The State Boys’ Basketball Tournament begins next week at Wells Fargo Arena and for the first time since 1996, the Oskaloosa Indians will be present.
The hype for this team all season has been State-Or-Bust, but now that they’re there, the Osky faithful would love to see them grab a win to move one step closer to a state championship.
It has been a while since the Indians have been at state, but their first opponent overcame an even longer drought last year during an improbable run.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton ended a 77-year state tourney drought in 2017 as they entered the action at Wells Fargo Arena with a record of 15-9. Their first opponent was Little Hawkeye Conference team Pella, who came into the tournament as the #3 seed.
Those facts are eerie, as SB-L comes in once again on a roll, entering The Well with a 15-9 record. They are once again playing a Little Hawkeye Conference team with over 20 wins in Oskaloosa, who happens to be the #3 seed.
Oskaloosa hopes the identical comparisons stop there, as the Warriors upset Pella in the quarterfinals last season, 66-55, ending the state title hopes for the Dutch.
Six seniors have departed from Sergeant Bluff-Luton since last year, including the two leading scorers from that magical run. SB-L eventual would lose in the state championship game to Cedar Rapids Xavier, 54-49.
The hunger to get back along with excellent play down the stretch has led to another surprising state appearance for a team that hadn’t broken through the glass ceiling for multiple generations.
Despite a fairly modest 15-9 record, analytical site BCMooreRankings.com has SB-L ranked 9th in Class 3A, sporting the 6th toughest schedule of all 3A teams. Their participation in the rugged and large Missouri River Athletic Conference certainly helped them in the postseason.
By contrast, Oskaloosa goes into the tournament ranked #4 by BCMoore with just the 31st toughest schedule in the state. The Indians have played well against new foes, however, as their only loss against a team they were playing for the first time was on the road against Dubuque Wahlert in overtime back on January 13th.
If you’re curious, the top three teams ahead of Oskaloosa in the BCMoore rankings are Cedar Rapids Xavier, Mount Pleasant, and Glenwood, all of whom are at state. Xavier and MP are the #1 and #2 seed, while Glenwood is seeded 4th.
The game is slated to begin at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, March 6th. You can hear the broadcast from Wells Fargo Arena starting around 3:30 PM on 99.5 FM/740 AM KMZN, radiokmzn.com, and the KMZN mobile app. Emery Songer and Doug DeKock will be calling the action.
The winner of the battle between Osky and SB-L will move into the state semifinals Thursday afternoon against either Mount Pleasant or Waverly-Shell Rock.