Boys' high school basketball district pairings were released last week, giving us a picture of what the district tournaments - which begin Feb. 11 in classes 1A and 2A - will look like. Here's a look at the pairings, followed by some thoughts and analysis for each district.
CLASS 1A, DISTRICT 3
Analysis: Based on the first half of the season, Bishop Garrigan and Newman Catholic stand out as the likely first and second seeds. The Knights boast a 12-2 mark and are in contention for a conference crown in the Top of Iowa Conference East Division. The Golden Bears are 10-4 but are undefeated against Class 1A opponents and own a convincing win over Newman on Jan. 12.
St. Edmond (7-6), the only other team in the district with a winning record, could be a bit of sleeper as the Gaels have played a schedule that includes several teams from larger classes. Garrigan did defeat St. Edmond by 12 in the first game of the season.
West Hancock (6-9) could also be a surprise. The Eagles have played well at times this season and own a couple of impressive victories. If the Eagles get hot from the three-point line, they could be a difficult out in any given game.
CLASS 1A, DISTRICT 4
Analysis: Depending how the pairings fall, this district has a number of teams who could appear in the championship game.
Rockford is 11-3 thus far, but the losses have come against a pair of very solid 1A opponents – Newman Catholic and West Fork – and a 2A Osage team. Janesville is also 11-3 and has enough size on the front line to compete with the Warriors.
St. Ansgar (9-4) and Turkey Valley (10-4) have four losses and could also make deep runs. The Saints have made their mark in a difficult Top of Iowa Conference East Division while Turkey Valley has had a number of solid victories and a couple of puzzling losses.
Despite holding a record that is one game below .500, Nashua-Plainfield (6-7) has been much-improved of late with five wins in their past eight games. The Huskies also took Newman Catholic to the brink before falling by six.
CLASS 1A, DISTRICT 10
Analysis: This district is potentially one of the most competitive ones as five of the nine teams boast winning records.
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Meskwaki Settlement (11-3) has the best record at this point, but Gladbrook-Reinbeck (9-3), West Fork (10-4), AGWSR (9-5) and North Tama (9-5) could all compete for top seeds.
West Fork, which is in a battle for a conference title, has a long record of success in postseason play, so it would not be surprising to see the Warhawks emerge.
AGWSR opened the season with a seven-game winning streak before dropping five in a row, including losses to both Meskwaki and Gladbrook-Reinbeck. Since then, the Cougars have won two in a row.
CLASS 2A, DISTRICT 2
Analysis: Lake Mills (12-2) and Forest City (13-3) have the inside track for the top two seeds in the district. If both of these teams advance, it will be a hotly-contested district final. Lake Mills has the better record at this point in the season, but the Indians own a one-point victory over the Bulldogs. The two teams will play a rematch in February.
Pocahontas Area (8-5) has fallen off the pace with two recent losses, but when the Indians are on, they can post some pretty impressive offensive numbers.
CLASS 2A, DISTRICT 3
Analysis: South Hamilton (12-1) and Garner-Hayfield-Ventura (11-4) appear to be the class of this district, at least at the halfway point. The Hawks have dropped just one game thus far, a five-point defeat to a two-loss Gilbert team. The Cardinals have had some injury issues along the way, but they also own some solid victories and have the size on the front line to pose problems for most teams.
CLASS 2A, DISTRICT 4
Analysis: Four of the six teams in this district have winning records with a month to go in the season, so the seeding is up in the air.
Aplington-Parkersburg owns the best record at 11-3 and Osage is two games back at 10-5. The Green Devils have a difficult stretch of games looming during the remainder of the season, including games against Rockford and West Fork, and must finish strong to keep pace.
North Fayette Valley (9-4) and Crestwood (7-4) also have four losses on the season, and it's difficult to discount a traditional power like New Hampton (6-8), although the Chickasaws have been wildly inconsistent thus far.