HomeBasketballBoys’ basketball postseason begins in earnest: Alburnett a threat in Class 2A

Boys’ basketball postseason begins in earnest: Alburnett a threat in Class 2A


Related stories


Alburnett Pirates guard Jordan Caton (3) and Alburnett Pirates guard Adam Neighbor (11) guard North Lynn Lynx forward Tate Haughenbury (30) as he passes off the ball in the third quarter of the game at North Linn High School in Troy Mills, Iowa on Friday, January 20, 2023. (Savannah Blake/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Put that question mark away. End the sentence with a period.

Or an exclamation point.

It’s not “Alburnett can make the boys’ state basketball tournament in Class 2A?”

It’s “Alburnett can make the boys’ state basketball tournament in Class 2A!”

“They’re not afraid to say it. Their goal is to get back to the state tournament,” Alburnett Coach Jeff Christopherson said. “They watched it when they were in middle school. That’s their goal. That’s the dream of every child in Alburnett.”

Christopherson has been around the school for multiple decades, built his program into a perennial Tri-Rivers Conference power. It broke through for the school’s first state tournament appearance in 2019, losing to Grand View Christian in the state championship game.

That was in Class 1A. Alburnett is a 2A school now and appears likely to remain there moving forward.

“In 2A, you are with 96 schools, I think it is,” Christopherson said. “In 1A, there are more schools, so you might have more disparity between the top schools and the bottom schools.

“For Class 2A, we’re going to get a first-round bye, but our first game will be against a quality opponent. We’ll play either West Liberty or Tipton, and we know both of those teams are going to be competitive. I think that’s kind of the way you look at it in 2A.”

This Alburnett team enters the postseason with an 18-3 record and on a heater, winning its final 14 regular-season games. That included a 52-45 win in January over North Linn, the top-ranked team in 1A.

The Pirates haven’t lost since Dec. 16, to Lansing Kee (another top-10 team in 1A) in overtime. There’s also a one-point loss to Maquoketa Valley on the ledger and a 14-pointer to North Linn.

“Christmas was great for us,” Christopherson said. “We were able to just get some things figured out offensively. I thought we were good enough defensively, there were just some things offensively to clean up. I thought we did a really nice job over Christmas at getting things figured out offensively, and since then, things have been good.”

Alburnett had two first-team all-Tri Rivers guards returning from last season in Braydon Osborn and Jordan Caton, and they’ve been all-conference good again. Junior forward Matthew Neighbor has increased his scoring average from 1.8 last season to 14.1 this season and has been the Pirates’ most consistent guy, Christopherson said.

Senior guard Payton Baker has been the team’s glue guy, averaging just 6.6 points per game but 7.0 assists, which ranks second in 2A.

“He is the one getting the ball to Matthew and Jordan and Braydon,” Christopherson said. “Then if we’re struggling a little bit, he’s perfectly capable of hitting a 3 or getting to the rim for us.”

Alburnett has a first-round district bye, hosting either Tipton or West Liberty in a second-round game Thursday. The second seed and the other first-round bye in District 10 belongs to Iowa City Regina.

First-round games in Class 1A and 2A are being played Monday night throughout the state.

“I’ve done this for so long, it’s like ‘Well, that’s where we’re at,’” Christopherson said with a laugh. “We’ve got to play who we’ve got to play. Our goal is to get to Des Moines. That’s everybody’s goal right now. We’re 0-0, and everyone else is 0-0.”

