Breaking Down the Class 4A State Boys Basketball Tournament


Jeff Yoder Photo /

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

The Matchups

No. 2 West High (19-4) vs. Muscatine (16-8)

State tournament regular and defending champion West High opens its title defense against a Muscatine team making its first state appearance since 2002.

West High is making its eighth consecutive trip to state and has won its opening round game in each of its previous seven state tournament appearances.

The Trojans have appeared in five of the past six 4A title games winning four championships during that span.

This year’s West High squad is 17-2 against in-state competition with losses to 4A qualifier Cedar Falls and fifth-ranked Dubuque Senior.

Led by one of the top scorers in state history in Wieskamp, Muscatine is making its second state tournament appearance since 1960 and first since 2002.

The Muskies are seeking their first state tournament win since the 1954 state title game.

An Iowa recruit, Wieskamp is the top scorer and rebounder in the 4A field at 33.7 points and 13.5 rebounds per game.

No. 9 Waukee (19-4) vs. No. 7 Johnston (20-3)

The lone quarterfinal to feature a regular season rematch should be a good one between a pair of CIML rivals.

Waukee won the regular season meeting with Johnston 54-49 back on January 16 and enters the rematch with the Dragons seeking its first state tournament win in program history. 

The Warriors are making their seventh state tournament appearance but have never gotten past the quarterfinals.

Waukee is one of the most balanced teams in the 4A field with three players averaging better than 10.8 points per game led by Nathan Johnson at 12.2 per contest.

Johnston is perhaps the hottest team in 4A bringing a 10-game winning streak into the state tournament.

The Dragons edged third-ranked Des Moines North 87-79 in overtime in the substate finals to return to state for the first time since 2009.  

Johnston features four players averaging in double figures led by senior point guard Boston Grimes (15.5) and senior wing Camden Vander Zwaag (14.7).

North Scott (20-3) vs. West Des Moines Valley (16-7)

One of these teams will get a rare early exit as both teams have reached the state title game in their most recent trip to the state tournament.

Defending runner-up West Des Moines Valley has played for the state title three times in the last four years winning a championship in 2016 while North Scott won the title in its last appearance in 2015.

Valley was 6-7 midway through January but has won its last 10 games, including a 34-31 substate final upset of top-ranked Des Moines Hoover to return to the state tournament.

North Scott followed a similar path to the state tournament.

The Lancers have won eight in a row following back-to-back January losses to Davenport Assumption and Pleasant Valley including a 53-52 upset of fifth-ranked Dubuque Senior in the substate finals.

Don’t expect a lot of points in this one.

North Scott ranked second in 4A this season in defensive average, holding opponents to 43.1 points per game while Valley is allowing just 48.8 points per game and is giving up just 41.1 game during its current 10-game winning streak.

No. 4 Cedar Falls (18-5) vs. No. 6 Sioux City East (19-3)

If offense is your thing this is the opening round match to catch as the two top scoring teams in the field square off in a quarterfinal.

A semifinalist a season ago, Sioux City East returns to state as the second-highest scoring team in 4A this season at 74.4 points per game.

The Black Raiders feature one of the top scoring duos in the 4A field in senior forward Van Rees (17.7 ppg) and junior guard Aidan Vanderloo (16.7 ppg).

Cedar Falls is making its second state tournament appearance in three seasons after reaching the semifinals in 2016.

The Tigers are the second highest scoring team in the 4A field averaging 69 points per game.

Leading the way for Cedar Falls is senior guard AJ Green, a Northern Iowa recruit that averages 25.9 points per game.

Cedar Falls has won 15 of its last 17 games following a 3-3 start to the season with wins over state qualifiers West High, Cedar Rapids Xavier and Waverly-Shell Rock in that stretch.

The Players

WEST HIGH: Patrick McCaffery, 6-9, Jr. Iowa commit has had his best season yet as a junior averaging 20.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

MUSCATINE: Joe Wieskamp, 6-6, Sr. One of the best in state history, Wieskamp ends an impressive career at the state tournament after averaging 33.7 points and 13.5 rebounds per game as a senior.

