 assists

14. Evan Schultz, SR, Bishop Heelan Catholic: 37 assists

15. Beau Chamberlain, SO, Bishop Heelan Catholic: 28 assists

Every team is represented in the top 15 here, led by the four from Heelan. Abraham Lincoln, Sergeant Bluff-Luton and Sioux Citys East and West have two apiece.

TOP-RETURNING STEALS

Four of the top five in this category are back in the conference. Seven of the top 11 are also coming back. Here’s the top 15:

1. Josh Dix, SR, Abraham Lincoln: A terrific defender, Dix had 57 steals to lead the conference.

2. Jamison Gruber, SR, Abraham Lincoln: Another key stat for the Lynx, Gruber was second in the conference and on his team with 55 steals.

3. Keavian Hayes, JR, Sioux City West: Another top category for Hayes, who finished with 42 steals in fourth place.

4. DaVares Whitaker, SR, Sioux City East: Whitaker had 41 steals during his junior year to rank in fifth place.

5. Keeon Hutton, SR, Sioux City West: It’s a three-way tie with 27 steals, and Hutton was quite active on every level of the floor.

5. Tyler Smith, JR, Sergeant Bluff-Luton: The star QB in football made a living nabbing steals.

5. Brady Williams, SR, LeMars: Williams is the third member of the three-way tie for ninth with 27 steals.

The rest of the top 15:

8. Mabior Akuien, SR, Sioux City West: 25 steals

8. Jake Beargeon, SR, Sioux City North: 25 steals

10. Caleb Dreckman, SR, LeMars: 21 steals

10. Bie Ruei, SR, Sioux City East: 21 steals

10. Austin Schubert, SR, Thomas Jefferson: 21 steals

13. Jacob Imming, SR, Sergeant Bluff-Luton: 19 steals

13. Carter Kuehl, JR, Bishop Heelan Catholic: 19 steals

15. Beau Chamberlain, SO, Bishop Heelan Catholic: 18 steals

15. Kelynn Jacobsen, JR, Sioux City East: 18 steals

All eight teams are, again, represented in this top 16. Give it up for Sioux City East and West for having three each while Abraham Lincoln, Bishop Heelan, LeMars and Sergeant Bluff-Luton all have two each.

TOP-RETURNING BLOCKS

The top three are gone but eh next three are back. Here’s a look at the top 15:

1. Konnor Calhoun, SR, LeMars: Calhoun actually tied for third in the conference with 38 swats, and he made just one start all season.

2. Josh Dix, SR, Abraham Lincoln: There are no limits to this dude’s abilities. Dix was second with 30 blocks.

3. Nick Miller, SR, Bishop Heelan Catholic: It’s a steady drop from Dix to Miller, who had 16 swats to finish sixth.

4. Jake Duffey, SR, Abraham Lincoln: Duffey tied for ninth in the MRC with nine blocks.

4. Austin Schubert, SR, Thomas Jefferson: The drop continues. Schubert tied for ninth in the conference with the nine blocks.

The rest of the top 15:

6. Lamarion Mothershead, JR, Sioux City West: 6 blocks

6. Carter Pinney, SR, Sioux City North: 6 blocks

8. Beau Chamberlain, SO, Bishop Heelan Catholic: 5 blocks

8. Bryce Click, SR, Sergeant Bluff-Luton: 5 blocks

8. Tyler Fry, SR, Sioux City North: 5 blocks

8. Keavian Hayes, JR, Sioux City West: 5 blocks

8. Keeon Hutton, SR, Sioux City West: 5 blocks

8. Tajohn Swaggerty-Morgan, JR, Sioux City North: 5 blocks

14. JR Knauss, SR, Abraham Lincoln: 4 blocks

14. Brady Williams, SR, LeMars: 4 blocks

Abraham Lincoln, Sioux City North and Sioux City West all rank three in the group above while Heelan and LeMars have two each. Sioux City East doesn’t appear to have kept block stats, but you can beat Whitaker probably would have found his way in the top 15.

