Mt. Pleasant, Xavier open season with big game tonight
BY ANDY KRUTSINGER
Mt. Pleasant News
CEDAR RAPIDS — The road to Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines begins tonight (Mon.) with a huge matchup in Class 3A.
The Mt. Pleasant basketball team will play in their season opener on the road at Cedar Rapids Xavier, the defending state champions and the very team that knocked the Panthers out of the postseason last year.
Mt. Pleasant will be looking to show the state of Iowa that it belongs amongst the top-tier teams in Class 3A after coming one game away from the state tournament last season.
The Panthers took control of the Southeast Conference last year, with an 8-0 record, and cruised through the postseason until their substate matchup with Xavier in Iowa City.
Mt. Pleasant fell, 61-28, to the Saints at home in their season opener, but it was a different Panther team that gave Xavier all they could handle through three quarters.
The favored Saints led by just 11 points, at 47-36, after the first three periods. Mt. Pleasant had its opportunities in the fourth, but Xavier escaped with a 63-47 victory.
From there, the Saints made their way to the state championship game where they knocked off two-time defending state champion Dubuque Wahlert in the 3A title game.
Now, a hungry Mt. Pleasant team, led by 2015-16 All-State point guard Brady Sartorius, looks to make their mark on Class 3A against a Xavier team that brings back four a ton of talent from last season.
The Saints will be led by returning stars Max Techau (13.4 PPG), Matthew Mims (12.1 PPG), and Jackson Joens (10.3 PPG). They will be without two of their top five scorers from 2015-16, including leading scorer Mitchell Burger and Ryan Stulken, who scored 14 points in the substate win over Mt. Pleasant.
The Panthers will bring back four players who have started the last two seasons, including Sartorius (16.5 PPG), who scored 25 points against the Saints in the substate loss.
Jordan Magnani (10.4 PPG), Kieran Kohorst (9.2 PPG) and Colin Mulford (6.3 PPG) also return this year, along with Jonathan Ita (4.4 PPG), who was the Panthers’ first guy off the bench last season. The five are all juniors and were the top five scorers on the team in 2015-16.
Tonight’s game will also give the Panthers the chance to debut a handful of new and up-and-coming players, who may be able to help the core of junior stars this season.
The varsity game tonight will begin at 7:30 p.m., at Xavier High School in Cedar Rapids. Junior Varsity will play at 6 p.m.