Gehlen Catholic has traditionally been known as a football school, with 14 playoff appearances and one state championship. But basketball has Jays fans jumping, with a perfect record and a number-1 ranking.
The Gehlen Catholic boys are shooting over 50 percent on the season, haven't played a game closer than 17 points, and are beating their opponents by an average of over 26 points per game. It has all added up to an 12-0 record and the top ranking in Class 1A.
"It's kind of cool because basketball is my favorite sport," said senior center Colton Kneip. "I've always wanted that to be getting bigger around here. It feels good to be on that number one team."
Led by board-crashing big men Colton Kneip and Blake Wiltgen, the Jays are one of the top rebounding teams in Class 1A, averaging over 35 a game. But the senior duo will be the first to tell you that a team effort has pushed them to the top.
"Everybody just goes out there and plays," said Wiltgen. "We don't try to out-do each other. We just execute the plays and get easy buckets."
Number one isn't a position Gehlen is used to being in basketball. The Jays haven't been to the state tournament in 30 years and they've never won a tournament game. But they're hoping this year is a different story."
"We have to work hard all year, and hopefully we get a few breaks at tournament time," said Gehlen head coach Mike Langel. "There's some high-quality teams in Northwest Iowa. And any time you can get out of Northwest Iowa, it's a tough road."
With as much talent as there is for Gehlen to contend with, including third-ranked West Lyon in a possible substate showdown, the Jays know they'll need to keep a level head.
"Be disciplined and not intimidated when we get into those big games," said Langel.
But until they get to that position, it's baby steps for the Jays.
"A lot of people are watching us," said Kneip. "We've got to keep competing well, make sure we're doing the best we can and not slacking any game."
"We just try to take it one game at a time," said Wiltgen. "We look ahead a little but we just try to focus in practice everyday on the next team that comes up."
Gehlen will try to protect their number one ranking again when they visit River Valley on Friday.
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