About the team
What a season it has been. Last week at Wells Fargo Arena, two area schools made appearances at the state tournament. While Bishop Garrigan and Clear Lake both ultimately fell short, their accomplishments are to be admired. The Golden Bears powered through a tumultuous late-season coaching change to earn a spot, while the Lions won the first tournament game in school history.
Spring Break was this week for some area schools, and with it came a welcome breather for many high school athletes.
This week has felt like a new beginning in many ways. The snow is finally melting, and hints of spring are everywhere. But before we move forward, it's time to recognize the area basketball players who made their mark this season. There are many who were deserving, but we've pared it down to a Sweet Sixteen.
Collin Bleich, junior, Algona
Accolades: Class 3A Substate 2 All-Substate Team, NCC All-Conference 1st team
Key Stats: 344 points, 15 points per game, 56 3’s, 41.2 3PT%, 80.6 FT%,
-Bleich proved to be an accurate and deadly shooter this season on the court. He averaged an impressive 15 points per game, with a 45.3 field goal percentage. He had 56 3-pointers this season, by far the most on his team. The six-foot-two junior also had 54 assists, second-most on the team, and 26 steals.
TJ Schnurr, senior, Bishop Garrigan
Key Statistics: 435 points, 16.7 ppg, 249 rebounds, 54.8 FG%
Accolades: IPSWA Class 1A All-State 1st Team, Class 1A Substate 2 All-Substate Team, TOI West All-Conference 1st Team
Schnurr provided leadership for the Golden Bears during their late-season turmoil, and led the team in both points per game and total rebounds. Schnurr, also a football star for Bishop Garrigan, was never one to be outmuscled near the basket as he collected 249 rebounds on the season, 14th best in the state.
Jackson Molstead, senior, Charles City
Key Statistics: 28.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 6.8 apg, 2.2 spg, 47.2 fg%, 36.6 3p%
Accolades: IBCA All-Star, NE Iowa boys; IPSWA Class 3A All-State 1st Team; NEIC All-Conference 1st Team.
Molstead was one of North Iowa's most prolific players this season, becoming the state's third-leading scorer while posting impressive assist totals. The senior has always been a quality scorer, but he saw a steep increase in production this season, which made him Charles City's all-time leading scorer. Molstead will continue his career at Wartburg College.
Drew Enke, senior, Clear Lake
Key Stats: 356 points, 13.7 points game, 64.7 FT%, 136 total rebounds, 99 assists, 42 steals
Accolades: 3A Substate 2 All Sub-State Team, IPSWA 3A All-State 2nd Team
-Enke stepped into a team leadership role this season, and helped lead the team to its greatest season yet. The Lions were undefeated going into the state tournament, before losing their final two games. The senior led the team in scoring and points per game, was second in total rebounds, had the second-most assists on the team, and had a team-high 42 steals.
Tate Storbeck, senior, Clear Lake
Key Stats: 11.5 points per game, 300 points, 116 rebounds, 63.6 FT%
Accolades: 3A District 2 All Sub-state team, NCC All-Conference 1st team, NCC All-Conference 1st Team
Storbeck was the one of the Lions top two scorers, finishing with 300 total points on the season. He was a dangerous 3-point shooter, with 44 treys made. His size was also a weapon for Clear Lake, as he finished fifth on the team with 116 rebounds.
Avery Busta, senior, Forest City
Key Statistics: 11.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 6.3 apg, 3.2 spg, 42.8 fg%, 38.7 3p%.
Accolades: IPSWA Class 2A All-State 2nd Team; Class 2A Substate 1 All-Substate Team; Top of Iowa West Player of the Year; TOI West All-Conference 1st Team.
As far as pure point guards go, Busta might've been North Iowa's best this season. He wrapped up his career at Forest City with an 18-5 record, leading the team in assists while playing tight defense and shooting a high percentage from beyond the arc. Busta also does a good job of running the Indians' offense, as well as communicating with his teammates on the other side of the floor. His season garnered second-team all-state honors in Class 2A.
James Betz, senior, Garner-Hayfield-Ventura
Key Statistics: 18.5 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.9 bpg, 50.6 fg%, 35.1 3p%, 84.4 ft%.
Accolades: IBCA All-Star, NW Iowa boys; IPSWA Class 2A All-State 2nd Team; Class 2A Substate 2 All-Substate Team; TOI West All-Conference 1st Team.
