Boys State Basketball Preview

It’s said there are no easy draws at the state basketball tournament.

Glenwood’s first round match up proves that adage correct.

The No. 4 seeded Rams (22-2) will face No. 5 seeded Norwalk (22-2) in the opening round at state Tuesday at 1 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Arena.

The Warriors, qualifying for their first state tournament since 2011, have won nine games in a row playing an up-tempo style that saw them lead all of Class 3A in scoring this season at just over 78 points per game, or about four points better than the No. 2 scoring team in the class: Glenwood.

In fact, high scoring offenses is just one of the many similarities between the two teams. Both enter 22-2 on eight-plus game winning streaks. Both have made more than 200 three-pointers, shoot better than 70 percent at the line and have three players averaging in double-figures.

“We have very similar styles,” said Glenwood coach Curt Schulte. “We both like to get out and run, to push things at you. We have identical records and they play very similar style to us and shoot the really ball well.”

The Warriors’ backcourt duo of Luke Vaske and Bowen Born is one of the best in the state. Vaske, a 6-foot senior, who has drawn interest from Division 1 mid-majors, leads in scoring at 19.6 points per game and Born, a 5-foot-10 sophomore, is averaging 18.9 points per game. The pair have combined for 107 three pointers on the year and both shoot better than 80 percent at the free throw line.

“They’re tough,” Schulte said of Vaske and Born. “They can really shoot the ball and have great quickness. Born is quick and athletic and he’s shooting 40 percent from behind the arc. Vaske is their point guard averaging 19 points and leading them in assists. Those two are pretty solid in the backcourt, no doubt.”

But the Warriors aren’t lacking in the size department either. Forwards Blake Johnson (6-foot-4) and Daniel Geistler (6-foot-6) and center Tyler Endres (6-foot-7) make a formidable front line. Johnson is the team’s top rebounder at 5.8 per game and a versatile scoring who drops in 10 points a night and has hit 37 three pointers this season. Geistler leads the team with 37 blocked shots.

Glenwood counters with a balanced scoring attack of its own, led by 6-foot-5 wing Christian Stanislav’s 15.7 points per game. In all, seven Rams are averaging better than five points per game and five have hit 20 three pointers this season, led by Nate Mohr’s 55 three’s.

Mohr, a Wayne State University signee and the Rams’ point guard, is averaging 14 points per game and leads the team in assists at 5.1 per game. Andrew Blum, a 6-foot-4 senior, is the Rams’ top front court player scoring 12.8 points per game and is the team’s leading rebounder at 6.9 per game.

Schulte isn’t likely to change up his team’s game plan much from what they’ve used all season: play defense, control the tempo, push the ball, play with space.

One number to keep an eye on in the game is defensive scoring average.

The Rams currently rank fifth in Class 3A on the defensive end giving up 48 points per game. The Warriors are 57th in the state, surrendering 63 points per game.

“That’s an area we can really get after them in the half court and force them to do things they don’t want to do,” Schulte said. “We want to limit their opportunities. We do that and it’d be huge for us on the defensive end.”

The Rams have had success in the post-season with “small ball” five of all-shooters on the floor to counter their relative lack of post-size and will likely deploy that line up at some point against the Warriors.

Despite the Rams making their first state tournament in three years and only having two players on the current roster with experience at Wells Fargo Arena, Schulte said he isn’t concerned about nerves being a factor.

“We have an advantage in that we are an experienced basketball team,” he said. “We’re senior led. We’ve been in a lot of big games the last three or four years. Obviously, it’s a bigger venue but I have the utmost confidence in this team. It’s natural there will be a few jitters but once they get rolling, they’ll be ready to play basketball.”

The Opinion-Tribune

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