The western Iowa offseason lasted about six hours.
That’s the amount of time from when the Council Bluffs St. Albert football team walked off the field on the afternoon of Nov. 16 as the Class 1-A runner-up, to when the first WI girls basketball team, Orient-Macksburg, tipped off later that night.
Some schools have played a game or two. Others get started this weekend. Before we get any deeper into the 2012-13 campaign, The World-Herald unveils its first set of western Iowa girls and boys basketball ratings.
Beginning as the ratings leaders are the Sioux City Heelan (Class 4-A/3-A) and Nodaway Valley (Class 2-A/1-A) boys, and the Heelan (4-A/3-A) and IKM-Manning (2-A/1-A) girls. Keep in mind the ratings reflect play through Wednesday night.
Before we take a peek ahead, let’s get some perspective by taking a look at last season.
Eleven western Iowa teams reached Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines last year, six on the girls side and five on the boys.
The Bedford girls finished as the Class 1-A runner-up, while OA-BCIG (2-A), IKM-Manning (2-A) and Sioux City Heelan (3-A) all were ousted in the semifinals. Ar-We-Va (1-A) and Glenwood (3-A) lost in the quarterfinals.
Sioux City East was western Iowa’s other finalist, placing second in the Class 4-A boys field. Sioux City Heelan (3-A) and Clarinda (2-A) each finished third, while Nodaway Valley (1-A) was fourth and Council Bluffs St. Albert (1-A) lost in the first round.
The big story this season is the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union has expanded from four to five classes, meaning 40 teams will reach the state tournament.
In terms of which western Iowa teams this benefits, I’m not sure. The obvious answer appeared to be Council Bluffs Lewis Central, which for years had to battle through the top dog in Sioux City — usually North — to reach Des Moines. Now in 4-A, the Titans likely will have to annually get through a Heelan program that shows no signs of slowing.
In terms of enrollment, Sergeant Bluff-Luton is now the largest girls program in 3-A, while Carroll Kuemper is the largest in 2-A.
In boys basketball, large-school No. 1 Heelan returns its top two scorers in Shane Graves (19.2) and Kyle Heaton (13.8) as it seeks a seventh straight trip to Des Moines. No. 2 Atlantic returns its top three scorers — Dalton Franken (18.6), Sam Markham (10.5) and Chad Christensen (8.5) — and begins as the Hawkeye Ten Conference favorite.
Small-school No. 1 Nodaway Valley has moved back up to 2-A, but returns its top seven scorers, led by All-WI performers TJ Bower (15.8) and Alex Welsch (14.5). No. 2 IKM-Manning welcomes back six of its top eight scorers, led by senior sharpshooter TJ Sterk (19.9 ppg; .468 from 3-point range).
The journey has begun. Enjoy the ride everyone.
First team: MaKayla Augustine, Sr., Sioux City Heelan (4-A/3-A); Lexi Albrecht, Sr., Carroll Kuemper (2-A); Paige Danner, Jr., Ar-We-Va (1-A); Kayla Lindenmeyer, Sr., Bedford (1-A)
Second team: Tanya Meyer, Jr., Sioux City West (4-A/3-A); Chelsey Van Ness, Sr., Denison-Schleswig (4-A/3-A); Kaylee Blake, Sr., IKM-Manning (2-A); Serena Parker, So., Shenandoah (2-A); Amanda Focht, Sr., Villisca (1-A); Carmen Subbert, Jr., Stanton (1-A); Macy Williams, So., Fremont-Mills (1-A)
First team: Dalton Franken, Sr., Atlantic (4-A/3-A); Shane Graves, Sr., Sioux City Heelan (4-A/3-A); Britton Barrier, Sr., Tri-Center (2-A); TJ Sterk, Sr., IKM-Manning (2-A); Ricky Williams, Sr., Riverside (1-A); TJ Bower, Jr., Nodaway Valley (1-A); Alex Welsch, Sr., Nodaway Valley (1-A). Note: Nodaway Valley is in 2-A this year.
Second team: Derek Hall, Jr., Denison-Schleswig (4-A/3-A); Daniel Tillo, So., Sioux City North (4-A/3-A).
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