The Best of the Best

Several weeks ago, as I was walking out of the Ames gym after the Little Cyclones routed the Mason City Mohawks, 85-42, a question popped up in my mind.

Does the 2009-10 Ames team belong in the elite group of great teams in Iowa prep basketball, if they win the 4-A title next month?

It’s a fair question.  Over the past few years, I have started to wane from ranking who’s #1, #2, or #10 when it comes to the best teams I’ve seen, read, or heard about.  There’s too much frustration and argument over who is “the best” of all time, decade, generation, or in the last half of the 20th Century.  There is no doubt to me that Ames, given their long-standing basketball tradition (7 state titles) will end up on this list, granted if they don’t lose next week at the boys state tournament.

There are so many powerhouse-laden teams since the state tournaments were started in 1923.  Davenport (now Central Davenport), Ames, Dubuque Wahlert, East Waterloo, and Marshalltown and Mason City, to name a few from the big schools.  Palmer (now Palmer-Pomeroy), Clinton St. Mary’s, Iowa City Regina, and Hull Western Christian is a small sample of the small schools.

The 1947-48 Davenport H.S. Blue Devils. Courtesy of David Kusel from davidkusel.com

The players range from Bill Logan (Keokuk), Randy Kraayenbrink (Paullina), Art Sathoff (Iowa Falls), Dean Oliver (Mason City), Brian Pearson and Troy Skinner (Palmer), and Jason Bohannon (Linn-Mar).  Coaches include Glenn Strobridge (West Waterloo), the late Dennis Theissen (Bettendorf, C.R. Prairie, Iowa City High), Jeff Vanderloo (East Sioux City), and Jim Squiers (Marquette Bellevue Cathlolic).

So many names, so many teams, so much tradition and memories.

What was your all-time favorite moment at the state tournament?  What team, player, or coach were you looking forward to see in Vets or at Wells Fargo?  And, if Ames win their 2nd straight title, do they belong in the list of elite state championship teams with Palmer, Davenport Central, and Union Christian of Orange City?

Or how do they compare with the six previous state champions from Ames (’36, ’45, ’55, ’73, ’76, and ’91)?

From 1955 to 2005, Vets Auditorium was the home of the Iowa High School state tournaments.
From 1955 to 2005, Vets was the home of the Iowa high school state tournaments.

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One thought on “The Best of the Best

  1. I’ll start first, since everyone is hesitant to comment.

    My lasting experience was my first ever trip to Vets for the state tournament in 1990. Chris Street of Indianola, Brian Keuter and Byron Young of City High, Todd Harrington of North Davenport, and Mike Davis and his merry band of Trojans from East Waterloo all played that week.

    It culminated on that St. Patrick’s Day night when East rallied from behind late in the game, and beat City in overtime, 89-84 to win the 3-A title.

    Yes, there was 4 classes (3-A to Class A), until the classes were reclassified from 4-A to 1-A in 1993.

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