ELDRIDGE — For each of the past eight seasons, there has been at least one member of the Seales family playing a prominent role for North Scott's boys basketball team.
Cortez Seales, the school’s career scoring leader with 1,392 points and now at the University of North Dakota, steered the Lancers to a state championship in his senior season.
Corvon Seales, a member of the title team in 2015, was a three-year starter for North Scott and is in his first year at Division II Minnesota State-Mankato.
Cortaviaus Seales, the last of the three boys, is wrapping up an all-conference senior season with North Scott this week at the Class 4A state tournament.
“It’d be good to get a (championship) ring like those two and get a ring with this group here,” Cortaviaus said. “It would be a great way to end our legacy at North Scott.”
North Scott (22-1) begins its quest with a Tuesday night quarterfinal against Ames inside Wells Fargo Arena. The second-seeded Lancers believe they’re more seasoned and equipped to handle the state stage this year.
After last Tuesday’s substate final win against Cedar Rapids Prairie, it was a talking point in the locker room.
Coach Shamus Budde asked his team why it wasn’t successful in last year’s state quarterfinal against West Des Moines Valley. The players immediately said they weren’t mentally ready or tough enough for that environment.
With three seniors and two juniors in the starting lineup this winter, the Lancers are eager for another crack.
“We have a lot to prove because we have high expectations,” senior Carson Rollinger said. “We’re going in there with confidence and thinking we can make some noise in the state tournament.”
Cortaviaus is a significant reason for that.
Cortez was an immediate contributor at the varsity level. Corvon was the team’s second-leading scorer as a sophomore. Cortaviaus, the shortest of the three at 5-foot-11, has been a late bloomer.
The point guard saw limited minutes off the bench as a sophomore. He was a starter on last year’s team, and has evolved into a well-rounded player this season.
Cortaviaus is North Scott’s top scorer (14.8 ppg.), second-best 3-point threat (40 percent), second in rebounding (4.2 per game), second in assists (2.5 per game) and first in steals (35).
“He brings a lot of energy,” junior post Ty Anderson said. “He gets after it in practice and plays hard all the time.”
More than Cortaviaus’ statistical improvement, the biggest growth has come between the ears.
Budde said he’s seen rapid progress in that area during the season. Early in the year, Budde said Cortaviaus would react poorly to a bad call, missed shot or somebody chirping at him from the stands.
“He’d really get caught up in all that,” Budde said, “but we’ve really talked to him a lot about being mentally tougher and thinking about the next play. He’s really bought into that, the other kids have seen that and they have a lot more confidence in him now.”
Cortaviaus admits his mental game was lacking last season. He labeled himself a “hothead” on occasions.
“There would be games where I would break down if things weren’t going my way,” he said. “This year, if that happens, I’ve got to keep my head and do whatever to help the team out. If shots aren’t going down, I know I can always guard, win 50-50 balls and keep the team involved.”
Defense has been the backbone of North Scott’s success. Cortaviaus and Sam Kilburg often have taken on the responsibility of guarding the opposing team’s best player.
Cortaviaus has drawn assignments like Bettendorf’s D.J. Carton and Pleasant Valley’s Carter Duwa.
“I love playing defense,” he said. “If I’ve got a big matchup, someone I know who is really good, it comes down to studying them, finding their best assets and keeping them from their go-to moves. I’ve got to be ready for anything on any given night.”
In all likelihood, Cortaviaus will match up with Ames freshman phenom Tampin Lipsey. The 6-1 guard is the team’s leading scorer (17.3 ppg.) and considered one of the top prospects in the 2022 class.
“Tavi loves those challenges,” Budde said. “He wants to be guarding the best player.”
Cortaviaus is described as laid-back off the court. On the floor, his teammates call him a fierce competitor.
“I like to talk a lot of trash when I’m playing,” he said. “I like to do it because it gives me energy when we’re playing. I want to make sure I play with as much passion as I can.”
His two older brothers didn’t take it easy on him growing up. The one-on-one battles toughened him up, he said.
“They knew how good I could be,” he said. “If I was guarding them, they weren’t going to settle for a shot. They’d take it right at me, so I’ve had to guard good players most of my life.”
Cortaviaus said basketball is in his future beyond this week. He has zero college offers, but Kirkwood Community College, Division II Wayne State (Neb.) and Division III University of Dubuque are schools he mentioned as possibilities.
He also hasn’t ruled out the idea of going to prep school for a year to continue his development.
First, he wants to end his high school career like Cortez did four years ago with a championship celebration.
“Those Seales boys love basketball,” Budde said. “Just like Cortez and Corvon, Tavi has put a lot of time into this, wants to get better and wants to be coached.
“He’s improved so much because he’s taken parts of his game that weren’t very good and improved in those areas. As a result, it has made our team a lot better.”