Betz, a 6-foot-7 UNI commit, had another remarkable season to conclude his career at Garner-Hayfield-Ventura High School. Betz can score from just about anywhere on the court, and his size, speed and strength help him get to the free-throw line, where he converted on 84.4 percent of his attempts this season. His size advantage won't be as evident in college, but he's still a high-level athlete and a more-than-capable scorer.
Caleb Bacon, sophomore, Lake Mills
Key Statistics: 12.0 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 2.2 spg.
Accolades: TOI West All-Conference 1st Team
Bacon was a force inside for the Bulldogs as he averaged a double-double. A 6-foot-3 sophomore, Bacon led the North Iowa area with 10.6 rebounds per game to go with his 12 points per game. Bacon also led the Bulldogs in steals and was second in assists en route to earning first-team all-conference recognition. Bacon was second in the state in offensive rebounds, and had the second-highest rebounds per game total among sophomores in Iowa.
Chett Helming, junior, Lake Mills
Key Statistics: 16.4 ppg, 56.4 fg%, 1.3 bpg.
Accolades: TOI West All-Conference 1st Team.
Helming was the main offensive threat for a resurgent Lake Mills team that finished the season 16-6 and contended in the Top of Iowa Conference West Division until the waning days of the schedule. Helming, a 6-foot-5 wing who could score both inside and outside, averaged 16.4 points per game while shooting 56.4 from the floor. He led the Bulldogs in three-pointers made and blocked shots and was second in rebounding.
Josh Fitzgerald, senior, Newman Catholic
Key Statistics: 17.3 ppg, 2.3 apg, 2.2 apg, 58.5 fg%, 82.6 ft%.
Class 1A Substate 2 All-Substate Team; TOI East All-Conference 1st team.
Fitzgerald was the leading scorer for a 19-3 Newman Catholic team. The Knights were one of North Iowa's most athletic teams, and Fitzgerald headlined that group. In addition to being the Knights' leading scorer, the senior shot an astounding 58.5 percent from the floor, which is an incredible figure for a guard. He also connected on 82.6 percent of his free throws. Along with Brady Gatton, Fitzgerald was the only Knights player to total at least 100 assists and steals, combined.
Merritt McCardle, senior, Newman Catholic
Key Statistics: 14.2 ppg, 38.4 3p%, 63 made threes.
Accolades: TOI East All-Conference 1st Team.
McCardle was second in scoring for a Newman Catholic team that finished 19-3. McCardle, who had 63 3-pointers this season, finished his career as the Knights’ all-time leader in made treys. He shot better than 38 percent from long-range and added 42 steals while earning first-team all-conference honors.
Brett Bobinet, senior, Osage
Key Statistics: 14.7 ppg, 34.6 3p%, 2.7 apg, 2.2 spg.
Accolades: Class 2A Substate 2 All-Substate Team; First-team all-Top of Iowa Conference East Division.
Bobinet was a solid all-around performer for an Osage team that finished the season 14-8 overall. The senior guard led Osage in scoring, assists, steals and three-point shooting. He also was third on the team in both rebounding and blocked shots.
Collin Kramer, senior, Saint Ansgar
Key Statistics: 14.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 52.7 fg%.
Accolades: TOI East All-Conference 1st Team.
Kramer, a 6-foot-4 senior forward, led Saint Ansgar in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots. The senior not only averaged 14.5 points per game, he hauled in 7.5 boards, blocked better than three shots per contest and was second on the team in steals. Kramer shot 67.9 percent from the free-throw line on his team-leading 78 attempts.
Zach Martinek, senior, West Fork
Key statistics: 19.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.1 apg, 54.1 fg%, 44.4 3p%, 83.2 ft%
Accolades: IPSWA Class 1A All-State 1st Team; Class 1A Substate 5 All-Substate Team; Top of Iowa East Player of the Year; TOI East All-Conference 1st Team.
Martinek is one of North Iowa’s most well-rounded players. He has proven his ability to score at a high rate, while also grabbing more than five rebounds per game and leading his team in assists. His percentages from the field are remarkable, especially given his usage in West Fork’s offense. Martinek is a Morningside College commit and will look to make an impact at the next level.
Lucas Weiland, senior, West Hancock
Key Statistics: 14.1 ppg, 77.2 ft%, 3.5 apg, 2.3 spg.
Accolades: Class 1A Substate 2 All-Substate team; TOI West All-Conference 2nd Team.
Weiland, a 5-foot-11 senior, led the Eagles in several categories including scoring, three-pointers made, assists and steals. Weiland averaged 14.1 points per game and shot 34.5 percent on threes and 77.2 percent on free throws. Weiland’s performance earned him a spot on the Class 1A Substate 2 first team for the 10-13 Eagles.