WAUKEE: Dylan Jones, 6-8, Jr. Versatile forward averages 10.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and leads the Class 4A field with 57 blocked shots.

JOHNSTON: Boston Grimes, 6-0, Sr. Point guard leads the Dragons in scoring at 15.5 points per game and his 4.5 assists per game are second most among 4A state qualifiers.

NORTH SCOTT: Corvon Seales, 6-3, Sr. Rangy guard leads is the Lancers’ top scorer while averaging 4.5 rebounds and a team-high three assists per game.

WEST DES MOINES VALLEY: Blake Brinkmeyer, 6-7, Sr. Indiana State recruit averages 7.4 points and a team-leading 6.9 rebounds per game.

CEDAR FALLS: AJ Green, 6-3, Sr. Among the most electric scorers in the state, the Northern Iowa recruit averaged 15.9 points per game while shooting 49 percent from 3-point range.

SIOUX CITY EAST: Aidan Vanderloo, 6-2, Jr. Sharpshooting guard shot 55 percent from 3-point range while averaging 16.7 points per game.

The Favorite

As long as West High is in the 4A field it is going to be among the favorites to wear the 4A crown and this season is no exception.

The defending 4A champ, West High is seeking its fifth 4A title in the past seven seasons this week.

West High has shown flashes of dominance this season but lost twice to Iowa foes in 2018 and needed a late surge to hold off Cedar Rapids Kennedy 49-40 in a substate final.

The Trojans will need to be at their best to emerge from a balanced 4A field but has the talent and veteran coaching staff that makes them the favorite to add another state title.

The Darkhorse

It seems a little odd for a defending state champion to have the underdog label but that’s the situation for seventh-seeded West Des Moines Valley (16-7).

Don’t let the seven losses fool you, the Tigers aren’t a typical seven seed.

Valley has won 10 straight games enter the state tournament and has the firepower and experience to return to the championship game for the fourth time in five seasons.

The Focus

Are we setting up for Round 4 between West High and West Des Moines Valley?

The two perennial powers appear on opposite sides of the 4A bracket making a fourth title game meeting in the past five seasons a possibility.

West High defeated Valley in the state title game in 2014 and last season and the Tigers won the 4A title with a win over West High in 2016.

Both teams face hurdles before a possible fourth finals matchup, starting with an opening round test for Valley against North Scott, the only team other than Valley and West to win a 4A title in the past six seasons.

The Facts

*- North Scott leads the Class 4A field in points allowed, holding opponents to 43.1 points per game, six points fewer than any other 4A qualifier.

* - West High senior forward Seybian Sims ranks second in the state in field goal percentage at 75.8 percent this season going 135-of-178 from the floor.

* - Muscatine senior Joe Wieskamp has accounted for 56 percent of the Muskies points this season, averaging 33.7 points per game, tops in the 4A field.

* - Cedar Falls senior AJ Green leads the state in 3-point field goals this season with 105 and shot 49.1 percent from beyond the arc.

* - West High is shooting 54.3 percent from the field which ranks fourth in the state and is tops in Class 4A.

The Schedule

Tuesday’s Quarterfinals

West High (19-4) vs. Muscatine (16-8), 6:30 p.m.

Waukee (19-4) vs. Johnston (20-3), 8:15 p.m.

Wednesday’s Quarterfinals

North Scott (20-3) vs. West Des Moines Valley (16-7), 10:30 a.m.

Cedar Falls (18-5) vs. Sioux City East (19-3), 12:15 p.m.

Thursday’s Semifinals

West High/Muscatine winner vs. Waukee/Johnston winner, 6:30 p.m.  

North Scott/West Des Moines Valley winner vs. Cedar Falls/Sioux City East winner, 8:15 p.m.

Friday’s Championship

Semifinal winners, 8:15 p.m.