Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
MAQUOKETA - The year was 2017. A sophomore-led New London boys basketball team blistered Lisbon 67-46 in the Substate final to advance to the first state basketball tournament in New London High School history. On Saturday, a new cast of Tigers will try to send the program back for a second trip.
New London (19-4) will take on an undefeated and fifth-ranked Easton Valley squad. The River Hawks come in to the game at 21-0.
New London made its way to the Class 1A Substate 4 final after three-straight wins by 11 points or fewer. The Tigers eked out a 44-40 win over Lisbon in the District 8 quarterfinals, beat Notre Dame 60-49 in the district semifinals, and won the district with a thrilling 71-68 overtime victory over No. 8 Springville.
The Tigers, of course, are sophomore-led once again. Blaise Porter leads the team in scoring, with 22.5 points per game, just over three points per game more than his older brother, Mason Porter, scored for that 2016-17 state tournament team in his sophomore season.
Kade Benjamin has been a force inside for the Tigers. The sophomore is second on the team with 18 points per game, and also pulls down a team-leading 8.9 rebounds per game.
Junior Devin Swanson came into New London's district final against Springville scoring 11.3 points per game, but nearly tripled that output with a 32-point performance.
The River Hawks dominated their first two games, beating North Cedar 63-43 in the District 7 quarterfinals, and blasting Prince of Peace 75-35 in the semis.
Easton Valley had all sorts of trouble with Wapello. The Indians nearly pulled the upset before the River Hawks could escape in a thriller, 50-48 in double overtime.
Easton Valley has a couple of towers down low. Six-foot-five senior forward Kaleb Cornilsen leads the team with 23.3 points per game and 9.9 rebounds per game. Six-foot-seven junior Cayden Deardorff is the team's third-leading scorer with 8.7 points per game. The six-foot-six Benjamin will look to slow that attack down.
Easton Valley's second-leading scorer is the couincidentally-named senior Porter Fuegen. He scores 13.8 points per game,
The two teams will meet up at Maquoketa High School, just 20 minutes from Easton Valley but an over two-hour jaunt from New London. The game will tip off at 4:30 p.m.