RSM to face mirror image in Lynnville-Sully

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Remsen St. Mary’s (25-0) vs. Lynnville-Sully (22-3) Monday, March 5, 2:45 p.m.

In Monday’s 1A state quarterfinal game between third-seeded Remsen St. Mary’s and sixth-seed Lynnville-Sully, the two teams appear to be about as evenly matched as possible. Even their mascots are identical with both fashioning the name Hawks.

“It’s almost like looking in the mirror,” RSM Head Coach Scott Ruden said. “If you look at the stats, we’re identical. It’s really an even match. They’re probably going to be the first team that matches our size in all positions, in fact they are bigger.”

Looking at the two teams on paper gives a glimpse into how similar they are at least statistically. Overall Lynnville-Sully scores a few more points per game and shoots slightly better from the outside while RSM scores a bit less, but also holds their opponents to the second fewest of the 1A state teams.

Defense has been a key all season for RSM as they are holding their opponents to under 40 points per contest. The most impressive feat might be the fact that RSM has clamped down the last few games, holding district final opponent Kingsley-Pierson and substate final foe IKM-Manning to just 23 points apiece, tying for the fewest points allowed by the team all season.

“We’ve made some improvements to our defense going into districts,” Nicholas Ruden said. “I feel like our team this year is way better defensively than last year. We connect together. We all know what everyone else is thinking which is great.”

Lynnville-Sully enters at the middle of the pack in terms of points per game among state qualifiers, but just like RSM, they are extremely balanced.

Jesse Van Wyk is the team’s leading scorer with a 14.5 points per game average. The 6-foot-3 senior is also the team’s leading rebounder and shot blocker while tied for most assists. Van Wyk will mostly stick close to the basket and can also do damage at the charity stripe where he makes nearly 80 percent of his shots.

6-foot-5 Tanner Foster averages just under 13 points per game. He is a bit more of a threat to shoot from the perimeter as well. Foster may be a player the team looks to foul to send to the free-throw line if necessary as he is shooting around 58 percent at the line, one of the lowest percentages on the team.

Brevin Hansen is the team’s leading 3-point shooter and averages 12 points a game with a 42.5 percent success rate from beyond the arc. Hansen leads the team with 60 steals and is also towards the top on the team in assists with 82.

6-foot-3 Rylan James will take almost all his shots from inside with a 53.6 percent field goal mark as he averages just under nine points per game. He is the second-leading rebounder for the team.

Tyson Vander Linden adds seven points per contest and is tied with Van Wyk for most assists with 85.

Coach Ruden said Lynnville-Sully will have a bit of a height advantage all the way around. They are the second-leading rebounding team of the 1A state teams behind George-Little Rock while RSM has the fewest of the eight qualifiers.

“They’re big,” Ruden said. “It looks like they run man-to-man which we haven’t seen in four games so we’re tickled to death that maybe we’ll get to see some man-to-man defense. Maybe they’re a little taller and a little bit more meatier, but we’re maybe a shade quicker. It’s hard to tell on film, but I’m hoping we have some advantage with some speed.”

The towns of Lynnville and Sully are located just under an hour east of Des Moines, south of I-80. Both teams are making back-to-back trips to state. RSM ended with three games down at Wells Fargo Arena last year while Lynnville-Sully was bounced by Gladbrook-Reinbeck, the eventual state runner-up, 53-50 in the quarterfinals.

Overall, Lynnville-Sully holds more state tournament experience as this will be their 14th overall trip, while just the second for RSM. The team is 9-16 at the state tournament with their best finish being a runner-up ending in 1997, the fourth of a string of four consecutive trips to the tournament.

While both RSM teams have entered the tournament undefeated, this year’s team differs a little bit from last year. While Nicholas Ruden remains as the team’s leading scorer both years, the cast of sidekicks is different. Spencer Schorg fills a similar role to that of Jacob Wesselmann from last year as the team’s leading 3-point threat. Brody Ricke has stepped up into more of a scoring role, averaging just shy of 11 points per game after scoring less than four last season. Derrick Schorg and Carter Kuchel are experienced veterans who have seen their roles and scoring increase.

Ricke sees the team’s balanced scoring as an advantage heading into the tournament.

“We just share the ball really well,” Ricke said. “We’ve been playing together since we were in third grade, so I think that helps a whole lot. It’s a huge advantage if somebody gets taken out we’ve got another guy to step up. It could be a different guy every night. They never know who to guard and who’s going to go off and score.”

RSM is still trying to get everything to click on offense, something Coach Ruden said the team has only done a few games this season.

“Maybe not quite as good offensively as we were last year, but we’ve got guys that can still score,” Ruden said. “There’s four guys on the floor that can score 15 points in a game. We’re kind of balanced that way.”

If RSM can maintain their defensive prowess while cashing in on a few more buckets, they will be a tough team to beat in Des Moines.

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