Class 1A boys’ basketball district first-round games


BGM (7-14) at North Tama (7-11)

Central City (9-12) at Lisbon (11-10)

Clayton Ridge (4-17) at South Winneshiek (13-8)

East Buchanan (5-16) at Maquoketa Valley (17-4)

Edgewood-Colesburg (4-18) at Turkey Valley (12-10)

Elkader Central (5-15) at Starmont (4-18)

English Valleys (3-20) at Keota (21-0)

Highland (3-18) at North Linn (19-1)

HLV (5-15) at Gladbrook-Reinbeck (17-5)

Iowa Valley (9-13) at Belle Plaine (15-6)

Lone Tree (6-15) at Hillcrest Academy (14-7)

Midland (6-15) at Bellevue (10-10)

North Cedar (8-13) at Calamus-Wheatland (14-7)

Sigourney (13-8) at Danville (14-7)

Springville (11-10) at Clinton Prince of Peace (13-8)

Tri-County (1-21) at Fort Madison Holy Trinity (16-5)

Tripoli (1-20) at Lansing Kee (19-2)

Twin Cedars (6-11) at Montezuma (14-7)


Alta-Aurelia at Ar-We-Va

Audubon at Panorama

Boyden-Hull at Le Mars Gehlen

Boyer Valley at South O’Brien

Clarksville at Don Bosco

Collins-Maxwell at Baxter

Conrad BCLUW at Ankeny Christian

Council Bluffs St. Albert at Oakland Riverside

Easton Valley at Bellevue Marquette

Essex at Woodbine

Fremont-Mills at Tri-Center

Garwin GMG at Colo-NESCO

Glidden-Ralston at Anita CAM

Griswold at Coon Rapids-Bayard

Harris-Lake Park at George-Little Rock

Heartland Christian at Exira-EHK

Lamoni at Lynnville-Sully

Lenox at Stanton

Logan-Magnolia at Westwood

Martensdale-St. Mary’s at Guthrie Center ACGC

Mormon Trail at Earlham

Moulton-Udell at North Mahaska

Murray at Southeast Warren

Nashua-Plainfield at Janesville

New London at Winfield-Mount Union

Nodaway Valley at East Mills

North Butler at Waterloo Christian

Northwood-Kensett at Saint Ansgar

Pekin at WACO

Riceville at Mason City Newman

Rockford at West Fork

Ruthven GTRA at Fort Dodge St. Edmond

Sibley-Ocheyedan at North Union

Sidney at Bedford

Siouxland Christian at Remsen St. Mary’s

Southwest Valley at Mount Ayr

Trinity Christian at Newell-Fonda

Wapello at Burlington Notre Dame

Wapsie Valley at Dunkerton

Wayne at Moravia

West Bend-Mallard at Lake Mills

West Hancock at Algona Garrigan

West Harrison at Marcus MMCRU

West Monona at IKM-Manning

Woodbury Central at Akron-Westfield

Woodward Academy at Madrid

Class 2A boys’ basketball district first-round games


Dyersville Beckman (5-16) at Anamosa (9-10)

Eldon Cardinal (2-20) at Mid-Prairie (11-9)

New Hampton (2-18) at North Fayette Valley (18-3)

Oelwein (8-14) at Union Community (10-11)

Waukon (6-14) at Postville (13-8)

West Liberty (7-14) at Tipton (8-13)


Avoca AHSTW at Clarinda

Belmond-Klemme at Forest City

Camanche at Northeast

Centerville at Albia

Central Springs at Garner GHV

Clarion CGD at Dike-New Hartford

Colfax-Mingo at Pleasantville

Crestwood at Denver

Durant at Wilton

East Marshall at Iowa Falls-Alden

Greene County at Manson-Northwest Webster

Interstate 35 at Central Decatur

Louisa-Muscatine at Central Lee

Mapleton MVAOCOU at Ridge View

Missouri Valley at Ida Grove OABCIG

Monroe PCM at Ogden

Okoboji at Rock Valley

Pocahontas Area at Hinton

Sheldon at Spirit Lake

Shenandoah at Red Oak

Sioux Central at Cherokee

Southeast Valley at Eagle Grove

Van Buren at Mediapolis

Waterloo Columbus at Sumner-Fredericksburg

West Central Valley at Woodward-Granger

West Marshall at South Hardin

West Sioux at Central Lyon

Comments: (319)-398-8258, jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

- Never miss a story with notifications

- Gain full access to our premium content

- Browse free from up to 5 devices at once

Latest stories



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here