From the tip, a jumping good night

By Paul D. Bowker
Posted 2/5/23

Dylan Henry arrived at the center circle and just looked up.

The Mid-Prairie junior is a forward and a guard for the Golden Hawks boys basketball team. He is 6 feet, 2 inches. The size of a good …

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From the tip, a jumping good night


Dylan Henry arrived at the center circle and just looked up.

The Mid-Prairie junior is a forward and a guard for the Golden Hawks boys basketball team. He is 6 feet, 2 inches. The size of a good guard.

But on this night in Wilton, Jan. 27, as a jump ball was to begin the Golden Hawks game against Wilton, he looked up and stared into the eyes of Wilton’s Caden Kirkman, a 6-foot-7 scoring and rebounding machine. He’s the leading scorer in Iowa Class 2A and one of the top rebounders. He already has committed to playing college hoops at the University of Augustana, an NCAA DII school in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

And let’s just say, 6-foot-8. I mean, really.

It may as well have been Zach Edey, a 7-foot-4 monster center for Purdue University and one of the top rebounders in the country.

Jump ball? When the other guy is a half foot taller?

“I didn’t really have much hope going into it,” Henry said later.

“I don’t think it mattered who we put out there,” Mid-Prairie head coach Daren Lambert said. “They were probably going to get the hand on it. You’ve just got to go fight as the ball is bouncing around or just get a stop in that first part.”

Well, the ball didn’t bounce around much. Just from Kirkman’s tip back to a teammate. And the Golden Hawks did make a defensive stop on that first possession.

Game on.

Kirkman, who scored 40 points in a game earlier this season, put on another 32-point show. He scored the game’s first basket. And the second. He scored the Beavers’ first 10 points, twice on offensive rebounds. And that was before the slam-dunk display powered up later in the game.

“You have to put your whole game plan into defending him,” Henry said. “And you still can’t really stop him. He’s pretty good.”

Ace Peck, a Mid-Prairie sophomore guard, faked Kirkman out of his shoes when he put a move on him and then dribbled around him to hit a 3-pointer to give the Golden Hawks a two-point lead.

And later in the game, as the crowd began to roar when Kirkman moved in for a slam, but then opted for a layup and missed the layup, the entertainment value itself took another uptick. They’re filling the gymnasium these days in Wilton with Kirkman’s basketball magic in the very same way that 2022 Mid-Prairie graduate Carter Harmsen did last year for the Golden Hawks and their unbeaten River Valley Conference championship team.

Remember those days?

In two meetings between Mid-Prairie and Wilton last year, Kirkman had double-doubles in both games. But the Golden Hawks won both games. Harmsen scored 24 points in one of the wins. Harmsen and Kirkman were No. 1 and 2 in both scoring and rebounding last year in the River Valley South, with Harmsen winning the scoring title and Kirkman winning the rebounding title.

Utilizing a smaller lineup this year, the Golden Hawks are playing faster and smaller.

“With a smaller lineup, we were able to spread it out on the offensive end and pull Kirkman away from the rim a little bit to just try and make things easier for us,” Lambert said. “I thought we did a good job.”

The play on the court spread out so much that Kirkman, at times, wasn’t even guarded. He didn’t set up shop in the paint. The ball spun around the perimeter so much that both teams combined for 22 3-pointers. Kirkman had one.

At the end of the night, Wilton’s outside shooting heated up. Combine that with Kirkman’s domination above the rim, and game over.

Kirkman’s final act was a thunderous slam with 1:23 remaining.

“He’s grown,” Lambert said. “He’s gotten better since last year.”

And, ha, maybe next time, Henry gets to jump against a 6-2 guy.

News columnist Paul Bowker can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @bowkerpaul

Mid-Prairie, Wilton, basketball, Caden Kirkman


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