TRAER - Mitchell Boerm, Nolan Hefty and Skyler Kvidera all took their turns guarding Ankeny Christian Academy's Ben Taylor in practice last week.
Well, at least an acting version of him.
And while it's not quite the same as the real thing, few teams in Class 1A can accurately simulate it the way the North Tama can - with all three members of the Redhawks' rangy frontcourt playing the role of the Eagles' 6-foot, 7-inch double-double post man.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
From left, North Tama seniors Mitchell Boerm (6-foot-5), Skyler Kvidera (6-6) and Nolan Hefty (6-6) highlight an imposing frontcourt for the Redhawks. The sixth-ranked Redhawks boast the tallest lineup in the Class 1A field for this week’s Iowa Boys State Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. North Tama faces unranked Ankeny Christian Academy at 3:45 p.m. in today’s quarterfinals.
Even fewer can simulate preparing for North Tama's lofty lineup.
With eight players standing 6-2 or taller, including Boerm (6-5), Hefty (6-6) and Kvidera (6-6) manning the paint, the Redhawks are a rare breed altogether.
"You can't coach size," North Tama coach Brandon Clubb said. "It's nice to have three big guys that you can do multiple things with. You can play two at the same time or all three and move Mitchell over to the 3.
Iowa Boys State Basketball Tournament
At Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines
Monday, March 4
Danville (25-0) vs. Wapsie Valley (17-8), 10:30 a.m.
Storm Lake St. Mary's (24-1) vs. Riverside, Oakland (24-1), 12:15 p.m.
Lone Tree (25-1) vs. Boyden-Hull (22-3), 2 p.m.
North Tama (25-1) vs. Ankeny Christian Academy (24-1), 3:45 p.m.
Thursday, March 7
Danville or Wapsie Valley vs. Storm Lake St. Mary's or Riverside, Oakland, 10:30 a.m.
Lone Tree or Boyden-Hull vs. North Tama or Ankeny Christian Academy, 12:15 p.m.
Friday, March 8
Semifinal losers, 10 a.m.
Friday, March 8
Semifinal winenrs, 6:05 p.m.
"Not a lot of coaches can say they have that much size, it's great."
It's just not so great for the Eagles, who after Taylor (16.5 ppg, 12.0 rpg) - have just two other players measuring 6-2 or taller with sophomore Damon Stubbs (6-2) and freshman Bradley Fisher (6-4).
Keeping fresh legs on the floor and avoiding foul trouble are just two other benefits that North Tama's sizable assets afford them.
"It helps in the game, because you can take breaks and have another person guard him and just keep throwing healthy, energized bodies at him," said Boerm of guarding another team's big guy.
That strategy paid dividends against Dunkerton's Kory Kuenstling (6-9) and Gladbrook-Reinbeck's Zach Pierce (6-4), both of whom ran into foul trouble against the Iowa Star Conference South Division champs.
That problem has rarely bothered the Redhawks, who've had just three foul-outs all season with two coming in their only loss at Jesup.
Taylor has 80 fouls on the year and fouled out four times this season, while picking up his fourth foul on six other occasions. While the senior has 103 blocks - ranking third in Class 1A - that aggressiveness could play into the hands of the Redhawks, who are used to waging intense battles inside on a daily basis.
"We bang around in practice all the time and it's kind of roughhouse, so it's nothing new when we get to the game," Boerm said.
Whether it's a gaining a defensive stoop, drawing a foul or securing the rebound - the presence of North Tama's towering trio is invaluable in jumpstarting the offense.
"Getting a stop or getting a rebound, that's what starts our offense because we want to get it out right there," Clubb said. "That's how we start our offense."
Starting point guard Jacob Wrage is just one of the beneficiaries of the Redhawks' paint patrol.
"They clean up the boards well," Wrage said. "It's wonderful to have three big guys."
Though North Tama will have the overall height advantage, they're not letting it distract them from the other dangerous weapons on the Eagles' roster.
"(Taylor) kills it inside and they have good guards who can drive and shoot the 3," Boerm said of ACA's JJ Waddle (13.8 ppg, 31 3-pointers) and Stubbs (13.4 ppg, 54 3-pointers). "They've got the inside and outside game."
The Eagles, who have made 141 3-pointers on the year - ranking 12th in Class 1A - will try to stretch the floor against North Tama's longer lineup.
Though regardless of position, height or matchup, the Redhawks will rely on their tried and true pedigree: playing good, hard-nosed defense - together.
"We're a close-knit group and we trust each other as a team," Boerm said. "Defense is what got us to state and hopefully defense is what keeps us going at state."