TOP-RETURNING SHOOTERS 

Here are the top 10 returning shooters in terms of 3-point makes:

1. Josh Dix, SR, Abraham Lincoln: 54 3PM (37.8%)

2. Caleb Dreckman, SR, LeMars: 47 3PM (43.1%)

3. DaVares Whitaker, SR, Sioux City East: 45 3PM (29.6%)

4. Carter Kuehl, JR, Bishop Heelan Catholic: 42 3PM (33.9%)

4. Bie Ruei, SR, Sioux City East: 42 3PM (38.2%)

6. Brady Williams, SR, LeMars: 41 3PM (51.6%)

7. Lamarion Mothershead, JR, Sioux City West: 40 3PM (36.7%)

8. Keeon Hutton, SR, Sioux City West: 31 3PM (36.0%)

9. Jamison Gruber, SR, Abraham Lincoln: 29 3PM (37.7%)

9. Keavian Hayes, JR, Sioux City West: 29 3PM (34.5%)

Sioux City West has three in the top 10 here while Abraham Lincoln, LeMars and Sioux City East all have two apiece. The other three teams and their top shooter:

11. Carter Pinney, SR, Sioux City North: 27 3PM (30.0%)

13. Tyler Smith, JR, Sergeant Bluff-Luton: 20 3PM (35.1%)

24. Jaiden Adams, SR; Lane Toman, SR, Thomas Jefferson: 7 3PM (21.9% & 41.2%)

On to the top 10 free throw shooters in terms of makes:

1. DaVares Whitaker, SR, Sioux City East: 112 FTM (67.5%)

2. Keeon Hutton, SR, Sioux City West: 73 FTM (79.3%)

3. Josh Dix, SR, Abraham Lincoln: 66 FTM (73.3%)

4. Keavian Hayes, JR, Sioux City West: 64 FTM (71.9%)

5. Austin Schubert, SR, Thomas Jefferson: 51 FTM (44.7%)

6. Jamison Gruber, SR, Abraham Lincoln: 48 FTM (73.8%)

7. Levi Meis, SR, Bishop Heelan Catholic: 38 FTM (76.0%)

8. Bie Ruei, SR, Sioux City East: 36 FTM (70.6%)

9. Nick Miller, SR, Bishop Heelan Catholic: 31 FTM (56.4%)

10. Tyler Smith, JR, Sergeant Bluff-Luton: 27 FTM (65.9%)

10. Tajohn Swaggerty-Morgan, JR, Sioux City North: 27 FTM (75.0%)

Abraham Lincoln, Bishop Heelan, Sioux City East and Sioux City West all have two each above. LeMars is the only team not represented, and they have this guy as their top-returning free throw shooter:

15. Brady Williams, SR, LeMars: 19 FTM (67.9%)

ONE FINAL TAKE FOR EACH TEAM 

Here’s one final take for each team listed in their order of projected finish:

Abraham Lincoln: There’s not a real clear idea of what the Lynx will look like after Dix and Gruber, but we’re saying that doesn’t completely matter. AL always finds bodies to fill in and play roles, and with the state’s best senior leading the way it’s hard to pick against them.

Sioux City East: This was a pretty young team last year with just two seniors making major contributions. Whitaker should continue to light things up, and he has plenty of able bodies around him to fill around.

LeMars: A strong senior class is gone, but this year’s seniors are also very good. East has just a little bit more coming back, so the Black Raiders get the edge over the Bulldogs, although I figure it will be a pretty tight race.

Sioux City West: Lots of production, talent and experience will return for the Wolverines this year. They were more than capable of picking up impressive wins last year, and it sure seems like they will be primed to do that again this year.

Sergeant Bluff-Luton: Their constant success advancing to and at state should be good for a couple spots, right? Even when they lose four senior starters and their returning starter is a Division I football commit (Jacob Imming). 

Bishop Heelan Catholic: There was one senior on last year’s team, and he gave them 65 points all year. With all that is coming back, Heelan might be able to make a small resurgence up the standings.

Sioux City North: Six guys started at least 12 games last year and four of them are returning. Their two most often-used reserves were a freshman and a sophomore so there should be a jump this season.

Thomas Jefferson: Three of the four that started every single game last year have graduated. The final spot in the starting lineup went to a mix of a senior and two juniors. Other than those folks, there’s really not a lot of varsity experience. 

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

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