WAPELLO, Iowa -- Ken Spielbauer has seen a lot of good basketball players pass through Wapello High School in his 34 years as the boys basketball head coach.
But he had no hesitation stating senior Trenton Massner is the best he's ever coached at the school.
“He’s very skilled and he’s also very athletic,” Spielbauer said. “He’s 6-2 and his arms measure a lot longer than 6-2.”
But Wapello still has an arsenal of talented players who have played a major role in leading the Indians to a 23-1 record and their first state tournament appearance since 1994.
Junior Keaton Mitchell averages 14 points per game, while seniors Logan Belzer and Gage Witte average 13.4 and 10.1 points per game, respectively. And they all do it on better than 45 percent shooting.
But they all know none of that would be possible without Massner, who provides the power for a Wapello team that has delivered so many knockout punches this season.
“He’s our main source,” Belzer said. “He’s such a good passer, shooter, and has vision, just everything you could ask for. He does everything for you basically. He just sets you up.”
Now both Wapello and Massner will continue their stellar season on the biggest stage Iowa high school basketball has to offer at the Wells Fargo Arena for the Class 2A state tournament.
After months of work after a disappointing 2017 season, the Indians reached their goal with a 55-46 win over Northeast in the substate championship.
But they know they’re capable of so much more.
“At first it was just kind of like ‘oh, we made it,’ and everyone thought that was it,” Massner said. “The first step was to make it there. Now that we made it it’s like ‘we actually have a shot to win this whole thing.’”
The road won’t be easy for Wapello after receiving the No. 8 seed, which players felt was a product of its perceived weak schedule. It will take on the No. 1 seeded Treynor (24-0) at 4:30 p.m. today at the Wells Fargo Arena.
“People didn’t think we could beat Goose Lake (Northeast) because their league was way better,” Massner said. “Everyone has kind of been down on the fact we can beat these other teams.
"If they’re going to keep doubting us we’re going to keep winning.”
The Indians relish the matchup with a team both players and coaches agreed is very similar to themselves.
“I think Treynor is a good matchup because we both have the same styles, and our stats between each player are pretty equal,” senior Sam Short said. “We need to get back on defense for sure because they do shoot from deep a lot, so we’ll need to get a hand up in their face.”
Both teams have only played three games apiece all season decided by single digits, and both are guard oriented with the ability to hit 3-pointers with a big man patrolling the paint.
Luke Clausen is averaging 17.5 points per game to lead Treynor, and Dillon Faubel is chipping in 14.5 points per game for Treynor. Jon Schwarte averages 9.1 points per game, but is shooting an astounding 71.6 percent from the field.
But as Short said, the Indians feel they can play with anybody, and that confidence is thanks in large part to their leader.
Massner is averaging 22.9 points per game, the exact same number as last season but on 61.9 percent shooting compared to 48.1 percent as a junior, which he feels is his biggest improvement.
He’s also adding 7.4 assists, 7.2 rebounds and 2.9 steals per game in his senior campaign.
“I’ve improved on getting everyone else involved and letting the game come to me,” Massner said. “I give up the ball more and I get so many easier looks because my teammates find me within the offense.”
Massner has taken his game, as well as his practice demeanor, to another level in the postseason.
"In practice he has taken more of a leadership role," Witte said. "He used to kind of sit back and let everybody else do the yelling and screaming. Now he’s trying to teach the younger kids, let them know what they need to do better.”
In his last three contests Massner is averaging 29.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.7 blocks per game.
“I’ve tried to be a leader more in the postseason because if we didn’t get to where we wanted to be, then it’s kind of on me,” Massner said. “I’m the point guard so I’m supposed to control everything out there.”
Massner and the Indians are exactly where they imagined they would be before the season. Now all that's left is for Wapello to finish the job, and that starts with a date with the top seed Monday.
"This whole community deserves a championship, especially since they’ve waited so long to make it back there," Belzer said. "And for Spiel (Spielbauer), he’s been coaching for so long we need to get him a championship to bring home in that trophy case."