Dallas Center-Grimes had the near-impossible task of following up a state championship with so many new faces stepping onto the court in 2022-23 on top of a promotion from Class 3A to 4A. Even with those compounding factors, the Mustangs extended to four straight winning seasons after wrapping the campaign at 14-10.
Now DCG heads into the 2023-24 season with a well-versed roster looking to make a big leap.
The Mustangs had three players average over 10 points per game last season: Hudson Ehlert (12.3 ppg), Jonathan Howard (11.6) and Calix Cahill (11.6). Only Ehlert is gone. He’s actually the only senior starter that is missing from the roster.
Together Cahill and Howard make the only returning pair in the Little Hawkeye that hit that 10-point threshold and they come with some great versatility that can cause headaches.
Cahill comes in as a 6-foot-5 center and his vertical advantage worked in spades, as he hauled in 8.2 rebounds per game, the top-ranked rebounder in the conference. And barring some newcomer stepping on his turf, few teams will be able to compete with the walking double-double’s chase-down ability around the glass. No other returning Little Hawkeye player averaged over 5.5 rebounds. He’s also the returning leader in shooting efficiency at a 55 percent field goal rate.
Toss the ball to Howard, and it’s a totally different advantage with a similar impact.
Howard comes into his senior campaign with a three-point rate of 44.7 percent. And that came in droves, as he averaged 5.1 shots beyond the arc as a fresh varsity player. He was effectively as strong everywhere else on the floor as his total shot efficiency was 44.8 percent, giving him a clear, green light to dial up from downtown.
But that sharp duo is hardly the only impact. The Class of 2024 has more depth in the form of Jaden Jones whose biggest asset is his vision and charity, leading the team with 3.5 assists per contest. And Jackson Green’s contributions can’t be understated, either. He held 6.6 points per game and shined in big moments like his 11 points against Waukee in the district championship.
Also, fresh off a record-breaking football season with the most interceptions in program history, junior Tate Perrin walks in with a clip of 7.1 points and 3.3 assists per game. His 3.08 assist-turnover ratio is the best-returning mark in the conference.
DCG was 3-3 in games decided by five points or fewer by last season, and 10-5 in blowout games. Compare that to the 4-1 and 15-1 marks in the championship season, respectively.
Season Opener Preview: ADM (Tuesday, Nov. 28)
These two met for a tight meeting in last year’s season debut as well, with the Mustangs coming out on top 48-46. That marked seven straight wins over the Tigers.
ADM was largely driven by a powerful big man in Vince Benetti who was one of 44 players to average double-double last season. He put up 18 points and 12 rebounds. The Tigers’ leading scorer from the last game with DCG is Ryhlan Stine-Smith with four points off the bench.
Last year’s game was a physical affair with the Tigers picking the Mustangs’ pockets 10 times, but it arguably came down to the foul stripe, as ADM shot under 50 percent.