14 local players make all-conference lists
Although some schools' seasons came to an end early and others ended just shy of state, four Jasper County schools received plenty of good news with the release of the Heart of Iowa and South Iowa Cedar League all-conference lists.
Fourteen total players were honored throughout the lists, with Prairie City-Monroe landing five players, Lynnville-Sully totalling four, Collins-Maxwell-Baxter landing three and Colfax-Mingo landing two.
Junior Dillon Bruxvoort knew he had some big shoes to fill after his brother Scott's graduation, but he made a statement with the Mustangs' lone first team selection.
Bruxvoort averaged 10.2 points per game, putting him with the four other players that scored at least 10 per game. He also led the team in rebounds (6.4 per game), assists (79), steals (64), blocks (37) and field goals made (106). In the Mustangs' district championship loss to Pella Christian, Bruxvoort led the team with 15 points.
Making the second team for PCM was a pair of seniors in Michael Neff and Ethan Kain. Neff finished with 10.6 points per game and had the third-best shooting percentage on the team at a clip of 47.3. He also finished third with 4.4 rebounds per game and fourth in assists with 38.
Kain was the team’s 3-point specialist for the season, hitting 24 shots for a percentage of 37.5 and averaging a total of 10.5 points per game. Usually running the point, Kain finished second on the team with 64 total assists and 43 steals. Despite playing the guard position, he also still finished fourth on the team in rebounds with 3.3.
Another pair of seniors, Alex DeWitte and Nate Vande Wall, rounded out the Mustangs’ selections on the honorable mention list. DeWitte was a fixture in the middle for PCM, technically leading the team with 10.9 points per game and finishing second in rebounds with 134. Although he patrolled the middle, the was also able to stretch defenses with his passing and finished third on the team in assists with 44.
Vande Wall’s selection may be one of the more impressive ones in the conference considering he missed the first seven games of the year while recovering from a foot injury suffered during football season. Vande Wall finished with 8.3 points per game, and finished second on the team with 16 made 3-pointers despite missing the early part of the season.
Following a tremendous season by any standards, the Lynnville-Sully boys’ basketball team is well represented on the South Iowa Cedar League all-conference list. Four of the team’s regular starters were recognized for their play, starting with junior TJ Cunningham.
Cunningham, the Hawks’ leading scorer, was the team’s primary ball-handler and point guard for this season. He was the only Hawk player to average more than 10 points per game. His athleticism and outside shooting accuracy made him a dangerous option on offense as well as a key contributor on defense, which was where the Hawks’ bread was buttered. He shot 39 percent from three and 45 percent overall. He performed lights out in the second half of the team’s district final matchup against Iowa Mennonite School, and spearheaded a near-comeback that would have taken the Hawks to substate play. He played in all 24 games for the Hawks.
Representing L-S on the second team all-conference list was senior Nathan Russell. Russell was the team’s second leading scorer at just a hair under 10 points per game. He also posted more than four rebounds per game. He had a great senior season, and his outside shooting in district tournament play was one of the key factors in the Hawks making it to the final and nearly advancing to substate play.
He had a dead eye all season, regularly draining shots with defenders in his face. His contributions on the offensive end alone warranted a place on this list, but he also provided tough interior defense, averaging nearly a block per game and more than a steal per game.
The other two Hawk players represented are fittingly the Van Wyks, seniors Cale and Brady. They landed on the honorable mention list. Despite their shared surname, they were very different players. Brady was more of a ball handler, and lead distributor for the Hawks with 50 assists on the year. Brady averaged nearly seven points per game. He also picked up 34 steals on the other end of the floor.
Cale was one of the keys for L-S under the hoop all season. He was the team’s leading rebounder, and it wasn’t even close. His nearly seven rebounds per game average cleared all other Hawks’ players by at least two rebounds.
Without his ability to bang inside for tough rebounds, it’s difficult to see the Hawks getting as far as they did. He kept possessions alive on offense and limited team’s to one chance on defense by pulling in nearly every board that flew into his vicinity. Cale also contributed 21 blocks and 37 steals on the defensive end.
Not to be outshined by any of his players, however, was Hawks’ coach Nick Harthoorn, who split conference Coach of the Year honors with Sigourney coach Mitch Eslick. Harthoorn led the team to the co-champions of the SICL. He worked the team magically this season, often calling timely timeouts to settle his team down. He always appeared a calming, supportive and tactical leader from the sideline. It was clear his players trusted him and he believed in them the whole way. This honor is well deserved after a fantastic, and largely dominating season for Lynnville-Sully.
The future of CMB basketball appears to be a bright one as all three of Raiders’ selections are underclassmen.
Leading the way on the second team was sophomore Bryce Kemp. At times an unstoppable force, Kemp led the Raiders in scoring with 12.2 points per game and finished second behind junior Zach Samson in rebounds with 7.3. He also was tied for the team lead in blocks with 19 and and was tied for third in steals with 20.
Junior Austin Moorman and sophomore Seth Balke were the Raiders’ other two selections, earning honorable mention. Moorman earned an even nine points per game, finishing third on the team in scoring. He did most of his damage elsewhere in the scorebook, however, leading the Raiders in assists (58) and steals (37).
After working his way into the starting lineup, Balke became a reliable option for the Raiders down the stretch. He finished with 6.6 points per game on 47.1 shooting percentage, which placed him third on the team.
Representing the Tigerhawks of Colfax-Mingo as a first team all-conference player for the Heart of Iowa Conference was senior Vaughn Wilson. This should come as no surprise to Wilson, his coach or anybody else who saw the senior play this season. Despite a difficult season in terms of wins for the Tigerhawks, Wilson averaged a conference-leading 21 points per game on better than 54 percent shooting.
He was nearly unstoppable in the post, either getting fouled or scoring with post moves regularly. He was overpowering particularly on the left block, where he gave post defenders fits all season. He was also supremely efficient from the foul line, shooting 76 percent. Wlison also picked up 9.7 rebounds per game, coming about as close as he could have to averaging a double-double.
On the defensive end, he led the Tigerhawks with 42 blocked shots. To put that in perspective, fellow senior Connor Hainer was second on the team with nine. Wilson finished off his senior season with 24 points and 14 rebounds in the loss to Van Meter.
Hainer was the other Tigerhawk to be recognized on the all-conference list. He led C-M with 90 assists on the year, many of which were inside passes to the aforementioned Wilson.
Those 90 assists put Hainer third overall in the Heart of Iowa Conference. Hainer also picked up 56 steals on the year, which also led the team. Hainer was the only other Tigerhawk besides Wilson to put up double figures on offense, averaging 12.5 points per game.
He was second in rebounds as well with an average rebounding rate of 5.7 per contest. Hainer was the outside shooting presence for C-M. During their charge late in the season, he became a lights out shooter, requiring teams to take the double-team off of Wilson, which opened up inside opportunities for the big man.